Ex-Polish pol hired to challenge country’s ban on ritual slaughter

(JTA) — A Jewish interests lobby based in Brussels hired a former Polish politician accused of anti-Semitism to lead a constitutional challenge of the ban on ritual slaughter in Poland.

The European Jewish Association brought in Roman Giertych, the former leader of the far-right League of Polish Families political party, to helm the legal challenge in the country’s Constitutional Tribunal.

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Giertych told the Times of Israel on Tuesday that while his family has a history of anti-Semitism, “It is not the history of myself. There is no anti-Semitism in my life.”

The association’s director, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, told the Times of Israel that Giertych is “an excellent lawyer and has good contacts in the corridors of power where this decision will be made.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to Poland David Peleg refused to work with Giertych on Holocaust education issues when the politician served as education minister and deputy prime minister in 2006-07 due to the “anti-Semitic policy” of his party, according to the Times of Israel.

The League of Polish Families was the successor to the pre-World War II National Democracy Party, which worked to remove Jews from Polish economic and social life. In recent years, party members have asserted that Auschwitz was not a death camp and Polish lives were put at risk in Iraq on behalf of the Jews.

Giertych told the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza that as a Catholic who practices his religion in Poland, he wants to see other religious communities be able to freely cultivate their religious traditions.

A de facto ban on ritual slaughter has been in effect since January. The Polish parliament earlier this month defeated a bill that would have allowed ritual slaughter.

Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, told the Times of Israel that the fight to legalize shechitah in Poland should be left to the Polish Jewish community and not be complicated by the uncoordinated involvement of European organizations.