TALLINN (EJP)---Jewish groups have reacted with shock over a controversial mock advertising campaign for an imaginary weight loss supplement that appeared in an Estonian national newspaper depicting Holocaust concentration camp victims.
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the move by daily Eesti Ekspress to apparently parody a recent advert by an Estonian gas company which similarly featured images of Auschwitz Nazi death camp, with the head of its Jerusalem branch Efraim Zuroff decrying it as a “perverted attempt at humour at the expense of the Nazis’ millions of victims”.
Estonian Jewish community spokeswoman Alla Jakobson added that the advert, which appeared in the paper’s humour section, showed how Estonian society was struggling to address “major problems with moral and ethical values”.
The ill-judged incident comes shortly after the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) slammed last month’s announcement by the Estonian government of plans to change its law on shechita (Jewish religious slaughter) to reflect “new scientific knowledge”.
Estonia’s already stringent legislation regarding shechita, which requires authorities to be notified of plans to carry out the ritual ten days previously, will be adapted in line with the findings of the 2010 DialRel report, which similarly threatened to ban the ritual in the Netherlands.
Estonian law currently requires all ritual slaughters to be observed by a government inspector and demands the religiously-controversial post-stunning method to be applied after the animal’s throat is cut. Many rabbis reject the act of post-stunning, as Jewish religious law requires animals to be conscious when their necks are cut.
However, the DialRel report claims that shechita causes higher levels of pain in the animal than other methods of slaughter that involve stunning. By contrast, post-stunning only moderately reduces the level of pain, and pre-stunning produces “low” levels of suffering.
The Estonian government has insisted it has “no plans” to issue an outright ban on shechita.
There are currently around 2,500 Jews living in Estonia, the majority of which in the capital of Tallinn.
At a conference on anti-Semitism in Europe last week in Brussels, speakers such as European Jewish Asociation (EJA) head Rabbi Menachem Margolin claimed that attacks against Jewish religious rituals, such as circumcision and shechita, by some EU member states should be taken as a sign that “Jew are not welcome in Europe”.
Shechita is banned in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. Countries that impose post-cut stunning include Estonia, Finland, Denmark and Austria.