By Eyal Megged, Haaretz Daily Newspaper
January 3, 2014
The Righteous Among the Nations, those saintly non-Jews who are presented as role models for every Jewish child around here, were fanatical people who performed fanatical acts. The decision to save persons and families right under the Nazis’ noses in occupied Europe was not just an extreme fanatical act but an almost certain act of actual suicide. I use this metaphor — which is bound to arouse immediate outrage in many of the readers, when they find out that this article is not about Jews but about animals; not about innocent children but about innocent calves – in order to demonstrate that sometimes, in an unbearable reality, certain people go off the rails and do things which most of us regard as extreme and illogical.
I purposely avoid using the essential “you can’t compare” since I do not believe in this reservation. I am entitled to the shaking emotional identification that befalls me (e.g. last Saturday in a Kibbutz cow shed) when I see baby calves which are shortly to be electrocuted, mutilated and beheaded, even if these are “only” animals. I shudder at the thought that these unforgivable acts are done, among other reasons, so that the food critic of the paper I write for will in due course muster his poetic inspiration to describe the roast prepared by a supreme chef from one of those sweet lovely calves.
Like Bashevis Singer, I too am bound by the duty to compare Zoglowek to Treblinka. I guess Bashevis Singer, Yourofsky and I have the same emotional range, and I don’t see any fault in this. On the contrary: I’d even say that by comparing it to the animal’s holocaust I can better and deeper understand “our” holocaust, from different aspects, which this is neither the place nor the time to elaborate.
On this occasion I would like to use this fanatical column of mine to persuade the members of the interministerial committee — appointed by the Prime Minister to examine the issue of transferring the Animal Protection Laws’ enforcement from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Environmental Protection – to not miss this opportunity that has befallen them. There can be no exaggeration in the change they can make happen. The Ministry of Agriculture, which naturally represents the meat and dairy industries, has so far made a laughingstock of farm animals’ rights. The Minister of Agriculture should be in charge of the cows’ wellbeing just as Shari Arison should be in charge of the Bank of Israel.
Such a change, if it does happen, is by no means an extreme act. It shouldn’t have anything to do with any vegetarian or vegan tendency, God forbid. The committee members will be permitted, while debating the issue, to feast on chicken thighs, schnitzel or Shawarma. All that is required of them is to rectify a legal and governmental wrong, to put an end to an atrocious injustice. Their right and just decision, which will undoubtedly require standing up to mighty economic forces, will be a small step for humanity but a great step for the animals.