Our television screens have already stopped airing the scenes of horror. We have already forgotten all about them because, after all, we have done our bit: We were shocked, we protested, we raised a hue and cry. We are filled with human compassion, we are humane, we are cultured beings. We are not indifferent to suffering, including the suffering of animals. Today we lower our voices − some of us even whisper − when ordering a meat dish in a restaurant. Today we eat the slain animal with slightly pursed lips.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara now refrain from eating animal flesh on Mondays because it is healthy for one’s body and soul to do so (and, incidentally, great for one’s image).
However, as a result of all these wonderful and public relations-friendly actions that are so pleasant to talk about, are helpless fowls no longer shredded while they are still breathing? Are baby chicks no longer crushed to death? Do calves no longer bleat in slaughterhouses that know no mercy and have no God − calves that no one will save as they die while suffering the torments of hell?
Has the meat industry − a clean-sounding, technical term that conceals an industry of never-ending death − stopped butchering with a deadly rhythm? Have strange forms of death come to an end − those strange forms of death to which we condemn living creatures that, like human beings, have breath through their nostrils, whose will to live is at least as strong as ours, and whose wisdom sometimes exceeds ours?
We continue with our daily routine as if the factories of torture and death do not exist in the same world in which we exist − as if they were on another planet, in another sphere, in another dimension of reality. However, the strange forms of death and the torments of hell continue relentlessly: in our sphere, our world, our living space. We simply do not want to see them and we do not want to hear about them, while here and there we perform cosmetic acts just to blur the vision of horror and muffle its sounds.
Gentle reader, you might ask what I propose to do about this situation. Well, my answer is unequivocal: Let us all stop eating animal flesh. Let us all stop the killing of animals, not just the “inhumane” methods of killing. Mercy killing is for those who no longer want to live, not for those who love life. If you think that gentle caresses and soft words accompany the innocent sheep and calves as they are placed on the altar, you must be living on Mars. The slaughterer’s knife has not disappeared. If most of those who have to eat food for which blood has been shed are unable to control themselves, are unable to overcome their craving for animal flesh, then laws should be passed to help them restrain themselves − just as laws have been passed against all other crimes that are a gross affront to morality; just as laws have been passed against all sorts of things that are simply intolerable; just as laws have been passed to place restrictions on smoking and to outlaw drugs. When all is said and done, despite all the meaningless talk about obedience to nature’s laws (and, supposedly, to the Torah’s laws), what we are dealing with here is pure and simple addiction − addiction that is sanctioned by law.
The carnivores among us are well aware of the fact that there is a wide range of alternatives to animal flesh; however, they confess that they are addicted to the “real thing.” Obviously, only the passage of laws can cure them of their addiction. Actually, all that is needed is one law whose basis is the supreme commandment: Thou shalt not kill. In the political arena, what is needed is a political party that will champion the enforcement of this commandment and regard such enforcement as the number one item on its agenda, not just a section in its platform inserted to pass muster, or to pay lip service. I am talking about a political movement that is determined, come hell or high water, to turn the consumption of animal flesh into an act that everyone recognizes as abominable. To paraphrase Psalms 126:2, our mouths would have been filled with laughter if someone had told us 20 years ago that this would be the fate of smoking.