The Meat Industry, Nazis and True Horror

Comparing the meat industry to the Nazi extermination enterprise is disingenuous at best.

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A cow in a feeding shed.
A cow in a feeding shed. Credit: Dreamstime

Some time ago, Haaretz writer Rogel Alpher read a report by someone who saw a waitress giving water to a dog sitting next to a homeless man. The observer, Raz Yehuda, concluded that the woman cared more about the dog than about the homeless, and wrote an about the incident in an article that ran in the Haaretz website.

Alpher read and was reminded of – not surprisingly – of the Nazis. In his mind, he saw the vegans sitting at a vegan restaurant, surrounded by homeless people and apartheid, and being indifferent to this moral corruption. In a strange and horrifying manner, Alpher wrote, those infected by veganism in Israel place animals above human beings.

This observation led him to the conclusion that vegans “bear collective responsibility for Israeli society’s terrible injustices toward human beings.” And because they “compare the meat industry to the Nazi extermination enterprise,” he reminds them that the “Nazi regime was vegan in spirit” (“The Nazis were vegans, too,” June 9, 2014).

Alpher bases his thesis about the vegan character of Nazism and the Nazi character of veganism (that is to say, of the case for animal rights), among other things, on a sentence he quotes Joseph Goebbels: “Man must not feel superior to animals. Man thinks that only he has intelligence, a soul and the ability to speak. Don’t animals have those qualities?” Alpher, shocked, concludes that Nazis attributed moral qualities to animals.

Attributing the belief that animals have intelligence and a soul (and the moral implications thereof) to Nazis reveals Alpher’s boorishness. The great writers and intellectuals, from Pythagoras through Da Vinci, A.D. Gordon, I.B. Singer, Tolstoy, G.B. Shaw, Twain, Orwell, Rosa Luxemburg, Schweitzer, Chekhov, Kundera and more, all conceived animals as intelligent beings with souls, and wrote biting indictments of the distress man causes them. Science recognized these traits in the 1980s, giving them official legitimacy among important scientists.

Alpher has not heard anything of this. From his perspective, Goebbels is the one who attributed humanity and moral rights to animals, and was followed by Israeli vegans. And he is horrified because it is clear that animals are inferior and lack rights, and only Nazis can assume that it is not so.

If science already admits that animals can think, mourn, dream – shouldn’t the thing that is supposed to horrify Alpher actually be the distress he causes them? For what could be further than the Nazi perception than the premise that there is nothing more relevant to moral consideration than the fact of a soul-bearing individual existing, independent of his belonging to a nation, race or any measure of intelligence?

Alpher is distraught that Israeli vegans equate the meat industry to the Nazi extermination enterprise, but the first one who made this comparison is Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer in his famous saying: “In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”

You don’t even have to ask what this merger of satanic barbarity wrapped in sophisticated technology – which produces and kills annually tens of billions of animals, whose numbers on their bodies mock their attempts to live in the extermination facilities that were built for them – is reminiscent of.

Animal rights supporters, among whom are many left wingers, include lawyers who also defend Palestinians and Bedouins, are forced to defend them because they cannot rely on good leftists like Alpher to stop funding their monstrous torture. They are forced to dedicate their lives to a struggle against this suffering because for all the injustices done her to humans, their babies are not lead to slaughterhouses, and there is almost no group of humans that has an absolute consensus regarding the right to slaughter and torture it. They have no time to go to the Nazi Internet sites that Alpher sends them, because they are forced to descend into hell that the good and fair leftists like him, and like the members of Hashomer Hatzair’s Kibbutz Lahav, for example, financially support and build for intelligent, sensitive and social animals.

Anyone who looks at what goes on inside that closed facility, at the edge of the beautiful kibbutz, enters another planet. Mother sows lie in cages in which they cannot move, and they are forced to nurse their piglets through the grates that press on their bellies. Their eyes are dimmed. They occasionally try to touch with their mouths one of their babies through the grates. Darkness surrounds them, and from time to time one can hear sounds of crying – yes, real crying.

Within these facilities, the sows managed to understand how to undo the cage screws with their tongues, and then taught other pigs to do so. Such sows are killed. The rest receive anti-depressant pills.

You don’t need to be Goebbels to understand that it is impossible to suffer from depression without possessing what we call a soul.

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