Two days ago, my friend Mark in Hadera and a devoted reader of TIMES OF ISRAEL forwarded an article to me which had appeared in the December 10th edition of HaAretz newspaper. It has left me heart-sick and nauseous and the nausea has not gone away since.
It was a photo-article written by Orna Rinat in HaAretz on December 10, 2018 entitled “The Photo That Encapsulates the Horror of Live Animal Transport to Israel”.
I beg you to log-on to that edition and to join me in the heart-ache which has not gone away.
It tells the true story of a famed Canadian photographer and journalist, JoAnne McArthur, who has been awarded several prizes for her work showing relationships between humans and animals.
Six months ago she arrived in Israel as a guest of the animal rights group, Israel Against Live Shipment.
Her photos showed hundreds of pictures of dead calves, torn from their mothers, who died on route to Israel or shortly upon arrival.
Many of the photos were taken at a fattening farm of Ram de-Levy, an importer reputed to make a financial fortune from the transport from Australia to the slaughter in Israel… the murder of hundreds of thousands of baby animals a year.
From 2017 through October 2018, some 577,828 animals were transported from Australia to Israel.
In August 2018, the Australian media reported the story “showing rare photos in holds of ships transporting calves and sheep to Israel, thousands of densely packed sheep and lambs, unable to move and breathing heavily and rapidly, with mouths open, many of them dying with their heads outstretched in an attempt to inhale some air into their bursting lungs. In one of these shipments, 2,400 animals perished. Tens of thousands scream and thousands die in their own filth”.
Looking at the photos of the young animals dying before they could be slaughtered for meat-loving Israelis sickened me. I have now sworn off beef, lamb and veal. My cholent must now be made with chicken. Or my diet restricted to fish.
There are millions to be made in the transport of calves and sheep. The transporters do not see a crime. There are more humane means of transporting live animals in smaller and cleaner containers. But less shipments equals less money. Many Israelis hunger for beef and lamb as a part of their diet. Most transporters hunger for money for their financial diet.
Looking at McArthur’s photos bring back nightmare photos of Jews being transported in cattle cars to their slaughter, children torn away from their parents like the calves from the cows, unable to breathe.
I have waited two days since I first read the article which Mark sent to me, hoping that my nausea would dissipate and disappear. Neither has been the case.
Marie Antoinette once remarked about the Frenchmen longing for unavailable bread, “let them eat cake”. We could amend it to “let us eat fish, chicken, fruits and vegetables…. no beef & no lamb”.
The Torah mentions hundreds of times our obligation to be kind and compassionate to animals. We are commanded by God to observe and to practice “tsa’ar ba’alei chayim”,, not to cause pain to any living creature. Judaism requires that we must feed our animals before we feed ourselves. The animal is helpless and depends upon us to provide.
The 19th century Rabbi Moshe Sofer (“Hatam Sofer”) obligated us to be compassionate to our animals. He quoted from Psalm 145:9 “ “His tender mercies are over ALL His creatures”. God created His creatures before He created man.
When an observant Jew arises every morning to recite his prayers, he includes in his words from the Baruch She Amar blessings: “Baruch m’rachem al ha briyot”… blessed be He who has mercy upon His creatures”…. Human or animal alike.
Painfully, but with gratitude, I re-read the article which Mark in Hadera sent to me. After the third reading I am still in pain. Even slaughter for food requires compassion !
But please forgive me… if you happen to read the HaAretz item of December 10, I hope that you too will feel some pain. Tsa’ar ba’alei chayim. Show mercy and kindness to God’s creatures !