Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Food stuff, sort of
For years I didn't fast on Yom Kippur. I had started fasting when I was twelve years old. as is customary. By the time I met Bish when I was about twenty two, I was already quite a veteran faster and I hated it. It was sheer torture. Bish had grown up in a religious family and when he left, he left all the way. I was only too pleased to join him in his enthusiastic secularism. And that was it for me. No more fasts on Yom Kippur, till this last Yom Kippur, that is (as some of you may recall). But we always tried to be considerate on Yom Kippur so as not to make the fast more difficult for our neighbors.

I remember one year in particular. This was back when the unpleasant and degrading experiences I had been through in the Tel Aviv Rabbinate when we’d committed the ultimate sin of being a secular Jewish couple wishing to be married in Israel, surrounded by our loved ones, were still fresh in my mind. I still felt a lot of anger, at the time, at the ultra-religious rabbis who controlled the Rabbinate (and still do), because of their political power, and had made the process so insulting for me. I had no respect for religion or religious people whatsoever. But still, every year, I'd make an effort to keep the fact that I was eating to myself. I'd spend a lot of time planning odorless meals for us. This is not an easy feat. You can really learn a lot on Yom Kippur about which foods have strong smells. I've learnt a lot about this subject over the years and I can honestly say that all foods have strong smells, although some should be avoided at all costs. This particular year, hot and tired of closing windows to keep smells and cutlery sounds from escaping our little kitchen (Yom Kippur is usually one of the hottest days of the year and we didn't have air-conditioning yet) we went out for a walk. The minute we walked out of the building we were overcome with that very strong and unmistakable smell of burnt toast. All that effort and someone had burnt their effing toast!

I am a vegetarian but I am very much opposed to any sort of violent or coercive activities aimed at convincing or forcing others to accept my point of view with regard to eating animals. In fact, I am opposed to any sort of persuasive activities in this issue. I view my vegetarianism, although somewhat ideological, as a peaceful matter. My daughters, therefore, are not vegetarians, because they choose not to be. This means that I regularly have to cook meat for them (or at last warm it up), a chore I find disagreeable, but I strongly believe that whether they eat meat or not is not my decision, and it is my duty as their mother, to make sure they eat properly.

I know nothing about PETA and its antics besides the latest stuff: A publicity campaign comparing modern slaughter of animals for food to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis in the Holocaust, which comes to my attention via Meryl Yourish; but we also have our own nutty, violent, fanatic animal rights groups here.

An often-repeated cliche in Israel is that the first one to bring up the Holocaust in an argument loses. This is a problem here because the Holocaust is so much in the air all the time that it's very difficult not to bring it up in every other conversation, never mind arguments. Leaders of ultra-religious Sephardi Party, Shas, have been screaming and yelling that Shinui Party's chairman and now Justice Minister, Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, is as bad as the Nazis or words to that effect, and worse. The quite widespread sentiment about this, I think, is that they are so completely and utterly hysterical about their serious loss of power in the elections and their exclusion from the government, that whatever they say is meaningless. Their ranting is more pathetic than threatening.

This PETA campaign will probably serve as a boomerang. People who believe that cruelty to animals is equal to cruelty to human beings will feel good about themselves. All the others will not be convinced. Many will come to the conclusion that this is a group of raving lunatics.

They brought up the Holocaust first and therefore lost the argument.

I was going to say that eating an animal for PETA is like having a feast on Yom Kippur, but it isn't really, and now I've already made all this big introduction about Yom Kippur and it's not leading anywhere. Oysh, egg on my face. Or should I say…erm…B12 vitamin supplement on my face (these guys seem to be vegans, as well, which I am not).

I understand how very offensive a lot of people must be finding this PETA campaign and I can understand and respect the sentiment behind the initiative of the highly amusing International Eat an Animal for PETA Day. But, although I accept that I may be very wrong here, I feel that the best way to deal with PETA's hurtful comparison is to ignore it, just like the best way to deal with Shas' ranting about Lapid is to ignore it. I don't think it's a good idea to give them more of the publicity they crave.

Using "Holocaust" tactics means they know they are not getting anywhere near where they long to be and they have become desperate enough to bring out the doomsday weapons.


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