Thursday, December 02, 2004

Shechita Controversy

Simcha at Hirhurim reports on the Shechita Controversy prompted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). They claim that the animals slaughtered in an Iowa slaughter house are painfully abused after slaughter. Now, halakhically after the esophagus and wind pipe are severed the animal is considered dead, though it might have mechanical reactions afterward (halakhically known as 'pirkhus'). That's what's behind the well-known phenomenon of the 'chicken running around without a head.' On the other hand, if there is real animal abuse it obviously needs to be investigatyed.

Anyway, I"m somewhat skeptical of the source of the accusation. PETA, it will be recalled, is a radical animal rights organization that a few years ago wrote to Yasser Arafat to stop using donkeys in suicide attacks. People, they said, can murder each other. They begged him to keep the poor animals out of it! (So much for real humanity.)

In addition, PETA is touting a video that purports to show the abuse of animals by shochtim. The last time such a film was produced it was Goebbel's infamous movie Der Ewige Jude ('The Eternal Jew'). As one description of the latter notes:

Though unquestionably vicious, many would say that, by today's standards, it is also crude and transparent. The narrator explains the Jews' ratlike behavior, while showing footage of rats squirming from sewers and leaping at the camera. The film's most shocking scene is the slaughter of a cow, shown in bloody detail, by a grinning Rabbi - and it is followed by, of all things, three innocent (presumably German) lambs nuzzling each other.

The movie was intended to prepare the German public for the imminent deportation of German Jewry. Lest you think this type of effect no longer obtains, note the comments posted on the movie's website.

It now appears (according to the Post) that PETA is being backed by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.
My other observations, though, still hold.

Owing to the fact that the packing plant in question is affiliated with Lubavitch, Failed Messiah is carrying all of the relevant links.


Uri Cohen said...

May I strongly recommend that you watch the video, at

How would you have recommended that PETA let people know about what is apparently avoidable tzaar baalei chayim of hundreds of thousands of animals? Not release a video of the truth because it might remind scholars of a Nazi film? I'm not impressed with this comparison when so much is at stake.

Jeffrey said...

My posting was prior to the disqualification of the shechita by the Rabbinate and the OU. Furthermore, I understand that, relative to the vast numbers of animals slaughtered, these were horrfic exceptions. PETA has an agenda. Its agenda is anti-Shechita and videos such as these lend themselves to misuse. So, while I agree that the zaar baale hayyim must be dealt with, PETA must be held in the greatest suspicion.

Talmudist said...

Dear Jeffery,

Firstly, I think you should read all of the reactions found in: the fact that PETA is bringing these reactions shows that they are not after Jews, they are after people who are engaging in צער בעלי חיים. Overall, I think that you were wrong in your attitude to PETA. In their website they write: "Kosher slaughter is more than twice as well regulated as conventional slaughter and is supposed to be more humane. Also, most meat from kosher slaughterhouses is sold as conventional, not kosher meat". There is not even a hint of anti-Semitism, on the contrary! It seems that these animals which were sold in the USA as Glatt(!) were not even Kosher! Also, you have misquoted their letter to Arafat. You wrote: "People, they said, can murder each other. They begged him to keep the poor animals out of it! (So much for real humanity.)" this is not what they said. They realize that people are fighting (I am sure they are against that as well!) but they only asked him to keep the animals out of that. They are not Amnesty – their agenda concerns animals only!

Jeffrey said...

I am willing to agree on the issue per se. My suspicions about PETA, overall, remain as they were.

Anonymous said...

I happen to know people at PETA. They purposefully do obnoxious stunts to get publicity for their cause. They hope that you might dislike the messenger, but at least you'll see the message. I think this is a wrongheaded policy, because people are not as rational as that. But I hope that when you consider PETA in the future, you separate the "real" issue from their often offensive or over-the-top presentation. I can assure you that they are not in any way anti-Semitic, and in fact a great many of them are Jews.

In the case of this contraversy, please judge not based on PETA, but based on the evidence. Watch the video for yourself. Read the statements of experts that say these animals are suffering horribly. This is not the way kosher slaughter is supposed to be done, and not the way it usually is done in this country. But as long as this is approved by halachic authorities, we cannot have faith that kosher meat is humane. (Indeed, others have pointed out that we cannot in any case, because the animals are raised in the same notoriously cruel factory farms that non-kosher meat comes from -- definitely only buy Humane Certified meat in any case!)

FYI - Jewish Vegetarians of North America is involved in this issue from a Jewish (non-PETA) point of view. Their website is