Monthly Archives: May 2013

Is PETA anti-Semitic?

So I’ve been hearing this more and more lately – Kosher animal slaughter causes much more suffering to the animal than conventional slaughter. As a Jew, I take this accusation seriously, since the entire law of Kosher slaughter is based on the animal not suffering at the moment of death. So I did some Google searches on the subject, and I have to say the results weren’t satisfactory.
On the one side you have PETA, who has a definite agenda to go vegan, and they bring this all up to support their argument. Their one source of actual evidence was this NY Times article from 2004 detailing abuses at a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa.
One article about one place ten years ago does not constitute a pattern, less a policy that contradicts the theory. And only a cultist would run with it straight to the conclusion that vegetarianism is the only solution.
On the other side, you have the rabbis, who insist up and down that according to Jewish slaughtering rules, the animal must not suffer. This guy gives a good explanation. I have to acknowledge what he says about this accusation being another form of anti-Semitism. Frankly this whole “Kosher animals suffer more” has about the same amount of evidence as the old “Jewish bankers run the world” canard.
And I’ve known people who’ve learned the trade of Kosher slaughter, so I know the proper practice exists at least in some places. But, as another article puts it, factory style slaughterhouses may have a completely different practice. And that’s where I see there may be a point.
So it seems like the issue is transparency at kosher slaughterhouses. Are they living up to the spirit of the law and making sure that animals are not suffering? Or are they just giving a tip and a nod to the law and, in the name of efficiency, maintain practices that result in a lot more suffering than conventional slaughter? And if that is the case, are Jews aware of this and doing anything about it?
If people really wanted to address this question, this is how they would approach it. So far I’m not seeing that. All I’m seeing are the kind of abstract debates and finger-pointing that the internet excels at. Like I said, this is a serious accusation, and if it is true, and Jews remain unaware of this, then Judaism is in need of some serious reforms. But if it is false, then the accusers can be branded as anti-Semites.