Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Zealand

Here's is my knee-jerk response to Jewish caterwauling about the pending ban on kosher slaughter in New Zealand

Stop taking everything so personally, you big stupid babies.

Look, I fully concede that going without meat is an inconvenience. I like eating meat. The taste and feel of it on my tongue gives me pleasure, and like any 21st century man I'm loath to give up something that feels nice (and also loath to think about how sentient creatures are made to suffer in order to produce that pleasure).  But let's be honest: There's no Torah or rabbinic requirement to eat meat. Its just something the Torah, in its celestial wisdom, permits,  like holding slaves, or marrying 10 women. Today, the law in most places forbids slavery and bigamy, but we Jews soldier on despite the real  inconvenience of paying for labor or having just one wife. Why wouldn't we do the same, if kosher slaughter is ever banned? This is not to say I support the ban - I don't - but I don't see the ban as a disaster. If it happens, we'll adjust to the inconvenience and enjoy the benefits of better health and longer lives, just as we've adjusted to the inconvenience of  having no slaves.

Though I support efforts to defeat the ban, I concurrently reject the claim that those on the other side are Jew haters. Predictably, some Jews are in the grips of the paranoid notion that the attempt to ban kosher slaughter is related to antisemitism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Banning kosher slaughter is not an attack on Judaism. It has nothing to do with Judaism. The attempt to ban this style of slaughter is simply an attempt to help animals that incidentaly affects me. I don't feel persecuted by it. I'm not the target. Just as the bans on slavery and bigamy weren't created to hurt us, the ban on kosher slaughter isn't rooted in Jew hatred. And the possibility remains that we would be better off, as a species and as a religious community, if we gave more thought to how our meat is processed, and stopped putting our love of beef ahead of every other consideration. Jews should eat less meat, but that's a conclusion for us to reach on our own, and not something a government should require.

Though the ban on slaughter is a misguided policy, its not the work of anti Semites.

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