Around two thousand animal rights activists, brandishing signs in one hand and
cradling pet dogs in the other, marched along Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard
Saturday night to “give a voice to the voiceless.”
The Giant Protest for
Animals is a national effort that quickly became international as word spread
through Facebook. The non-political, animal rights activism march was originally
only supposed to occur in Tel Aviv, but similar marches took place this weekend
in more than 40 cities around the world under the headline: “Earthlings: No
Longer Blind to Injustice – International March for Animal
The massive call to protest is the brainchild of Asaf
Harduf, a young Israeli criminal lawyer who only became directly involved in
animal rights activism this year. Harduf became a vegetarian eight years ago and
then a vegan five years ago and only recently began joining in on animal rights
protest, where he said he “realized how fulfilling it is to stand with other
people who believe with all their heart that animals should have their life and
“I spoke to a few activists about the various struggles to save
the animals – the struggle against the food industry, against experiments,
against fur and other fights,” Harduf told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, two
days before the march. “I thought about an idea to unite all of us – in all the
various struggles – into one giant march... speaking for all the animals and
against all violence and all forms of exploitation.”
When Harduf launched
the Tel Aviv event on Facebook about a month ago, he said he reached 500
participants within the span of one day, a number that rose to 900 the next
After speaking with members of various Israeli animal rights
activism groups, he decided to expand the effort further.
the founder of the Israeli rights group 269life, connected Harduf with a San
Franciscan activist named Wayne Hsiung, and from there, the marches spread
globally, Harduf explained.
Other Israeli animal rights groups included
Anonymous for Animal Rights, Let Animals Live, the Israeli Association Against
Experimentation on Animals, Jane Halevy from the Anti- Fur Coalition, Anat Refua
leading the struggle to close down the Mazor monkey farm and a group promoting
the use of cosmetics that have not been tested on animals, signified by a bunny
“Almost everyone answered the call,” Harduf said. “The challenge
was to put them all in one room and decide one message.”
In the end, the
central message they decided upon was a campaign to “look into the eyes” of
animals, to remind everyone that they too have eyes and that hurting another
creature is much more difficult when you look into its eyes, Harduf
“It’s nice that we are making an echo and we are thinking
about the day after Saturday, but we are not political we are trying to make a
social difference,” he said.
At the demonstration, activists and
concerned members of the public alike marched toward the Tel Aviv Cinematheque,
led by a huge banner that gave passersby literally no choice but to look into
the widespread eyes of cats and dogs.
Nadia Sachlev, a Tel Aviv resident
who came out for the march to “give a voice to the voiceless,” stressed that
although she is not an activist for one particular cause, she is “against
anything cruel to animals” and had hopes that the march would raise public
awareness and instigate legislative changes.
Voicing similar sentiments,
Hila Keren, the spokeswoman for Anonymous for Animal Rights, expressed her
satisfaction that so many people had amassed for the march, noting that
“Israelis don’t usually make it to things on time.”
“The aim is to raise
public awareness to animal rights and the horrible abuse that hundreds of
millions of animals go through in Israel alone,” Keren said.
agreeing that the march itself did not have political purposes, Keren stressed
the awareness raised through such a demonstration can encourage people to make
better life choices such as purchasing cosmetics free of animal testing,
refusing to wear leather and changing their diets.
“It’s the first time
in Israel that so many people are marching for animal rights,” she said.