February 18: From insult to injury

It was outrageous for the Beersheba District Labor Court to award compensation to Gazan workers who lost their jobs due to the forced relocation of the factory and the disengagement.

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From insult to injury Sir, - It was outrageous for the Beersheba District Labor Court to award compensation to Gazan workers who lost their jobs due to 1. the forced relocation of the factory as a result of terrorist activity, and 2. the so-called disengagement from Gush Katif ("Blind justice," Editorial, February 17). What about the Israelis who lost their jobs when the Hollandia mattress factory was hit by non-stop Kassam fire and had no choice but to move to the center of the country? Are those workers also going to get compensation - and if not, why not? The ruling party in Gaza, Hamas, should be liable for all costs as it is responsible for the damage done to both communities. JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva 'Kosher' slaughter... Sir, - Isn't it interesting that a stream of Judaism whose adherents obsesses over whether there is a microbe in their water or a worm in their lettuce has no ethical problem with an industrialized system of slaughter that, while technically "kosher," is morally abhorrent - all in the name of cost-efficiency? ("Why do the OU and Israel's rabbinate condone barbarity?" Adam Frank, February 14.) YVETTE PORTER Paramus, New Jersey Sir, - I was deeply concerned by Rabbi Frank's op-ed. He seems to be unaware, or chooses to ignore, the fact that articles of this nature over the last two centuries ultimately led to the banning of kosher slaughter entirely in several European countries. Now that the actual slaughter has been judged humane (Dr. Temple Grandin, quoted in Rabbi Frank's article), the focus of the attacks on shehita has shifted to the shackling and hoisting method used in South America, where the kosher slaughter in question takes place. My father, a scholarly shochet and gentle man, worked all his years in American packing plants where shackling and hoisting were employed. For several years I worked with him. Based on our experience, I wish to point out that: "A recent undercover investigation" cited by Rabbi Frank is unidentified and does not qualify as a reliable source. Quoting "Animal Science data" without date or authorship, does not carry weight. Likewise, a Haaretz journalist writing for a popular magazine a decade ago is not a reliable source. I can assert from my experience that no kosher slaughterhouse in the US reaches the rate of 100 steers an hour. The Shochtim Union would not allow it because time has to be allowed for the shochet to hone his knives, to pass his knife to a colleague for inspection after each slaughter, and to allow the flowing blood to drain after slaughter. Shackling and hoisting methods are not barbaric. They compare well to other methods in use. No animal weighing more than a half ton will passively let someone cut its throat. None of the so-called humane methods have found a solution to this problem. Electrocution, gassing or penning are sometimes even more painful than shackling. I have never seen an animal remain conscious for a full minute after kosher slaughter. There may be some reflex movements for a few seconds after proper slaughter and draining of the blood, but no animal remains conscious for 60 seconds. In any event, machine flaying of animals does not apply in South American slaughtering plants. I agree with Rabbi Frank that the Israeli rabbinate should purchase meat from North America. At the same time, keeping the cost of kosher meat down and protecting the income of Israeli shochtim may not be highly idealistic, but it cannot be considered barbaric. RABBI SHLOMO WEXLER Jerusalem Adam Frank responds: My article supported shehita, but questioned the supervising authorities. It did not cite references, as the Post is not a scholarly journal. Not one of Rabbi Wexler's criticisms brings any outside facts or reliable sources to dispute the points I made. His arguments speak of practices in the US, while my article underscored slipshod practices in a Third World country. He must be aware that a shochet uses more than one knife in a day's work; as one knife is used, the others may be prepared for the subsequent steers. Also, the blood draining occurs in a different place than the "killing floor," so the flow of blood does not slow the slaughter rate. The concerned reader may wish to view www.grandin.com (heading "Ritual Slaughter") for scientific data and halachically approved humane ASPCA restraint methods in use in the US; and http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/ukkosher08 for a written and video report of the October 2007 investigation. Finally, "barbaric" is the term used by professor of animal science Temple Grandin Phd. ...why kill at all? Sir, - As members of the Jewish faith and culture, we are taught to have respect and compassion for animals - even that we should feed our pets before we feed ourselves. Why, then, is cruelty to food animals condoned? It is a well-known fact that violence toward animals breeds violence toward humans. Instead of merely making slaughtering conditions more acceptable, why kill at all? It would behoove the Jewish nation, and in fact the rest of the world, to revert to basics and adhere to the principles laid down in Genesis, where God clearly states that we have been given herbs, grains, seeds and fruit to eat. This suggests that we humans are vegans by nature. Let us make 2008 a year of compassion and humane revolution. Let us prove that we are a kind species. Let us take responsibility for our actions and cease all this senseless destruction of Earth and her inhabitants. Becoming vegan would be a good place to start. COLLEEN McDULING Animal Behavior Scientist & Specialist Sevenoaks, Kent, UK For the record Sir, - "Now in a shelter, a battered wife tells her story" (February 14) reported that the first shelter in Israel, in Haifa, was opened by Na'amat. This is far from the reality. In 1978, a group of dedicated volunteers, mostly Anglo immigrants, the emerging feminists of Haifa Women to Women, scraped together enough funding to open a small apartment. They were appalled by the plight of abused women and their children, and even more by the attitude of the Israeli public at that time that "it doesn't happen here." In the first years there was no support at all from any public bodies or recognized women's organizations. When I wrote an article on the opening of this shelter for The Jerusalem Post, the then editor of the Haifa office told me it was of no interest. Only a few months later, when a woman was murdered at the newly opened Herzliya shelter, was my article used. WENDY BLUMFIELD Haifa I'm with you Sir, - You have a great Web site. Keep up the great work. I am Judeo-Christian and love the Jewish people. I toured Israel in 1995. It was the best time of my life. We know that Israel is Hashem's land on the face of the earth. I pray for the IDF and the IAF - my heroes and superb aviators - every day. CHARLES WANDS Satellite Beach, Florida Help me find them Sir, - I will be visiting Israel in March, and my mother has asked me to try and find our cousins, Bella Tarnarider (b. 1955), last known address Rehov Mivtza Yonatan, Kfar Saba; and Edward Nemcov (b. 1963), last known address Rehov Brener, Petah Tikva. Their mother, Fira, emigrated to Israel and was my mother's first cousin. Thanks in advance for any help! RUTH MASTRON ruth@sococo.com Oceanside, California