Sunday, December 14, 2008

Using Judaism as a support for unconscious living

Don't buy Rubashkin/ Agriprocessors Kosher meat (also marketed as Aaron's Best, and Iowa's Best)

Everything can be used to awaken or to send to sleep, to numb and deaden. This includes what is termed "organised religion". It is obvious how Hinduism, Islam and Christianity may become a vehicle for adherents to cling to their various blindnesses and fears (including self avoidance, legitimising resentments). I cannot however, speak about these traditions with as much authority as I can about Judaism, (and there too I speak only with relative authority, not an absolute one), and how Judaism may incarnate in the lives of those who say they subscribe to it.

It is clear that the set of thoughts and stories that make up "Judaism" can be used also to awaken or to numb, and are. Here are some ways and contexts in which Judaism is used as a vehicle for numbing, desensitizing, closing down, shutting out: Take for example the shameful track record of the "religious" family who own the Agriprocessors losher meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa —the largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse in the world— and who repeatedly violated provisions of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act while US federal inspectors looked on and did nothing.

In undercover video footage filmed by PETA, workers can be seen "shocking animals in the face with electric prods, slitting their throats open and pulling out their tracheas while they’re still conscious, dumping them—frightened (PETA's adjective not mine) and desperately (PETA's adjective not mine) struggling—onto the ground in their own blood, and then waiting for them to die. Many of the animals struggled and stood up while blood was pouring from their throats, and they took several long (PETA's adjective not mine) minutes to die."

This "kosher" meat was produced under the following circumstances:

a) exploitation of poorly paid migrant workers

b) cruelty to the animals slaughtered there by said poorly paid migrant workers, for which the owners bear part responsibility


If you want to read more about this scandal here are some links:

http://www.forward.com/articles/11650/

http://www.forward.com/articles/14169/

and the rather horrifying

http://www.goveg.com/feat/AgriProcessors/

Here is an extract from the above link:

Statement of Lester C. Friedlander, D.V.M., USDA Slaughterhouse Inspector for More Than 10 YearsProfessional Comments and Opinions after reviewing PETA's Undercover Video taken at Federal Establishment #4653, AgriProcessors, Inc., Postville, Iowa:

"My name is Lester Friedlander. I am a veterinarian and worked as a slaughter line inspector for more than 10 years for the USDA. I have received repeated certificates of merit and commendation from the USDA, and was USDA Veterinary Trainer of the Year in 1987.

I have reviewed the video that was taken at Federal Establishment # 4653, AgriProcessors, Inc. in Postsville, Iowa. The video was taken by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and I have watched this video several times. In my years with the USDA, I have seen literally millions of cattle slaughtered, including hundreds of thousands of cattle that were killed in kosher slaughterhouses. The footage captured by PETA represents the most egregious violation of the USDA Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) I have ever witnessed. I have supervised the kosher slaughter conducted by the Satmar sect and the Lubavitcher sect at my federal plants, and the procedure I saw on the PETA video bears little resemblance to the ritual slaughter that I am accustomed to.

The main problem with ritual slaughter is that there is much variation in the methods that rabbis use to conduct kosher slaughter. But, despite the lack of consensus amongst rabbis regarding proper kosher slaughter techniques, all slaughter must meet the minimum animal welfare requirements laid out in The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978. The HMS Act of 1978 states that "the slaughtering and handling of livestock are to be carried out only by humane methods" and that "the use of humane methods of handling and slaughtering livestock prevents needless suffering of animals and results in safer and better working conditions for employees in slaughter establishments." The HMSA "requires" that humane methods for handling and slaughtering be used for "all meat" inspected by the USDA and FSIS.

FSIS recommends that establishments identify where and under what circumstances livestock may experience excitement, discomfort, or accidental injury while being handled in connection with the slaughter process. After you watch the video once or twice, view it again with your eyes closed; you can hear the frantic bellowing of the cattle. Now open your eyes, you can see why they are bellowing. The fear and distress that they feel is overwhelming. The carotids are severed while the cattle are upside-down. After severing, the cattle are released onto the floor, where some get up and thrash and hit their heads against the floor. When the esophagus and trachea are torn away, you can see the cattle extending their head, trying to relieve the pain. This is unnatural for cattle to do this; they normally keep their heads low. After the proper severing of the carotids, the cattle should be held in the restraint position for 30 seconds or longer, so they can bleed out thoroughly. There is unnecessary prodding before the cattle are led into the rotating drum. This prodding excites and distresses the cattle, and they are not at their normal gait. Rabbi Kohn, of Agriprocessors, said the throat tearing was done only to speed bleeding. From my experience, this is only done to keep up with the line speed.

Kosher slaughter as compared to conventional slaughter, is supposed to be much slower due to the procedures involved. Again it is economics that dictate the procedures used. Removing the trachea and esophagus could bleed the cattle faster, but at the expense of the cattle. Rabbi Weinreb stated that he found the procedure "especially inhumane" and "generally unacceptable" but wanted to find out how regularly it happened. That has no bearing on the intentions of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Even if it is violated only once, the plant should stop processing animals until the company can implement a procedure to prevent the violation from occurring again. This is not like a baseball game—a slaughterhouse doesn't get three strikes before they're out. Only one violation is enough to stop production at a slaughterhouse under the provisions laid out in the Humane Slaughter Act. These statements are based on my professional opinion and on my own experiences working for the USDA for more than 10 years as a line inspector. "

Akk of the above is a testimony to the human capacity for unconscious and disassociated behaviour, all within the framework of "holiness".

Of course racist websites have used the whole Agriprocessors scandal as fodder for the usual dehumanizing generalisations about Jews that white supremacists have made for the last century. Expect more of this as economic conditions toughen and people start looking for someone to blame for their self-created woes.

1 comment:

Mdzananda Animal Clinic said...

The act of animal slaughter is not about race or religion. It is about the evolvement of humans and being conscious about suffering.
Slaughtering of animals for food (when other food is available) is a very primitive act for human beings.
It is very disillusioning to think that Judaism supports any form of animal slaughter.