Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Supreme Court Nominee, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Animal Rights Advocate

*****What do the above have in common? Steven Dujack, writer on the environment, who was pulled from testifying at Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito's hearing. Isaac Bashevis Singer is Steven Dujack's Grandfather. Dujack was criticized by the right wing for writing an article comparing the Holocaust to the way animals are treated in the USA.******

Dujack Pulled as Witness against Alito

Steven Dujack whose article on animal cruelty appears below was pulled as a witness from the Alito hearings. A Republican Senator read from the article to point out what he sees as desperation on the part of the Democrats to find witnesses who will testify against Alito assuming the job of Supreme Court Justice. Dujack was going to describe his knowledge of a student group known as (CAP) which worked against Princeton's allowing women and increases in minorities becoming students at the University. CAP was a club which Alito admits he must have joined since it was on his resume when he applied for position in the law but claims he has no recollection of the group. I was very offended by the notion that painted Dujack as a kind of kook for writing the an article that compared the slaughter of animals in this country to the Holocaust.

I happen to agree with Dujack who is a vegetarian and also the son of the noted Nobel Prize winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer who also was vegetarian and felt strongly about the connection to a culture of violence against animals and behavior that he believed also leads to violence against people and insensitivy in general in this society.

I see a connection between this Senator's conservative ideology (readers who know who he is, plese share as I do not), his support for Alito, and his inability to understand why the article is hardly insane or lacking in some way.

It is a sensitive statement written by a sensitive and thoughtful human being. Although I am not a vegetarian, I do have a very hard time justifying the inhumane way the system in the US handles and kills animals we use for food in this country. I strongly object to the objectors of the article below. I also have no objection to the holocaust comparison and I am certain that many of my distant and not so distant relatives died in the Holocaust since my family originally came from Poland and the Jewish area within the Ukraine. Remember Isaac Bashevis Singer was a survivor of the Holocaust and I believe he as well as Dujack have a right to their own ideas about the connections and comparisons of animal slaughter and the Holocaust..

If Dujack had some information useful to the Democrats, he should not have been pulled as a witness and if so definitely not because he wrote a sensitive and thoughtful article that in my mind is an important statement about how this country treats animals especially those we use for food. I also have no objection to the fact that Dujack used the Holocaust as a way of showing what befalls these sensate feeling creatures every day of our and their lives.

Sharon Raphael

LA Times


Animals Suffer a Perpetual 'Holocaust'
By Stephen R. Dujack

Isaac Bashevis Singer fled Nazi Europe in 1935 and came to this country. He married my grandmother, who had escaped from Hitler's Germany in 1940. He went on to become a lauded author and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978. His family -- those who stayed behind -- were killed in the concentration camps.

My grandfather was also a principled vegetarian. He was one of the first to equate the wholesale slaughter of humans to what we perpetrate against animals every day in slaughterhouses. He realized that the systems of oppression and murder that had been used in the Holocaust were the systems being used to confine, oppress and slaughter animals. He attributed to a character in one of his books something he believed in hi

mself: "In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis. For [them], it is an eternal Treblinka."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has come under fire from the Anti-Defamation League for a campaign highlighting my grandfather's ideas as well as writings from others -- including German Jewish philosopher Theodor Adorno, who was forced into exile by the Nazis, and Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz, who was imprisoned in Dachau -- that compare the suffering of Holocaust victims with that of farmed animals.

The ADL claims that PETA is exploiting the Holocaust for publicity. The campaign has sparked debate and controversy in the Jewish community, but my grandfather would have been proud of PETA's bold campaign.

The Holocaust happened because ordinary people chose to ignore the extraordinary oppression and abuse being inflicted on innocents by the Nazis. Millions of people went about their daily lives, knowingly turning a blind eye to the suffering of those they didn't relate to, those who were deemed "unworthy of life."

My grandfather often said that this mind-set, whether it manifested itself as the oppression of animals or of people, exemplified the most hideous and dangerous of all racist principles. As Adorno said, "Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: They're only animals."

My grandfather was a gentle man who always extended a compassionate hand to those who could not speak for themselves. He had birds as pets, but he always left their cages open because he couldn't bear to see any being behind bars. They used to fly out one window and in another of his apartment. When asked why he was a vegetarian, he'd reply, "I'm a vegetarian for health reasons: the health of the chickens." Because of him, I am also now a vegetarian.

Because of my family's history and the gentle guiding force of my grandfather, I learned the sad lessons of prejudice and ignorance and the ways to fight them. I learned that to remember the horrors of the past is not enough -- we must apply what we've learned and say with conviction, "Never again." But when we say it, we must mean never again shall we allow this to happen to anyone, for any reason.

Like the victims of the Holocaust, animals are rounded up, trucked hundreds of miles to the kill floor and slaughtered. Comparisons to the Holocaust are not only appropriate but inescapable because, whether we wish to admit it or not, cows, chickens, pigs and turkeys are as capable of feeling loneliness, fear, pain, joy and affection as we are. To those who defend the modern-day holocaust on animals by saying that animals are slaughtered for food and give us sustenance, I ask: If the victims of the Holocaust had been eaten, would that have justified the abuse and murder? Did the fact that lampshades, soaps and other "useful" products were made from their bodies excuse the Holocaust? No. Pain is pain.

My grandfather wrote, "[A]s long as human beings will go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler.... There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is."

We all have the power to stop suffering and misery every time we sit down to eat.

Sharon Raphael

Monday, January 09, 2006


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