Monday, May 29, 2006

Olmert needs some PR advice

Shmuel Rosners’s blog on Haaretz discusses Olmert’s use of language on his recent US trip.
Olmert chose the term "realignment" as the official translation to the name of his plan. "I think it means 'hitkansut' (the Hebrew word for the plan)," he told us during the visit when asked about the choice of words. "Sometimes," Olmert said, "the same word in Hebrew has several meanings in English, and I heard of a few, and of them the term that seemed to me most representative is 'realignment,' to the best of my knowledge of English."

After discussing the matter with many knowledgeable Americans, we concluded in our article it was a foolish choice. "Realignment," said a senior American reporter, "is something that you do to your car tires" rather than a catchy name of a daring political plan.

There was consensus among Olmert's American listeners with which we met: "Consolidation" is a much more appropriate word for those who are afraid to use the clear term: "withdrawal". But some other suggestions were made, and we figured time for action is now (as Olmert told Bush about Iran).

So, I ask you dear readers of “I wonder If,” put your marketing degrees to use, think like the spin makers and PR consultants, and share how you think Ehud Olmert should be labeling his plan to remove what may be up to 70 000 Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria in order to create a Palestinian state more or less along the lines of what Barak offered at Camp David(See map, whereby no Jews would be living in grey shaded areas by 2008).

I have included a few suggestions from Rosner below:
* Realignment
* Withdrawal
* Consolidation
* Convergence
* Disengagement 2
* Reversion("act of turning something the opposite way; act of returning to a previous condition; return of property to its owner after the occurrence of a particular event")
* Olmert`s Folly
* Second Stage of Israel`s Suicide
* Honey I Shrunk Israel Plan
* We will not give in to Terror Plan
* Intifada,Outerfada?
* Hexodus
* Redeployment and fortification
* Project return
- Surrender-to-Arab-Terrorism Plan
- National Retreat Plan
- National Defeat Plan
* Detachment
* Contraction (although it makes me think of being in labour -not the Amir Peretz kind)
* Resettlement
* Strategic unilateral retreat
* Operation justice prevails
* Victory of Hamas
* Yasser’s Revenge
* Green light to the green line

Monday, May 22, 2006

A light unto the nations?

The Jewish State was built on the back of Yishayahu’s prophetic notion that we should be a "a light unto the nations"(Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).

So then what does our state do when people arrive in need? The government of Israel, the worlds only Jewish government, puts them in prison because they don’t have valid visas. Of all the wonderful examples Israel could learn from Australia, our successful migration intake, our welfare and education systems, why did Israel choose to copy our system of mandatory detention? This story from Haaretz today: Yad Vashem chairman urges PM to let Darfur refugees stay in Israel
The chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, Avner Shalev, called Sunday on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to allow refugees from the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan to remain Israel.
In a letter to Olmert, Shalev wrote that, "as members of the Jewish people, for whom the memory of the Holocaust burns, we cannot stand by as the refugees from the genocide in Darfur hammer on our doors. The memories of the past and Jewish values compel us to show solidarity with the persecuted."

Shalev pointed out that during the Holocaust, countries such as Australia, Canada and Britain cited security reasons when they sent Jews escaping the Nazis to detention camps.

In early May, Holocaust researcher Professor Yehuda Bauer, an academic advisor to Yad Vashem, added his name to a High Court petition brought by the Hotline for Migrant Workers against the Israel Defense Forces Head of Operations Directorate, Brigadier General Gadi Eisencott, who signed an order to expel 31 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region without giving them the right to make their case. See here also.

This is an embarrassment. We can surely do better than this!

Monday, May 08, 2006

How humane is shechita of cows?

The Torah requires that meat and poultry be slaughtered in a prescribed manner known as shechita. The trachea and esophagus of the animal are severed with a special razor-sharp, perfectly smooth blade, causing instantaneous death with no pain to the animal.” (

But is this always the case? In the course of the probe of AgriProcessors Inc. of Postville, Iowa, by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in late 2004 it was found that employees of one of the nation's major kosher slaughterhouses "had engaged in acts of inhumane slaughter," [and] that federal inspectors did nothing to stop it and instead accepted gifts of meat from plant employees. The plant is the America's largest producer of meat certified as glatt kosher.

To see a video of this slaughter click here

For those that don’t have the stomach to watch this video, it shows "electric prods used to shock the faces of cows in order to guide them into the slaughter pen. The pictures also showed an uncommon practice of speeding post-shehita blood flow by using large hooks to rip out the animals' trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (food pipe) while the animals are still conscious. Immediately after the procedure cows are seen standing and attempting to bellow and leave the killing-floor area.

It is important to note that the ideal kosher cut would sever the trachea, esophagus and carotid artery, thus immediately eliminating blood flow to the brain and rendering an animal unconscious in as quickly as 10 seconds. Contrary to widespread perceptions, however, a valid kosher slaughter requires only the cut of the trachea and esophagus. The post-cut scenes on the videos of staggering, mutilated animals seem to be cases in which the carotid arteries were not severed, thus leaving the animal conscious and able to suffer pain. Source:jpost
Reacting to these published findings, the head of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's international ritual slaughter division, Rabbi Ezra Raful, said that he would permit the import of meat to Israel from the slaughterhouse in question, saying that "in the case of AgriProcessors, there is no halachic problem."

Thankfully, many poskim, including Maimonides, believe that the prohibition against cruelty to animals informs our interactions with animals far beyond sadism.

Rabbi Ezra Raful also said Jewish law permitted a non-Jew to use a hook to sever an animal's carotid arteries, as long as most of the trachea and esophagus were severed by the shochet [ritual slaughterer].

He said that if a Jew used the hook, the slaughter was not kosher because of the halachic principle of marit ayin - the mistaken impression that the ripping of the arteries with a hook was part of the Jewish slaughtering process. This issue would not arise if a non-Jew ripped out the artery, since a non-Jew is disqualified from performing shehita (ritual slaughter).

Raful said he had been informed by sources in AgriProcessors that only non-Jews performed the ripping. Raful said it was unfair to apply subjective criteria of cruelty to shehita.

"For me it is terribly cruel to boil a lobster live or to fry a live shrimp or freeze a fish live. It depends on what you are used to. It's all very subjective. "But the Torah is not subjective and the same Torah that prohibits cruelty to animals allows shehita," he said.… (Click here for full article)

So, what are our options now? As a meat eater, I believe one should do the following.

1. Watch the video of the shechita, If you are OK with what happens there, keeping eating meat with no worries.
2. If the video bothers you. Stop eating beef and write letters to the kashrut authorities demanding that the laws of the shechita be followed not just to the letter of the law, but also in the spirit of the law as Rambam prescribes.
3. Stop eating meat altogether

From a reliable source I have found out that in Australia animals are not slaughtered in the same manner as the Iowa plant and thus actually may suffer less than non-kosher animal slaughter. In Australia, the shackle and hoist method(used in Israel) where the cow is strung up by its legs before shechita is not used. Also, the animal is shot with a blot immediately post shechita.

Does any of this effect what you will be eating for dinner tonight?