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Animal rights and antisemitism: Wikis

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Some anti-Semites have used animal rights arguments as a means of promoting hatred of Jews. In the 1930s, the Nazis used photographs of kosher slaughter as part of their campaign to inflame anti-Jewish sentiment. More recently, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke supported the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaign against the practice of kosher slaughter in the United States. [2290]

Kathleen Kete, associate professor of history at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, argues that, although the animal liberation movement is regarded as progressive, in fact the history of animal rights belongs neither to the right nor to the left. Animal protection concerns fall within both progressive and repressive agendas.

In the 1930s and 40s, the anti-vivisectionist movement saw vivisection as "the extreme expression of European rationalism," says Kete. "It represented the evils of modernity. In some circles in Switzerland and Germany, an earlier representation of modernity and its dangers — the Jew — merged with the image of the scientist. 'Jewish science' was targeted by anti-vivisectionists and 'Jewish' treatment of animals — evidenced in kosher butchering, and countered by vegetarianism — was deplored." <ref name=Najafi>Najafi, Sina. "Beastly Agendas: An Interview with Kathleen Kete", Cabinet, Issue 4, Fall 2001.</ref>

The Nazis, argues Kete, brought in the most comprehensive animal protection laws in Europe, including the banning of kosher slaughter. Vivisecton was chacterized as "Jewish" and banned. <ref name=Arluke>Arluke, Arnold & Sax, Boria. "Understanding Nazi Animal Protection and the Holocaust", Anthrozoos 5(1):6-31; 1992) cited by Kathleen Kete in Najafi, Sina. "Beastly Agendas: An Interview with Kathleen Kete", Cabinet, Issue 4, Fall 2001.</ref> Arnold Arluke and Boria Sax argue that Nazi animal protection measures "may have been a legal veil to level an attack on the Jews. In making this attack, the Nazis allied themselves with animals since both were portrayed as victims of 'oppressors' such as Jews.'"<ref name=Cockburn>Arluke, Arnold & Sax, Boria. "Understanding Nazi Animal Protection and the Holocaust", Anthrozoos 5(1):6-31; 1992) cited in Cockburn, Alexander Vegetarians, Nazis for Animal Rights, Blitzkrieg of the Ungulates, Counterpunch, August 18, 2005</ref> According to Alexander Cockburn, composer Richard Wagner associated Jews with vivisection "presumably because of kosher killing methods" and encouraged physical attacks on vivisectionists.<ref name=Cockburn2>Cockburn, Alexander, " A Short, Meat-Oriented History of the World. From Eden to the Mattole", New Left Review I/215, January-February 1996</ref>

"Nazi German identity," Arluke and Sax conclude, "relied on the blurring of boundaries between humans and animals and the constructing of a unique phylogenetic hierarchy that altered conventional human­animal distinctions and imperative ...As part of the natural order, Germans of Aryan stock were to be bred like farm stock, while 'lower animals' or 'subhumans,' such as the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, were to be exterminated like vermin as testament to the new 'natural' and biological order conceived under the Third Reich."
<ref name=Cockburn/>

The important point, says Kete, is that the first 20th-century solution to "the problem of what Keith Thomas calls 'the dethronement of humans'" was seen in Nazism.
"The radical right in the 1930s and 1940s produced the worst possible solution to this problem," Kete argues. "Animal liberation, on the left, is exploring some others. It is a mark of Peter Singer's importance that he has raised for us this most central philosophical issue of our time." <ref name=Najafi/>

In the past decade, Belgium, France, Germany and Holland have banned
shechita , the ritual slaughter of animals required by Jewish dietary laws, bringing the total number of European countries banning the practice to eight. These bans have been implemented, in part, because of campaigning by animal rights activists who argue that the practice is cruel as animals are not stunned before slaughter.<ref name=Anti-Shechtia> Anti-Schectia MODIA project, New York University</ref>The Swiss banned kosher slaughter in 1902 and saw an anti-Semitic backlash against a proposal to refuse to lift it a century later. <ref name=HBerlin>Berlin, Howard, "Jews, Muslims on same side of several battles", NewsJournal, March 8, 2004.</ref> Both Holland and Switzerland have considered extending the ban in order to prohibit importing kosher products.

The bans are seen by some commentators as part of a "new wave of ugly, and sometimes violent, anti-Semitism sweep[ing] through the European continent."
<ref name=WND>World Net Daily, "Europe's new face of anti-Semitism 5 countries now ban production of kosher meat as synagogues burn, boycott of Israel continues", December 3, 2002.</ref>
  • see also New anti-Semitism#European bans on shechitah

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