A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, Now VEGAN Activist – Is There A Line Between Animal And Human Suffering?

A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, Now VEGAN Activist – Is There A Line Between Animal And Human Suffering?


When I first saw the slaughterhouse, I saw all those body parts and it brought back memories. Based on your experiences, why did you then choose to become an animal advocate rather than a human rights advocate? I think that the oppression of animals is the gateway drug to oppressing humans. Because when a child is first told that the dog on his sofa is to be loved and cherished, whereas the pig on his plate is to be abused, killed, dismembered, and eaten for food. That’s the first time that we instill the notion in a child’s mind that it is okay to discriminate between two living beings that basically look and seem alike, which is the basis of all forms of oppression, that you’re basically telling one living being that he can live and another that he must die… Living beings who look basically the same. Obviously as time passes, there are less and less people with direct experience of the Nazi-led holocaust. Can you describe, in its rawest terms, what it’s like having your human rights removed and being treated like nothing? Yeah, it’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s probably as close as you get to identifying with what an animal goes through on a factory farm. What’s so similar about it? There are a lot of similarities between the way the Nazis were killing our people and the way that we kill animals. For one thing, the identification of the victims by tattooing or branding their skin. For another, was the use of cattle cars to transport our people to the gas chambers, the crowded housing in wood crates. The deception and the hiding of the crime behind slaughterhouse walls or death camp walls. What do you say to the people that are offended by that comparison? Right, so we’re not comparing victims here, obviously because I am a Jew; I am much more sensitive to the persecution of Jews. Because I am a human, I am more sensitive to the oppression of human beings. But because I am also concerned with the moral universe, I am also very concerned, with the oppression of all living beings, including sentient animals. How did you step out of your own experiences to empathize and relate to others, rather than sort of staying in the mindset and the mindframe of being a victim? Right, that’s a good question. Yeah, I think that being a victim, and identifying yourself as a victim is very destructive in a couple ways. It’s destructive in a personal way because it keeps you from developing you human potential, and it’s destructive in a social way because it gives you permission to ignore the suffering of others and perhaps even to oppress others. When we’re looking at injustice and discrimination, is it important to focus on the victim, or are you saying that’s not very good, that’s not beneficial? No, it’s not beneficial at all because the victim doesn’t matter; that’s not going to solve oppression because the victim will never be the same. We’re focusing on the victims rather than the cancer of oppression itself. And as long as we continue to focus on the victims, that will divide us and keep us from uniting and pursuing a common goal of eradicating all forms of oppression. It’s easy now for people to look back at what happened in Nazi Germany and think, “How did that ever happen?” Do you ever think there’ll be a time and we’ll think back in the same way at the horrors of animal agriculture and the plight of animals and the way they’re treated? Absolutely, we will. I think 50 years from now, people, our children, grandchildren, will look at us and basically ask, “What did you do to stop this abuse and slaughter of animals?” You said that you’re confident of a vegan future in the next 50 years. What do you think will be the main kind of drive behind that? It’s the changing the food system, which has two parts to it. One is to provide an ample supply of plant based foods that mimic their animal based counter parts, and the other is to foster the demand by making sure our institutions include those items on their menus.