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AHershaft1730 karma

My passion for animals is less about a particular fondness for animals (I have no companion animals, for instance) and more about what I see as our obligation to those who seem the least similar to us. As I pondered the phrase "Never again", popular in my Jewish community, I realized it means that I can never again contribute to unnecessary suffering or exploitation.

AHershaft1354 karma

My first hand experience with animal farming was instrumental. I noted the many similarities between how the Nazis treated us and how we treat animals, especially those raised for food. Among these are the use of cattle cars for transport and crude wood crates for housing, the cruel treatment and deception about impending slaughter, the processing efficiency and emotional detachments of the perpetrators, and the piles of assorted body parts - mute testimonials to the victims they were once a part of.

AHershaft878 karma

I was born in Warsaw, Poland, on July 1, 1934 to fairly assimilated Jewish parents Jozef and Sabina Herszaft. My mother was a mathematician, and my father was a chemist researching the properties of heavy water (used as a coolant for nuclear reactors) at University of Warsaw with his partner Jozef Rotblat.

Their research was in great demand, as Western scientists began to recognize the potential of harnessing nuclear energy, and both received visas to continue their work in the U.K. and the U.S. Rotblat left for the U.K just before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and eventually received the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his subsequent opposition to nuclear weapons. My father insisted on visas for my mother and I, but those came too late.

During the war, our family was forced to move into the Warsaw Ghetto, with with my mother's parents, across the street from the infamous Pawiak prison. As the Nazis began liquidating the Ghetto in late 1942, sending inmates to the Treblinka death camp, we were able to escape to the Christian side and remain in hiding. My father was tragically caught and presumed murdered. My mother and I were liberated by the allies in the spring of 1945.

AHershaft844 karma

The negative reaction is largely due to people's mistaken perception that the comparison values their lives equally with those of pigs and cows. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What we are doing is pointing to the commonality and pervasiveness of the oppressive mindset, which enables human beings to perpetrate unspeakable atrocities on other living beings, whether they be Jews, Bosnians, Tutsis, or animals. It's the mindset that allowed German and Polish neighbors of extermination camps to go on with their lives, just as we continue to subsidize the oppression of animals at the supermarket checkout counter.

AHershaft694 karma

It does bother me, it is disrespectful, and it does remind people of a dark period in human history. The great danger is that people may think that oppression has been eradicated from the face of the earth with German surrender on May 8th 1945. Unfortunately, we've seen more recent examples in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Sudan. The German distinction is that the Nazi hierarchy had more time to brainwash their people into objectifying their victims and more resources to devote to exterminating them.

The virus of oppression lies dormant in each of us, looking for an opportunity to rise and blossom every time we bully a less popular classmate, when we fail to intervene in an oppressive situation, or even when we subsidize the oppressive meat industry at the supermarket checkout counter.