Jamie Oliver Hoax – Jewdas Owns Up!

RE: Save Kosher Meat

Whilst Jewdas is an organisation which prides itself on factual accuracy and journalistic integrity, we have to admit that from time to time, even we make mistakes.  We now concede that Jamie Oliver is not about to become the next London Beth D Shochet and never intended to make a Channel Four series about shechita. We are sorry for any confusion we may have caused. We apologise to those who were looking forward to Jamie holding a vat of chulent and describing it as ‘pukka’. We apologise especially to the several individuals in the Hendon area recently seen panic-buying massive quantities of kosher meat – rest assured, your chicken soup is safe.

That said, we would also like to declare this campaign a total success. Who would dare make a TV show about Shechita now? There may not have been an actual threat, but we have spoken out loud and clear against it.

This form of campaigning is far more effective than anything ever attempted before. The Board of Deputies is famous for seeing threats to Jewish life all around them; this approach goes one step further, spotting such threats before they actually exist. All we need to do is to make a list of ‘things that might in future be bad for the Jews’ and launch campaigns against them all. Let us illustrate:

Ok, so the government isn’t actually thinking of banning faith schools, BUT THEY MIGHT. So let’s start a campaign now before our little children are forced to socialise with non jews.

The government may not have yet imposed a heavy tax on air travel, BUT SHOULD THEY DO SO they need to be told that holidays in Eilat are an inalienable Jewish right.

Yes, at the moment there is no specific tax for wearers of beards BUT WHAT IF ONE WAS INTRODUCED? Let’s get the petitions started now.

Now some say that it is possible to play the antisemitism card too readily; we say it is a card best played as often and as forcefully as possible, unencumbered by irritations such as care, caution or facts. This is indeed key to the potential success of all future campaigns. But in reality, we have to admit that most people are way ahead of the game on this one. Plenty of people on the Jamie Oliver petition were using the well-thumbed card. Take this comment for example:

“absolute disgrace.antisemitic motive”

We couldn’t have put it more succinctly. Great stuff. Yet others were even more skilled in the art of defending the Jews. The Jewdas team were full of admiration for this comment:

A visit to a concentration camp might make Jamie Oliver and the Channel 4 producers understand why Jews wish to carry on with all their ancient traditions”

Which perfectly illustrates the key rhetorical point: there is no argument for which the holocaust is not applicable. We say this not in jest, but to guarantee the success of all our future campaigns against yet-to-be-realised, but could-maybe-happen events effecting the Jewish world.

But the petition message board brought out other important issues. Many signatories used humour in their comments, the most popular being the classic “Shechita is a humane form of slaughter” gag. Like jokes anout Jewish mothers, and men called Hymie this shows that the old ones really are the best.

Shechita has been in use for over 3000 years and has proved to be a humane method of slaughter.  

i..e longevity equals ethics. If only the advocates of slavery had thought of that one

a Christian ways in:   KOSHER SLAUGHTER WAS DONE WHICH WAS DONE WHEN JESUS WALKED THE EARTH……. THE PRACTICE OF SHOCHET SLAUGHTER WAS DONE THEN IN THAT HE ATE KOSHER FOOD. IF IT WAS NOT CRUEL TO HIM IN THAT HE MUST HAVE FELT IT WAS DONE IN A HUMANE MANNER.

Obviously.

If shechita was in any way inhumane, Judaism would not have adopted it. It’s as simple as that. 

Brilliant. Everything Judaism does is de-facto moral.  The Israel advocates need to adopt that one, it would save them a lot of time and effort

And while we’re on the subject, just in case you thought it was possible to have a discussion without mentioning Israel

This programme will just fuel existing anti semitism. The Jewish community here just try to get on with their lives. You dont ever hear about our children ever causing any violent crime ridden attacks. We are a law abiding community. And whilst we are at it why dont you make a documentary about the poor people of Sderot Israel who live under seige from Qassam rockets and missiles fired from Gaza.  There have been almost 3000 rockets fired in the past three months. Are you ignoring them because they are Jews and not Palestinians?

But a few correspondents started to take the discussion in more interesting and fruitful directions

The meaning of this initiative is that Jews will be coerced into becoming vegetarians. Isn’t this an infringement of their human rights?

and

Of course an animal knows it is going to be killed and is frightened. It doesn’t mean shechita is any more painful than any other form of slaughter. Is the suggestion we all become vegetarians?

No doubt that the suggestions made by these signatories, that Jews might have to become vegetarians is meant as hyperbole-a ludicrous suggestion, designed to show the impossibility of banning shecita. This is satire within satire.

But of course vegetarianism/veganism is the elephant in the room in this entire debate. Aggadically, the Jewish case for not eating meat is strong and well known, resting on the fact that no meat was eaten in the paradigmatic utopia of eden, that when eating meat is permitted it is a concession to human desire rather than a commanded act like the granting of Israelite Kings, and also Bemidbar (Numbers) 18-20, where the Israelites reject manna, the pure food of equality in favour of meat and fish which is then granted ‘until it comes out of your nostrils’.

Halachically, the case is a little more complex, as eating meat has long been a part of Jewish culture, and is thus permitted by halachists. But a case on narrow halachic grounds is eminently feasible: 1) Jews are forbidden from causing suffering to animals under the laws of Tza’ar Ba’alei Hayyim. 2) Modern industrialized farming (even in many organic systems) constantly and systematically causing huge pain and suffering to animals and thus violates halachah. 3) It is forbidden to eat meat produced under modern instensive farming conditions.

Such a proposal may go too far for some and not far enough for others. It doesn’t rule out eating meat reared on very small farms, and treated to the highest ethical standards. Arguably, to be sure this is the case, one must rear the animal oneself. To go further, to argue that meat and fish should never be eaten, that living creatures cannot be slaughtered merely to fulfil human tastes calls for a meta-aggadah-a deeply rooted jewish ethic to transform the halachic tradition.

Steve Greenberg discusses the relation between particular laws and a wider ethical tradition by comparing the Torah to the American constitution (need exact reference). While the constitution  proclaimed all men equal under God in 1785, slavery  was not abolished until 1865-an ethical principle lay dormant before finally being enshrined into law.  Greenberg makes the same case about Judaism’s founding principles of equality, enshrined for him in Genesis 1 and Shir Hashirim (A claim also made by Jewish feminist writers such as Marcia Falk and Rachel Adler) This ethical vision may be been gradually built piecemeal, as, Judith Hauptman argues, the Rabbis gradually improved the legal position of women, or in how Judaism views non Jews, as in the famous position of the Meiri. Greenberg powerfully makes the case that now, in the early 21st century, we are now in a position to make a quantam leap towards the Jewish ethical ideal, in this case by the complete inclusion of Gay and Lesbian Jews, but the same case can be made for vegetarianism.  This is similar to ethicist and philosopher Peter Singer’s notion of ‘The expanding circle’- societies slowly expanding those who are subject to their moral concern, from only male members of the tribe/group, to women, to minors, to nearby groups, to those with ‘unconventional’ lifestyles, nomads, homosexuals, to non human animals. Of course, one can always choose halachic particularity  over this ethical process. As Michael Berger points out (“The Halakhic basis for disobedience”)  Jews in the segregationist  states of the USA in the 1950s could easily have dodged any ethical obligation, by simply pointing to the halachic principle of dina de-malkhuta dina: the law of the land is law. However most Jews did not take this, focusing on Kevod Ha-briyot (dignity  of all creation), and seeing segregation as “incompatible with if not corrosive of this core Jewish value”.   Fulfilling Jewish ethical principles by gradually and consistently expanding ones concern until the rights of all beings are considered-Is there any greater messianism than this?

So:

I am convinced that kosher slaughtering of animals is far less cruel than the barbaric practice of pre-stunning

Maybe. But so what? Is that what you call ethics? Should this be where the Jewish community puts its immense energy, forwarding emails, signing petitions calling up politicians and journalists, when we could instead make an immense leap forward, in fulfilment of out deepest ethical tradition, by stopping eating animals altogether. Maybe the laws of kashrut have brought us half the way-problematising eating, making meat consumption more difficult. But now, with the notion of animal rights widely accepted and when the vast majority of Jews, in the words of Rabbi David Rosen “live in a time an places where we can obtain all our necessary nutrients without needing to take advantage of this concession [of eating meat]”, slaughtering for food must be considered at variance with Judaism and therefore prohibited. The day is short, the work is large, the reward is great and Jeffrey Cohen is impatient.

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