- What is the purpose of this campaign?
– The purpose is to end all forms of oppression, including our oppression of animals, by drawing on the lessons of the Holocaust.
- Who is behind this campaign?
– The campaign was launched by Dr. Alex Hershaft, an American survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and a champion of animal liberation, after years of reflection and internal turmoil. For more information on Dr. Hershaft, please visit the next section and the two embedded videos.
- Are you comparing Jews and pigs?
– We are not comparing human victims of the Holocaust with animal victims of factory farming. Such comparisons are not at all helpful. Instead, we are noting the similarities in the mindset and procedures of the perpetrators and attempting to draw lessons to help minimize future tragedies of oppression.
- What’s wrong with focusing on victims of oppression?
– Oppression is never about the victims. The victims certainly deserve our empathy and respect, but focusing on their respective identity or moral value offers no solution. On the contrary, focusing on the victims distracts us from striking at the roots of oppression, sets up a destructive victimhood contest among victim defense groups, confers a modicum of legitimacy on the oppressor, and may even encourage some victims to oppress others.
- Do you care more about animals than people?
– Of course not. We tend to care more for other people than for non-human animals, because we relate more to people. But we recognize that sentient animals can suffer just as we do, and this is why many of us are more likely to care for our family dog than for a starving child in Yemen.
- Aren’t you exploiting the Holocaust by comparing it to animal slaughter?
– To the contrary, we are honoring the memory of my people by drawing valuable lessons for fighting oppression from their supreme sacrifice.
- Does surviving the Holocaust lend you special authority to compare it to animal slaughter?
– The Holocaust and our abuse and slaughter of animals are both mind-boggling tragedies that are difficult to compare. However, surviving the Holocaust has lent me a huge incentive to derive some useful lessons for ending all oppression. It has also given me a keen insight on how a caged animal awaiting slaughter must feel.
- Was the Holocaust a particularly German phenomenon?
– Perhaps in terms of organization and magnitude, but it appears that we are all capable of oppressing or abetting the oppression of other sentient beings.
- So, how do we go about ending oppression?
– We must start by understanding and eliminating the conditions that nurture oppression as well as the incentives for oppressing others. The four necessary conditions are: a) a perceived need to exploit, abuse, or put down others, b) availability of vulnerable victims, c) social sanction of oppressive practices, and d) lack of awareness or care by the witnesses.
- How does society sanction oppression?
– By making an arbitrary decision that one sentient being must live, but another, similar in most respects, must die. We first introduce this notion in a child’s mind when we tell him that the dog on the couch must be loved and cared for, but the pig on his plate must be abused, killed, dismembered, and The Nazi society made a similar decision about Christians and Jews.
- What is the role of witnesses?
– People who witness oppression, but fail to speak up or otherwise intervene are enabling the oppressor. As Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel noted, “Silence favors the oppressor – never the victim.”
- And what are the incentives for oppression?
– The most common are: a) low self-esteem and jealousy, leading the oppressor to bring down others to his level, b) a desire to consolidate one’s political or social power, and c) a quest for financial gain.
- And how do we eliminate the incentives for oppression?
– This is outside our sphere of competence, but we suspect that preventing victimization of people would help, as victims may well become oppressors.
- I am respectful toward others, so how am I contributing to oppression?
– Probably in several ways. When we purchase animal products or products of human exploitation, we are directly subsidizing oppression. When we witness abuse but do not speak up, we are abetting oppression.
- Why worry about animals when so many people are oppressed?
– Because the oppression of animals is the gateway to all oppression, because animals share our feelings, and because we can. For a more extensive answer, please visit our “Why Animals” section.
- I am already vegetarian, and buy cage-free eggs. What’s wrong with that?
– For every hen who lays eggs, her baby brother is suffocated slowly in a plastic garbage bag or ground alive immediately upon hatching. When the hen’s egg production drops, usually after 18 months, she is ground up for animal feed, as her flesh is too tough for chicken nuggets.
- I am already vegetarian, and buy only grass-fed milk and cheese. What’s wrong with that?
– In order to maintain adequate milk production, a dairy cow is artificially impregnated once a year. Her baby is torn away from her immediately after birth and killed for veal, or raised to replace one of the “older” cows, who is sent to slaughter after a couple of pregnancies. The mother cow bellows for days for her baby.
- What’s the first step in my personal journey to stop oppression?
– Our very first step is to stop subsidizing the abuse and slaughter of animals by choosing plant-based foods. For additional guidance, please visit our recommendations at the bottom of the “Why Animals” section.
Please feel free to contact us for answers to any additional questions.