Letters | Anti-Semitic Semantics and Harming Animals

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‘Anti-Semitic’ Semantics

I agree with David Romanoff’s letter on March 28 and ask his permission to elaborate. The term “anti-Semitism” is imprecise and vague and can be used in evasive ways such as the old one-liner about the Arab who says he can’t be an anti-Semite because he is a Semite.

Of more serious importance is the use of the word in the current political discourse about the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I submit that this argument exists partly because of the vagueness of the word “anti-Semitism.” Merriam-Webster defines a Semite as “a member of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews and Arabs.”

I am 100 percent confident that none of the modern haters of the Jewish people have the Akkadians or the Phoenicians in mind when they use the term “anti-Semite.” So let’s just use plain English and call Jew hatred what it is, Jew hatred, and let us not be afraid that it sounds harsh. The truth is often harsh.

Benjamin H. Bloom | Wynnewood

Harming Animals Is Not Moral

Thanks for the excellent d’var by Rabbi Abe Friedman. I appreciate his analysis, but I’m afraid his conclusion falls short.

With the premise that kashrut focuses on our moral well- being, Friedman highlighted the maltreatment of both animals and humans in the mainstream animal agriculture industry (both kosher and non). He mentioned that his family switched to buying their meat from kosher co-ops where they felt more comfortable that the animals and humans were “treated with decency.” I have no doubt that the human workers were treated better at those smaller kosher purveyors, but tell me, how can the killing of a living, sentient creature who doesn’t want to die be considered in any way “decent”?

And if we are really going to concern ourselves with morality, let’s think about the other animal foods that were omitted from this d’var.

Forget about the brisket for a moment and look at the eggs in the matzah balls and the dairy in the kugel. Inherent in egg production — whether from cage-free hens or not — is the cruel asphyxiation or maceration of all baby male chicks (male chicks born to skinny egg-laying hens have no production value so they’re killed en masse).

Dairy involves ripping a baby calf away from her mother to prevent her from engaging in the first natural mammalian instinct (to bond with and nurse from her mother) and repeatedly impregnating female cows until they’re “spent” (around age 4, whereas a cow who is not so tortured can live well into her 20s).

The truth to which we seem blind is that all animals have an interest in not suffering. And if we are to reach the moral high ground, we must refrain from harming them.

Even though the Torah doesn’t so explicitly provide, I don’t see a moral alternative to veganism. I am not a scholar of Torah like Friedman. I would just hope that if the Torah is truly a living text, we would put more emphasis on the “living” rather than the “text.”

Dara Lovitz | Philadelphia

Democrats Make Excuses

The March 21 Exponent had three articles and two letters pertaining to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic statements. The writers were all from different perspectives. Only one — a liberal Democrat — made excuses for Omar’s anti-Jewish rhetoric. Unfortunately, making excuses for anti-Semitic statements is common in the Democratic Party. Democrats spew this anti-Semitic garbage continuously. I hope my Jewish brethren will take note.

Jerome Cantor | Philadelphia

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