Animal Group Apologizes

By Gabriel Sanders

Published May 13, 2005, issue of May 13, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, apologized last week for the group’s 2003 “Holocaust on Your Plate” ad campaign, which juxtaposed images of World War II concentration camps with contemporary images of animal mistreatment.

Without the fanfare that usually accompanies announcements from the famously media-savvy group, the apology was quietly distributed to Jewish groups last week on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Though nearly all corners of the Jewish world had called for some sort of apology, reactions to Newkirk’s letter have been mixed. While some saw it as a welcome corrective to a misbegotten effort, critics have found it to be at best insufficient and at worst cynical and insincere.

The scope of the apology was limited. Though Newkirk apologized for “pain caused,” the bulk of her letter was devoted to a defense of the effort.

“The ‘Holocaust on Your Plate’ campaign was designed to sensitize people to different forms of systematic degradation and exploitation, and the logic and methods employed in factory farms and slaughterhouses are analogous to those used in concentration camps,” the letter said.

Newkirk wrote that she was “bowled over” by the negative reaction to the campaign in Jewish circles, noting that it was “unintended and unexpected.”

“We did aim to be provocative,” she said. “We did not, however, aim simply to provoke.”

The letter was, in large measure, the result of lobbying on the part of Jewish groups that have ties to Peta.

Richard H. Schwartz, president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, offered qualified praise.

“While I wish that [it] had been stronger,” Schwartz wrote in an e-mail to the Forward, “I am very pleased that Peta has issued an apology…. I believe that it is now essential to emphasize common ground in working to end the current mistreatment of animals on factory farms.”

Noted Orthodox lawyer Nathan Lewin said that the statement is “not really an apology.”

“It’s an acknowledgement of a miscalculation,” said Lewin, the lawyer for the glatt kosher AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, which late last year was charged by Peta with engaging in inhumane slaughtering practices. “In an apology one withdraws what one has previously said.”

To Lewin, the letter can be seen as an attempt to return public focus to the Iowa slaughterhouse, which, after garnering much attention for a time, has of late slipped from public view. “It seems to me it is clearly an effort to get back in the media, which is what Peta does all the time,” Lewin said.

According to Aaron Gross, a graduate student in religious studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, who has served as an unpaid adviser to Peta on the Iowa slaughterhouse case, the letter had been in the works for some time. Gross said that in order to avoid linking the two issues, the group deliberately held the letter until the Iowa campaign was no longer “active.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, told the Forward that the issue of hurt feelings was only “one of the sins of this incredibly offensive campaign.” Newkirk’s “essential sin,” Shafran said, “is that she equates humans with animals.” Instead of apologizing for this, he said, “she reiterates it.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.