A Belgian radio ad that is accused of drawing on Holocaust themes to promote a ban on ritual slaughter has drawn sharp criticism from Jewish and Muslim representatives.
The ad, which the Antwerp-based animal welfare group Gaia produced for airing on national radio and sent Monday via email to 200 politicians, delivers a mock testimony told from the perspective of a lamb waiting for the slaughter.
“We were asleep when they came for us,” the voice-over for the lamb says. “I couldn’t understand a word of their foreign language. They hurled us in the truck and took us to a building with blood on the floor. I know what will happen to me but I can only wait.”
An announcer then says: “Without stunning, animals are very aware of what goes on in the slaughterhouse. Politicians, change the law and forbid ritual slaughter.”
Jewish and Muslim religious laws require animals to be conscious at the time of their slaughter — a practice that some animal rights activists deem cruel.
In a strongly worded condemnation of the ad, Nicolas Zomersztajn of Brussels’ Jewish Secular Community Center told the Belgian news agency Belga that the ad was “a new example of the trivialization of the crime of genocide by Gaia activists.”
The Executive Committee of Belgian Muslims said the campaign “bordered on racism.”
A Gaia spokesperson denied the ad contained references to the Holocaust.
“This is an attempt to describe what animals experience now without any religious or historic connotations,” the spokesperson told JTA on Thursday. Asked about the “foreign language” element, she replied: “Yes, animals don’t understand people.”
The PETA animal rights group apologized to the Jewish community for its “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign in 2005, two years after the Anti-Defamation League termed it “a project for trivializing the murder of six million Jews.”