Hey remember that time you agreed with the war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu and you threw up into your own mouth a little? The guy that Spain just issued an arrest warrant for over the 2010 Gaza flotilla attack?
Recall the Israeli Embassy in New Zealand trying to sanitise their image by marching in the Pride parade? An example of pink-washing? Well they’re trying to vegan-wash their image as well and that is an international effort. It’s all part of that push to re-brand themselves as socially progressive, forward focused, do-gooders. Right now there is a massive wave of veganism sweeping the ranks that has become popular with Israelis due to the ‘Best Speech You Ever Heard’ by one of the more heinous vegan activists Gary Yourofsky. Yourofsky is renowned for that famous video along with a huge barrage of atrocious statements about women deserving to be raped and murdered for wearing leather, eating meat, etc. I could go on for a long time about that dude. He’s not very nice, and he’s particularly misogynistic to women. Anyway, the speech is OK, I mean I’m vegan, I agree with at least some of it, despite some of the average quality appeals to nature, general uncomfortable sense of arrogance, etc.
Then comes this article published by The Atlantic and I have to say the intention of it bothers me. Is the intent to gain consent for the occupation? In this article we hear about the fact the military is now catering to the dietary and clothing requests of vegans and it is said that Benjamin Netanyahu himself is well into all of this and has adopted a “Meatless Monday” and was “reading up on the topic” quoted as saying “[I] understood that animals are more conscious than we thought, which is bothering me and making me think twice,” he said at a cabinet meeting. This was shared on vegan.com which is a vegan news media site with 500,000+ followers on Facebook.
OK whut? Stop right there. My consent isn’t about to be manufactured is it? Because it kiiiiiiind of feels like you’re trying to tell me that this guy – sorry I mean war criminal – is somehow being won over by a new epoch of vegan compassion and might just be a cool dude! Man! They are reeeeeeeeally progressive over there.
I feel like saying “Bro, do you know who else is also more conscious than you may have thought? OTHER PEOPLE.” I’m just imagining this wannabe future vegan ordering the attack on the Mavi Marmara while spreading messages of peace inspired by the most heinous vegan Gary Yourofsky. My blood curdles.
This is not my veganism. In my mind this is a philosophy that understands the forces that cause oppression of all kinds are interconnected. It is a stance based on ethical political awareness, environmental awareness, compassion and public health. It is intellectually and ethically well-founded and ought to be self-aware. It’s not to be used as a political tool to rubber stamp some atrocities.
You will never hear me saying I don’t want to be vegan. I have a strong belief in animal compassion. I want to see an end to the exploitation of humans and animals in accordance with strongly founded values. I’m genuinely glad some Israelis have given thought to animals, but I would be very careful about congratulating that vegan-washing administration any more than I’d congratulate a pink-washing one. I will be aware. Your war crimes are still morally wrong and no amount of tofu eating makes any difference.
I’ve heard so many things said about this “C’mon! Emphasise the positive!” and by vegan.com “There’s probably no step towards veganism that is impossible to critique in some way.” Actually I’m sorry but that’s a massive cop out. You’ll excuse me but calling yourself a vegan news media organisation and promoting information like this can never be said to be a-political. By the time you’re communicating as a news media source and repeating information to over 500,000 people you can be damn sure your actions are political whether you like it or not. I would be shocked if this organisation was not self aware and assume have some base critical analysis. I assume that they have an ‘at all costs’ approach. And I feel it, I really do. I’m not saying you need perfection from your heroes and I can see the huge conundrum animal rights activists face. We want so desperately for animals to be liberated. But I’m saying we can still pick and choose what we support. So perhaps not like so “yay” about the new epoch of war criminal vegans in a way that seems to sanction the colonisation of that area. And perhaps don’t act as a mindless relay station for this PR piece intent on sanitising the occupation without at least some kind of thought. It’s not good.
There is a significant difference between being grateful about individual Israelis who have become vegan and being positive about that particular military and Netanyahu of all people.