Tal Gilboa, one of the loudest animal rights activist in Israel and founder of organization “Glass Walls,” shatters the axiom which says that to be vegan is to be progressive.
Gilboa, an outspoken supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, is now the Prime Minister’s unofficial advisor on animal rights. Though she would say next to nothing about her friendship with Netanyahu’s son Yair, which became public knowledge a year ago, she does admit that this led to her getting close to the rest of the family.
Gilboa, who influenced Yair Netanyahu to turn vegan, says Benjamin Netanyahu is the only prime minister ever to be concerned with animal rights. According to what she wrote on Facebook this week, Netanyahu “appointed me to take lead on this issue.”
Gilboa’s post followed a Ha’aretz column published over the weekend by novelist Eyal Megged entitled “The Silent Revolution.” Megged, himself a vegan, opened his piece in this progressive newspaper with: “This transitional government makes me happy.” The reason for his bliss: This government “takes the first initial steps for the liberation of animals.” “The appointment of vegan prophetess Tal Gilboa as the prime minister’s advisor for animal rights,” he writes, “is an earthquake.”
But Megged’s column was ridiculed by many of Ha’aretz devotees. “Bad man and writer. We will continue to run for the bomb shelter and kill children in Gaza,” wrote one. “Dr. Doolittle meets Goebbels,” wrote another, and you get the drift.
Gilboa responded to such vicious attacks on Megged by stating that “those who amaze me the most are vegans who wish my appointment were a fiction, so as not to give any credit to the only party leader who speaks about animals … because he is a right-winger and the vegan issue is associated with the left.”
Though Gilboa uses the extreme vegan vocabulary, that which speaks about “murdering” animals and so on, the justification for her veganism relies also on Jewish religious sources. The motto of Glass Walls, for example, is “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made” (Psalms 145:9). The house “rabbi” of Glass Wall is Asa Keisar, whose public lectures make a convincing case for “biblical veganism.”
Eating meat, most rabbis would agree, was allowed only because of the weakness of the flesh, so to speak. Numbers 11, for example, specifically states that the desire for meat is a form of rebelliousness. The concern for animal welfare is a weighty issue in both the Bible and rabbinic thought, which millennia ago taught us what today’s animal rights activists still can’t quite grasp. To give but one example, any Jew who prays the daily prayers will recite the Shema (Hear O’ Israel), which includes a reminder that God first feeds the animals, as it says, “I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
Is that be enough to speak in terms of animal “rights” and “liberation,” or to justify comparisons of slaughterhouses to concentration camps, as some Israeli animal rights activists have done? I think not. Still, it gives hope that Israel, either under the leadership of Netanyahu or someone else, might become a place where at the very least animals don’t suffer.