web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘trade’

The Case for Kosher Lab-Grown Meat

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

According to a recent report, real progress is being made to generate lab grown meat that tastes as good as the real thing without all the cruelty, ghastly side effects, expense and waste of the present worldwide meat industry.

Dr Mark Post, whose lab at the University of Maastricht is experimenting with literally growing meat in Petri dishes, has told the Guardian: “We could be seeing a future where huge quantities of high-quality meat are gown in vats, incorporating not only muscle fibers but layers of real fat and even synthetic bone. In 25 years real meat will come in a packet labeled, ‘An animal has suffered in the production of this product’ and it will carry a big eco tax. I think in 50-60 years it may be forbidden to grow meat from livestock.”

Post is cited in a Grist article as stating something which should be of interest to us Kashrut observers:

“An animal does need to be killed to kick off the in-vitro process, but in theory, a single specimen could provide the seed material for hundreds of tons of meat.”

So, providing that the original specimen was kosher, isn’t this something we Orthodox Jews should welcome?

No one can say it is not acceptable. After all the Gemara tells us that R. Hanina and R. Oshaia spent every Shabbat evening studying the Book of Creation and as a result they were able to create a third-grown calf (comments: or a three year old, or a fat one) and ate it (Sanhedrin 65b).

So, if you could conjure up a living being from a Kabbalistic source book, then why not from a lab? Not only that, but given the halacha, shechita itself would not be necessary, because, purely following the letter of the law, if you kill a cow properly and then out comes a calf, you don’t need any further shechita to make it kosher.

Yet you can bet there will be opposition. Whenever anything threatens the Kosher Meat trade the Rabbis and Dayanim who live by it automatically cry “foul” because they will lose a major source of income. That also explains why those few rabbis who became vegetarians, like the Kamenitzer Maggid, or supported vegetarianism in principle, like Rav Kook, were excoriated and virtually written out of Haredi history.

But the point can be made that, since the Gemara says that the best way to celebrate Shabbatot and Chagim is with meat and wine, it would, it seems, be an offense against tradition to be a teetotal vegetarian – even if no one could point to an actually halacha against either.

Unlike my brother David, I am not a complete vegetarian, but I welcome the possibility of scrapping the meat trade. Indeed, I hope that when Elijah comes to earth he will tell us that in the Third Temple there will only be vegetarian offerings. I find the current situation unacceptable. We spend more money raising one beef animal than would feed an Indian village for a month. Most processes are offensive: the ghastly way most animals bred for slaughter are treated, the awful sights and smells hidden from consumers, the amounts of chemicals fed into animals reared for human consumption, not to mention the dangers of our modern diets. I am not opposed to eating protein but I’d be delighted if there were some way of doing it without subjecting animals to human cruelty.

Mind you, this is not an attack on Shechita. I have seen virtually all officially sanctioned methods of slaughter and I am utterly convinced that of all of them, Shechita, when carried out correctly, is the least painful and disturbing. But as Temple Grandin has shown emphatically, so much of the awfulness of slaughter has to do with the lead up, the corralling, the forcing of animals towards the fate they can smell and hear, not to mention so much cruelty involved in the rearing, the transportation and the preparatory processes of meat production. If only we could have the tasty protein without all that.

Let us assume that all the unemployed Shochatim could be trained to work in other areas of the kosher trade. Why do I still envisage opposition? One reason is simply the reluctance to countenance anything new or to allow science or modern values to challenge ancient traditions. A new concept of religious correctness is that ‘Masorah,’ the way we have always done things, trumps innovation. But there is in fact another issue and it is the tension that exists between the letter of halacha and the spirit.

This is not of course a halachic responsum, but it is conceptual analysis of why in our tradition there is an imperative to consider the careful treatment of animals and why this new development could be very significant and certainly should be welcomed.

The Torah commands us to sacrifice and the cohanim to eat meat. But it is also full of laws concerning animals: not killing a cow and its calf on the same day, not taking a fledgling or egg in front of the mother, not ploughing an ox with an ass together, not muzzling an ox while it threshes.

The rabbis are divided in their rationalizations. Some of course refuse to accept the idea of explanations altogether and emphasize only the significance of an act of obedience to a higher power. Some do indeed say it shows Divine mercy to creatures as a sign of greater mercy towards humans, and others do actually argue that the purpose of showing mercy to animals is to imitate Divine qualities of caring. Neither do I need to rehearse the laws of cruelty to animals, Tzaar Baaley Chayim and the Noachide Laws of “Eiver Min HaChay,” not taking a limb from a living animal. And yet too often one hears these ideas dismissed as figments of non-Jewish moral relativism. “The Nazis were kind to animals” or “Englishmen prefer dogs and horses to humans.”

There is indeed a massive challenge to reconcile caring for animals with the meat trade. And this where Meta Halacha plays an important part. Humans do indeed come first. But that does not mean we should not be concerned with animal welfare. Yet somewhere along the march of history we have lost the thread. Just look at how the custom of Shlogging Kapporas causes such cruelty and no one seems to care.

Take these two narratives about Rebbi Yehudah Hanassi in Bava Metzia 85a
Why did he suffer in life? A calf was being taken to the slaughter. It broke away, hid his head under Rabbi’s skirts, and began to howl. “Go,” he said “because you were created for this.”’ Then they said (on High) “Since he has no pity, let us make him suffer.”’

And why did his suffering end? One day Rabbi’s maidservant was sweeping the house; [seeing] some young weasels lying there, she was about to kill them. He said to her “Let them be, for it is written “ He extends his mercy to all of his creation.” Then they said “‘Since he is compassionate, let us be compassionate to him.”

You could not have a more explicit expression of the significance of the issue. And if this new method can in fact (and it still has some ways to go) change the way we get our meat, then all I can say Yishar Co’ach and Tavoh aleyhem beracha.

The Real Purpose of Boycotts

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Is the purpose of the calls for boycotts against Israel and its citizens a concern for the human rights or welfare of Palestinians, or actually a call ultimately to eliminate the state of Israel? If there were a real concern for the human rights of Palestinians, why are there not calls for a free Palestinian press, or for the release of journalists from Palestinian prisons, or for an end to the corruption in the Palestinian leadership?

Instead, these calls for boycott look suspiciously like a racist response to the existence of a Jewish state — as if most of its citizens were wearing a yellow Star-of-David in Nazi-like fashion, and deserved to be punished or eliminated. Even Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, well-known critics of Israel and pro-Palestinian activists, have characterized the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel as “hypocritical,” and run by individuals who falsely claim to represent the Palestinian people.

Whether the calls for boycott are the product of leftist anti-nationalist posturing, antisemitism, or simple ignorance, is a matter of judgment. In their disingenuous nature they are simplistic responses to complex, unresolved problems that ignore the distinctions between diverse kinds of activities and issues, such as the different territories and populations, or how “appropriately” to defend oneself in the face of continued aggression. If the advocates for boycott do wish for peace, what they are proposing is actually counterproductive: they create an atmosphere in which calls for boycott have been, and are, an obstacle to the start of negotiations between the parties, and in which adversarial positions only become hardened even further as threats are seen to increase. There seems to be a cognitive dissonance, an inability among the boycotters, to distinguish between facts and the spun perception of them; or perhaps there is an indifference to facts, or perhaps there is a reluctance to place any facts at all in the context of the real, ongoing relationship between the disputing parties.

Boycotts of Jews and Jewish interests by Arab groups go back almost a hundred years, and have become more prominent with the declaration in December, 1945, of the newly formed Arab League Council of 23 countries. The declaration stated that, “Jewish products and manufactured goods shall be considered undesirable to the Arab countries.” Hypocrisy was present from the start. The Arab states were less interested in helping Palestinian Arabs than in preventing Jewish products from entering their own countries and competing with them.

This boycott, administered by the Central Boycott Office in Damascus, attempted to isolate Israel economically as well as diplomatically, and did administer some temporary harm to the economy of Israel after the state was established in 1948. In addition to the Arab states, some non-Arab businesses, among them Pepsi, McDonald’s and most Japanese car companies, abided by the boycott, but it was more honored in the breach than in the observance.

Since the 1980s a number of Arab states, starting with Egypt, and with the exception of Syria, have abandoned the boycott, wholly or in part, unable to ignore the new world of globalization, international trade, and binding international trade agreements, particularly that of the World Trade Organization. As a result, Arab countries, both through legal channels and clandestinely through third parties, have been trading with Israeli companies in a considerable fashion, including in irrigation, security systems, and high-tech components, and have accepted Israeli investment.

The boycott is still technically in force by Arab countries, though often bypassed, ineffective and negligible. Its intended impact is now less in economic affairs than in becoming a major polemical weapon in the hands of those non-Arabs who are critical of, or want to condemn, Israel — purportedly because of their opposition of Israeli settlements and their unwillingness to believe that, to the adversaries of Israel, it is regarded as one big settlement.

People can understand the politically motivated logic of Arabs, inside Israel as well as outside, calling for a ban on products made in Israeli settlements, including Ahava Dead Sea health products, Beigel and Beigel pretzels, Super Drink soft drinks, Oppenheimer chocolates, fruits, vegetables, computers, and many other products. It is an illustration of democracy in Israel — and revealing about those who do not wish Israel well — that a major advocate of the boycott is Ahmad Tibi, the Arab-Israeli deputy speaker of the Knesset.

The Fat Nanny State

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/fat-nanny-state.html

It’s easy to dismiss New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s latest nanny state hiccup as the control-freak antics of a powerful man –but that would be missing the point. Bloomberg did not come up with the idea of banning sodas during a spa session on his private island. His implementation of it may be more overtly obnoxious, but the idea that there is a national health crisis that can only be solved by getting people to stop eating sugary foods, is ubiquitous among social policy wonks and national experts on telling people what to do.

In 2007, a conference on obesity was held at George Washington University, sponsored by the Stop Obesity Alliance and the Obesity Association. The Stop Obesity Alliance may sound like a silly afterthought of a group, but its steering committee members include AHIP, the trade group for the health insurance industry; AMGA, the trade association for health care groups; SEIU, one of the largest unions in the country; and NBGH, a business health group representing major companies like Apple, FedEx, Kellogg, Unilever and Walmart.

It was no wonder then that virtually every Democratic and Republican candidate running for office either showed up in person, or sent a proxy to explain how their administration was going to fight obesity.

“The next president must commit to fighting America’s obesity problem and possess the experience to win the fight,” Governor Bill Richardson said, and vowed to make fighting obesity one of his top priorities.

You might be laughing, but don’t. The obesity epidemic buzzword has penetrated every major company, as well as every level of government and academia. That translates into a policy bulldozer with private-public partnerships that will control every aspect of your life.

When think-tanks convince corporations that they’re losing money because of obesity, they sponsor trade associations that invite politicians down to explain what they’re going to do about it. Health insurance companies have crunched the numbers and decided that they can save billions if the government manages to make people lose weight. Corporations that employ a lot of people and pay for their health insurance think they can save a fortune on health insurance if employee obesity is cut. They have their own employee incentives, but mostly they want the government to do something about it.

Why do you think the 2012 election came down to a race between ObamaCare and RomneyCare? Because the power players agree that we need national health care; they only disagree over what kind of national health care we need. Just like they agree that we need “immigration reform,” tolerance for Islam, and a War on Terror that doesn’t disrupt international trade. We don’t need those things, but they do, and they are determined to force them down our throats.

To understand the genesis of Bloomberg’s lunacy, you have to go back to groups like the Stop Obesity Alliance. And it’s not the only such group. There’s the Campaign to End Obesity, whose board includes executives from major health companies and non-profits, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Humana. Every time you hear another talking head going on about the dangers of obesity to America, he’s repeating talking points lifted from “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future”, a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the country’s largest health care foundation, which doles out 400 million dollars a year in grants. Its primary focus… obesity.

“F as in Fat” includes extensive material on government legislation, everything from soda taxes to menu labeling to “complete streets programs,” which New Yorkers will recognize as the melange of bike lanes that squeeze out cars; what they don’t know is that it is used to fight obesity. HR 1780: The Safe and Complete Streets Act is a congressional bill that would turn every city into the same nightmare of snarled traffic and no parking.

Around the same time that policy men and women were telling the Stop Obesity Alliance what they would do about fat people, there were warnings in the U.K. that obesity would bankrupt the NHS, and Australia’s Labor Party vowed to tackle the “national obesity crisis” as a study claimed that 95 percent of Australians were “unfit.” The hysteria is worldwide.

Major British Supermarket Chain Tightens Boycott of Israeli Goods, Companies

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

The Supermarket chain Co-Operative Group, Britain’s fifth-largest food retailer, is the first major European retailer to stop buying from companies that export produce from Israeli settlements east of the Green Line.

According to its statement, the Co-Op has not been purchasing goods from the settlements since 2009, but has been doing business with some 20 Israeli companies which sell goods produced in the settlements.

The largest Israeli agricultural export companies affected by this move are Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin.

The new move will likely stir up a renewed battle inside Israel over the hotly contested “Boycott Law,” passed last summer by the Likud-led coalition, which penalizes anyone who organizes or publicly endorses political boycotts against the country, including campaigns directed at Israeli universities, settlements and businesses in Judea and Samaria.

Under the Boycott Law, such an attempt will be considered a civil offense, like libel or defamation, and groups targeted by a boycott can file a civil lawsuit and seek damages from those who initiated or publicly supported it. This may block Israeli export companies from “cleansing” themselves of ties with Judea and Samaria Jewish growers.

“The Group will also continue to actively work to increase trade links with Palestinian businesses in the occupied territories,” the Co-Operative Group statement said.

On Saturday, Co-Operative Group announced that “following an audit of the Group’s supply chain, it will no longer do business with four companies, accounting for £350,000 worth of sales, as there is evidence that they source from the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories.”

Hilary Smith, Co-op member and Boycott Israel Network (BIN) agricultural trade campaign co-ordinator, told the Guardian that the Co-op “has taken the lead internationally in this historic decision to hold corporations to account for complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights We strongly urge other retailers to take similar action.”

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees, told the Guardian: “Israeli agricultural export companies like Mehadrin profit from and are directly involved in the ongoing colonization of occupied Palestinian land and theft of our water. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, so we warmly welcome this principled decision by the Co-operative. The movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law is proving to be a truly effective form of action in support of Palestinian rights.”

The Jewish Press will update this story as additional information comes in.

Israel Seizes Two Smuggled Egyptian Sarcophagi Covers Where Mummies Once Slept Eternally

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Inspectors of the Israel Antiquities Authority recently seized two covers of Egyptian sarcophagi that contained ancient mummies in the past. The covers were confiscated by inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery while checking shops in the market place of the Old City in Jerusalem. The ancient covers, which are made of wood and coated with a layer of plaster, are adorned with breathtaking decorations and paintings of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The coffins were taken for examination on the suspicion they might be stolen property.

After undergoing examination by experts, which included among other things a Carbon 14 analysis for the purpose of dating the wood, it was unequivocally determined that these items are authentic and thousands of years old: one of the covers is dated to the period between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE (Iron Age) and the other to between the 16th and 14th centuries BCE (Late Bronze Age). Because these are rare artifacts made of organic material, they are being held for the time being in custody, under climate-control conditions, in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Wooden sarcophagi of this kind have only been found in Egypt so far, and were preserved thanks to the dry desert climate that prevails there.

It is suspected that Egyptian antiquities robbers plundered ancient tombs in the region of the Western Desert in Egypt, and afterwards unknown persons smuggled the wooden covers from Egypt to Dubai, and from there they found their way to Israel by way of a third country in Europe. Evidence of their having been smuggled is indicated by the sawing of the covers into two parts, which caused irreparable damage to the ancient items. This was presumably done to reduce their dimensions and facilitate concealing and transporting them in a standard size suitcase. Covers of this kind usually enclosed a sarcophagus made of palm wood c. 2 meters long, which contained the embalmed remains of a person. It is unclear what happened to the mummy and the sarcophagus.

The Israel Antiquities Authority reports that until recently antiquities dealers and other entities have exploited loopholes in the law whereby they brought antiquities into the country for the purpose of “laundering” them. These antiquities, which are alleged to have been plundered in Middle Eastern countries and illegally exported from them, were imported to Israel by local antiquities dealers. In Israel the stolen ancient artifacts were provided documentation that allowed them to be exported and sold abroad to the highest bidder. During the marketing and sales process the dealers would report these antiquities as artifacts that were ostensibly of Israeli provenance.

Regulations regarding the importation of antiquities into Israel were recently amended. The new regulations, which will take effect toward the end of April 2012, require a customs declaration for the importation of antiquities and a preliminary inspection of the items by the Israel Antiquities Authority for the issuance of an import license.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Customs and Tax Authority, will prevent the importation of antiquities into the country without proper documentation that indicates they were legally exported from the country of origin, and thereby significantly reduce the process of “antiquities laundering” and the trade in stolen antiquities in the Middle East.

According to Shai Bar-Tura, inspector in charge of overseeing the antiquities trade on behalf of the IAA Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, “Beginning April 20 there will be a new reality in the antiquities trade in Israel. The new regulation will provide us with the tools in order to prevent the importation into the country of antiquities that were stolen or plundered in other countries, thus enabling us to thwart the international cycle of robbery and trade in stolen archaeological artifacts”.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is engaged in a continuing effort to preserve and protect the historical heritage values of the State of Israel, and to assist in the international struggle against the robbery of antiquities in the Middle East.

Recently Egyptian authorities submitted a request asking that the stolen sarcophagus covers be repatriated. The Egyptian request is being taken under advisement by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the legalities are currently being examined in order to return the objects to their country of origin.

Snubbing the US, Turkey, Iran, Set $30b Trade Target for 2015

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

According to the Iranian news agency Mehr, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the two countries had agreed to increase the volume of bilateral trade to 30 billion dollars within the next three years.

The value of trade between Iran and Turkey surpassed 16 billion dollars in 2011.

earlier in March, Swift, the Belgian-based financial clearing house, bowing to US and European Union pressure, announced that it was cutting financial services to Iranian banks. The move was expected to severely curtail Iran’s ability to sell its oil abroad, but it appears that a variety of rogue states in Asia and South America are eager to deal with the Iranians, despite, or perhaps because of, its nuclear ambitions.

At a joint press conference with Erdogan, Rahimi said that since Erdogan’s visit to Tehran some two years ago, commercial ties between the two countries have increased by 50 percent.

“Today we became determined to boost this rise to 100 percent and achieve the 30 billion dollar target as soon as possible,” Rahimi stated.

The Turkish prime minister also said the value of bilateral trade surpassed 16 billion dollars by the end of 2011 and “our purpose is to increase this figure to 30 billion dollars by 2015.”

Report: India Has Evidence of Iranian Responsibility in Last Month’s Terror Attack on Israeli Diplomat

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Israel’s national security adviser Yaakov Amidror met with Indian home minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in the investigation into last month’s bombing of an Israeli diplomat’s vehicle.

Amidror’s visit comes after Indian authorities arrested Iranian freelance journalist Syed Mohammed Kazmi’s last week on suspicion of links to the terror attack. According to the Economic Times, anonymous sources assert that Kazmi assisted the bombers in conducting reconnaissance of the Israeli diplomats in New Delhi.

India has withheld blame for the attack, though the nationalities of the perpetrators and the tactics used implicate Iran. Haaretz, quoting senior Israeli government officials, reported that India had indeed traced responsibility for the attack to Iranian agents, but is maintaining silence due to its relationship with Iran.

India has been steadfast in its refusal to sever links with Iran, which is India’s second largest oil supplier, and just this week sent a trade delegation to Iran to explore trade opportunities with Iran.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/report-india-has-evidence-of-iranian-responsibility-in-last-months-terror-attack-on-israeli-diplomat/2012/03/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: