A couple of weeks ago, while browsing my facebook page, I noticed a video featuring a young man with a Nazi flag behind him. The weird part about that video was that all my friends, who have shared this video on their page, have shared it as a vegan related post.
What’s the connection?
This I had to watch.
Turns out that the video my friends were sharing on Facebook, entitled “Ideology”, was created and produced by two young and talented visual communication students from the Israeli art and design academy, Bezalel.
Their class was given an assignment by their vegetarian lecturer, Shani Gershi, to produce videos which will discourage people from consuming and abusing animals. Asaf and Irena, like others in their class, debated which approach to take and eventually decided to try and challenge people’s opinions by creating an alarming parallel between the Nazi ideology and the way we look at animals.
Creating an alarming parallel
The video depicts a young Neo-Nazi talking about his beliefs: “This is how I was raised. That’s how I was taught”. “I suppose they have feelings. I don’t know. What they feel is of no interest to me”. “If I had to? Yeah. I think I’ll be able to kill”. You’d be forgiven for assuming that these words were connected to the Nazi ideology, but in fact all the sentences Asaf and Irena put in the actor’s mouth are exact quotes from preliminary street interviews they conducted with people regarding their attitude towards ANIMALS.
“We tried to stay neutral when people were giving their answers [about their attitude towards eating animals] but it was very difficult. Some people answered out of complete ignorance, some out of lack of awareness, and some just gave very cruel answers. It was very hard to remain indifferent” says Irena. “People’s lack of empathy and complete lightheartedness about this subject ran a shiver down my spine” adds Asaf.
Just because you don’t see it…
Others students in their class, like Netanel Hagag and Hagai Shechter (who have produced and directed the second video featured in this article), chose to focus on notions such as: “just because you don’t see it – does not mean it does not exist or that you are not responsible”.
However, it was Asaf and Irena’s video that turned out to be the most controversial. “While most of the reactions we received were positive, many were not able to see the point we tried to make beyond the use of the Holocaust in the video” says Irena. “Though this comparison was made before by PETA, we tried to take it to a different place that will make people think beyond” says Asaf.
The comparison has indeed been made before, and not just by PETA. Jewish author and Nobel Prize winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who managed to evade the Nazis himself, yet lost some of his family members during the holocaust, has also used his literature to point out the cruel similarities between the Holocaust and animal slaughter. Singer coined the term “Eternal Treblinka” in relation to animals (later used as a title of a book by Holocaust researcher, Charles Patterson on the same topic) when he wrote: “They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka”. In this he has expressed the same notion other known writers and philosophers have expressed, such as Theodor W. Adorno, who was quoated saying: “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals”.
Please do share your thoughts with us. Are such comparisons beneficial to the understanding of the cruelty of the meat and dairy industry? Will such comparisons wake people from their complacency or do they diminish the pain and the suffering of the Nazi’s victims?