February 19, 2008
Farewell to Tom Lantos
Congressman Tom Lantos was a
stalwart friend to animals across the globe, including to animals in Israel.
"As a Holocaust survivor, I know that suffering is suffering, whether human
or animal," he said.
An Advisory Board member of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI) for over two decades, along with his wife, Annette, he could always be counted on, whether the issue was urging government officials to care about an issue, pressing a Mayor to provide land for an animal shelter, or appearing in a video on behalf of the organization. "Draft the letter and Tom will sign it," was the generous response to appeals for assistance.
When CHAI sought to send the first animal ambulance to a shelter in Israel, the Finance Ministry demanded taxes and customs duties equaling the price of the vehicle, though identical vehicles donated to public hospitals entered the country duty and tax free. When appeals to officials and demonstrations went unheard, Tom Lantos sent a letter to every member of Israel's Knesset (Parliament), and at last, the life-saving ambulance was allowed in duty and tax free.
Although one city's town planner set aside land for an animal shelter, its Mayor would not allow the land to be used for that purpose. In response to CHAI's request for help, while on a business trip to Israel with Tom, Annette Lantos took the time to call the Mayor and praise the shelter's work, letting him know how much such a facility was needed. That afternoon, a delegation from the Mayor's office appeared on the shelter's doorstep to let them know they could start building.
When CHAI sought to sponsor a conference on the link between violence toward people and toward animals and the importance of humane education in reducing violence, Tom Lantos contacted the Minister of Education on our behalf. The Ministry agreed to co-sponsor the conference with us and sent out a letter and a poster about the event to school principals, encouraging them to send educators to it, and offered credit to teachers who attended (which translated into a salary increase for them). The very well-attended event received much media coverage and resulted in the Knesset Education Committee deciding that humane education must be introduced into the school system.
And so much more. The world has lost a tremendous friend to humans and animals alike. Tom Lantos' kindness and that of his wife, Annette, will never be forgotten.
Hakol Chai, CHAI's Israeli sister charity, today praised the decision of the Chief
Rabbis to phase out the cruel practice of shackling and hoisting in Israeli
and South American slaughterhouses. The decision came after the release of
an undercover video showing how animals suffer in slaughterhouses using this
practice and an appeal to the Rabbis by Jerusalem Rabbi Adam J. Frank on
behalf of Hakol Chai.
"The Israeli Rabbinate has shown awareness and a sense of duty toward the concerns of its constituent population and deserves praise for this sensitivity," he continued. "Judaism contains a self-correcting mechanism by which each generation has the responsibility to evaluate the implementation of Jewish law and its concomitant ethical teachings; a change in practice in the kosher slaughter industry is a fine example of the power of caring people to influence Jewish practice."
Hakol Chai/CHAI's contribution to this campaign was credited in the Israeli media, Rabbi Frank was interviewed on an Israeli radio station on behalf of Hakol Chai, and his op ed appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
Hakol Chai and CHAI now urge both the Orthodox Union and the Israeli Rabbinate to establish a committee to set a fixed timeframe and ensure the supervision of the expedient phase-out of shackling and hoisting in the kosher slaughter industry.
Hakol Chai/CHAI remind the public that becoming vegetarian is the best way to prevent animal suffering (tsa'ar ba'alei hayim), preserve human health, and reverse global warming. According to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meat, not cars, is the number one cause of global warming. It is also a major source of land and water degradation. The UN's Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of hundreds of climate change scientists worldwide, noted the importance of lifestyle changes in meeting the challenge of global warming.
"Please eat less meat," said IPCC representative, economist Rajendra Pachauri, adding that a meat-based diet also has negative consequences for human health.
For more information about shackling and hoisting and vegetarianism, see
www.chai-online.org/rabbi_frank.htm and www.chai-online.org/factoryfarming.htm.
Yours for a more compassionate world,
CHAI - Concern for Helping Animals in Israel