Saturday, July 11

The Annual Israeli Exodus

The oppressive summer in Israel is here. The cruel sun shielded by the humidity clouds seems to signal those who have the means to leave the country for cooler horizons beyond Israel's borders.

School holidays have begun and with it the boredom of the school children. Those children who have nothing to do, turn to vandalism - damaging public facilities, drinking alcoholic beverages, and even resorting to violence.

The more fortunate go on family holidays overseas on package deals or family visits. The annual temporary exodus has begun in earnest.

The results of this annual exodus are plain for all to see. It is the annual nightmare for family pets. In many cases, the purchase of a pet is a form of status symbol until the novelty wears off. Those who leave the cities or large towns in order to purchase homes in community settlements do so in their desire to improve their quality of life. A garden, dog, cat or both comes with the "improved quality of life". This is the dream of many married couples with young children.

At the time of purchasing a pet, no thought is given for the moment the family decides to go on vacation. In many cases the care of the pet becomes the responsibility of young children who are the ones that pressure the parents into purchasing a pet. It does not take long for the family to tire of the pet and the responsibility for its care. When this happens the scenario is horrifying. The dog remains chained in the garden without food or water. In the summer heat of Israel, it does not take long for the dog to dehydrate. I have witnessed this in the settlement where I live and have brought it to the attention of the owners who do not seem to care. The above link applies no less to what happens to pets in Israel than anywhere else even though it is not an Israeli link.

In some cases, if the pet is a bitch and gives birth to puppies, then the scenario becomes tragic and macabre. If homes are not found for puppies soon the puppies are abandoned. A common practice is the placing of the puppies in a carton in the middle of the main road in the hope that a car would ride over them!

Another tactic of abandonment is the release of pets onto a kibbutz and leaving it to the kibbutz members to find a solution. Thus the holiday makers can enjoy their sojourn overseas without a worry. Sometimes dogs and cats are abandoned in wide open spaces far from their owner's homes to ensure that they never return.

The amazing cruelty that is committed towards household pets by abandoning them in the desperation to spend a holiday overseas is horrifying and tragic. This practice is more widespread than one would like to believe. One can judge a society by the way it treats its animals.

There are facilities in Israel for the care of pets while the owners are overseas. Unfortunately many people feel that the expense involved is not justifiable. However going overseas and arranging boarding kennels for their pets seems to be beyond their budget. This does not include the amount of money spent going on holiday of course.

People of the Middle East do not have a great reputation for kindness to animals. Israel is also part of the wider Middle East family with similar characteristics when it comes to treating its animal population. Fortunately, in Israel various non-profitable societies are staffed by dedicated people (many of them are volunteers) who care for strays and abandoned pets. They operate on shoe string budgets which are inadequate for the incredible task that they have in hand. Another organization is Chai –on-line where one can report mistreatment and abuse of animals

The Israeli government does not subsidize societies devoted to prevent cruelty to animals nor is there any education of children in that direction. There are a number of animal shelters in Israel crying out for donations. Their work is so important and not enough emphasis is given on their importance.

A society that is not sufficiently aware of cruelty to its pets cannot be viewed as a humane society. This applies to Palestinians no less than Israelis. The punishment meted out to perpetrators of cruelty is far too lenient and education of the younger generation on avoiding cruelty to animals is inadequate.

Another horrible practice is the ceremony of Kapporot carried out prior to Yom Kippur. While this is not the purpose of my article, it does deserve mention. It is the ritual slaughter of chickens. The religious and secular argument revolving the ritual has been going on for quite some time. In the ritual, a chicken is held at the shoulder blade and swung around a person's head three times, supposedly transferring the sins of the person to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to a needy family.

Many may ask what does this have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to which my blog is dedicated. There is no clear cut answer. Cruelty to animals unfortunately is very common place in Palestinian society as well. I would say that the situation for animals in Palestinian territories is far worse. There are no facilities at all for stray animals there and torture of animals is very common place in Palestinian street. Donkeys are often used as beasts of burden in Palestine. Many are so ill-treated and whipped until they die. The load on the donkey cart is heavy and the poor donkey is constantly whipped in the searing heat until they collapse! The scenario is horrifying. Nevertheless this does not let Israelis off the hook when it comes to animal care. Cruelty to animals is inexcusable!


Anonymous said...

Good for you Selwyn. It is beyond my comprehension how people can be so careless, so uncaring, so cruel. I only hope that your words are heeded by at least some people. Bernie

IRIT said...

Cruelty - that is the main issue.
people who are being cruel toward animals are the ones who are cruel toward people and v.v
Cruelty has no limit, has no chosen target, it is not objective - it aims everything and everybody.Once a person is cruel - he/she is cruel toward any one.

re- the article,
I believe that people who leave their pets on their own, untended,what ever the weather is, ARE cruel and irresponsible people.

I guess there is a law which would take care of this subject, am I wrong?