News From Israel: Live Export, Animal Abuse on TV, and Falafel
For years I've been very aware of the live-export trade that ships 6.5 million sheep each year from Australia to the Middle East on weeks-long journeys. Australia is a leading producer of wool, but there's little demand for sheep's meat there, so the animals are sent to the Middle East to be slaughtered in horrendous abattoirs and backyard slaughter facilities for the halal market. The ships are disease-ridden and extremely crowded, the animals onboard have little access to food or water, and mortality rates on the ships are as high as 10 percent. Live export and a mutliation called "mulesing" are the main reasons why compassionate consumers around the world are eschewing wool, particularly wool from Australia.
I'd vaguely heard about the live export of cattle, too, but I never knew about Israel's role in all this, until earlier this month. Australian animal rights activists are calling attention to a live-export ship that sailed from Australia last October 12 and arrived in Eilat on November 3, using it as an example of why live export must come to an end. Allegedly, 248 cattle died during the ship's voyage and another 200 died after unloading. According to The Sydney Morning Herald:
The main causes of death were "shipping fever" pneumonia, heat stress and blood poisoning, a quarantine service report said.
"Shipping fever is an acute form of pneumonia generally induced by stress - especially transport," the report said.
The blood poisoning came from infected leg wounds that were caused by lame animals lying for long periods on the ship's abrasive decks. The on-board vet, accredited by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, described the floors as "sloppy" with urine and faeces.
Animal Abuse on Hamas TV Show
Tomorrow's Pioneers, a children's show on Hamas' Al Aqsa TV network, has come under criticism the world over for promoting hate, violence, and unacceptance toward Israelis. Now it's also being condemned for a recent episode in which a character was shown attacking cats and swinging them around by their tails as well as throwing stones at caged lions. The scene was apparently intended to illustrate what kids shouldn't do to animals, but that message comes after the fact and isn't all that clear. The show has come under fire from Palestinian Media Watch and animal advocates in Israel and around the world.
This is such a touchy subject. I hate to single out Hamas' TV show for animal abuse when obviously there's so much more that it needs to be criticized for. However, the cruelty to animals depicted on the show (which you can watch on YouTube here) should not be ignored.
Falafel Takes Over the World
I subscribe to the school of thought that vegan cupcakes are taking over the world, and now it's being said that vegan ho hos are also taking over the world. There will be no resistance, however, when "Falafel takes over the world," which is the title of a YNet article from Thursday. After falling in love with falafel while in Israel in June, I greatly look forward to this falafel revolution:
From noon on, there is a non-stop line at the entrance to the Maoz falafel stand. The customers do not really know that they are eating the national food of Israel. When they are engrossed in their pita, they do not really care. For four Euros they can enjoy hot falafel balls, tahini, and a variety of fresh salads for free.
Marie, a 28 year-old French woman, works in the office next door and came down to buy two full pitas for herself and a co-worker. “I prefer not to eat meat - and these vegetarian patties are simply amazing,” she said.
Does she know the origin of the food? “I think it is from one of the Arab countries,” she said, and did not associate the name “Maoz” with Israel. “I only know it is cheap and tasty,” Marie summarized and disappeared down one of the alleys.
This is apparently the secret to the success of falafel around the world. The national food of Israel has become a health trend.
From Australia to America, through India, France, Germany, and Spain, Maoz Falafel, which was founded 16 years ago in Amsterdam, is spreading like jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the founders of the franchise, the Milo brothers, have 25 branches and they sell more than 12,000 falafels a day.
“By 2015, I believe that we will have a thousand branches around the world,” said owner Nachman Milo, 59, who is convinced that his forecast is entirely reasonable. “The vegetarian market is huge, and today we have reached the break-through point.” . . .
What is missing from the stands is the Israeli identification of the Maoz chain that has disappeared in recent years. Today the branches around the world do not carry the mythological sign “Falafel like in Israel.” The emphasis is now on values such as vegetarianism, freshness, and a healthy lifestyle.
“All the branches look the same, with the same logo and the word 'vegetarian.' They are all painted green because we are talking about healthy food,” explained Milo. The word “falafel” is also missing from the signs, and today they call the food served at the stand a “Maoz”.
“We want to become like McDonald's. It will be impossible to imitate us because the product will be identified with the name of the franchise,” explained the owners, who see a rosy-green future, the same color as the stands.