full story, photos, comments:
More than 1,000 Arab and Jewish protesters march together for veganism. Read
on for an interview with two of the organizers of the largest Arab-Jewish animal
rights march we have yet to witness.
Conscious Vegan | July 28, 2015
Last Friday, more than 1,000 animal rights activists marched together for
veganism in the city of Haifa, Israel, under the title "We Are All Their Voice:
Coming Together for the Animals".
Organized by both Arab and Jewish animal rights activists, the march marked a
meaningful highlight in a continuous collaboration between the two communities
in the north of Israel, where vegan activists have been working together over
the last couple of years.
The march, to which
2,500 people originally RSVP-ed, had three clear stated goals: to raise
public awareness of the suffering of farm animals, to boost vegan activity in
the north of Israel, and to create a large-scale event allowing the two
communities to come together in full and equal collaboration.
Interview with two of the organizers of the Jewish-Arab march
The Vegan Woman had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing two of the event's
organizers -- Sharbel Balloutine, a leading vegan advocate, author, and the
founder of the Arab animal rights organization "The
Vegan Human", and Shlomi Hillel, a prominent vegan animal rights activist
and the former leader of "The
Vegan North". Here is what they had to say about this fruitful Jewish-Arab
collaboration around veganism and animal rights:
Sharbel and Shlomi, first of all congratulations on a successful
event. I'm sure you know that this collaboration inspires others around the
world and gives many of us hope, both for veganism and for future peaceful
Can you perhaps share some information in regards to the Arab-Jewish
collaboration that brought about this successful march last Friday?
Shlomi: "Of course. Vegan activism has been in the works in the north of Israel
for over 10 years now. In its beginning, it was mostly centered around
engagement with the greater public through means such as handouts and
information stands. In 2012, we formed a group called "The Vegan North", and
with social media coming into play, it became easier to effectively organize
events and reach new potential activists. Our activism grew to include
meat-outs, displays, demonstrations, and also social activities.
"In addition to our activities, a large Arab animal rights group, which is known
today as ‘The Vegan Human', started operating in the north of Israel under the
inspirational leadership of Sharbel. From the early stages of their activity, a
close collaboration was formed between the two groups, which included joint
demonstrations in Arab and Jewish towns, and close friendships were formed
between the vegan activists of the two groups; some of them led to the
successful march which took place last Friday, among other blessed
Israel going to be the first vegan nation?
Do you find that the differences in religion, cultures, and politics
cause tensions throughout your activism? If so, how do you deal with such
tensions, and what is the message you are trying to convey?
Sharbel: "We actually experience very little tensions in our joint activities,
and when tensions do rise, we make a point of reminding ourselves how important
it is for us to come together and focus on helping the most exploited beings on
our planet: the animals.
"The march we produced this past Friday was a great example of that: Jews and
Arabs coming together to state that the lives of all men and women are equal and
that each of us is worth the entire world. That each cow is worth the entire
world, that each pig is worth the entire world, just like every other living
being with blood in their veins, with the ability to breathe and the ability to
suffer and to love. We aim to change people's distorted perception that one
sentient being is worth more than another; that just because someone is weaker,
it is OK to exploit them.
"People might be resistant to this message, but we are working together to
ensure that this message will be heard. As long as they are suffering, we will
continue to serve as their voice."
Was the march successful in your eyes?
Shlomi: "The march was an extraordinary, moving and unique event, which I am
very honored and proud to have been part of. It's difficult to assess how much
effect it actually had, but at the same time, you just can't overestimate the
importance of such collaboration, which demonstrates that literally everyone can
come together to promote justice and ethical principles that should be common to
us all. The way I see it, issues of animal rights are direct extensions of human
rights, and by promoting these issues we also promote values of justice,
compassion, and peace. I believe the march reflected these values and will be
marked in our collective memory as a movement for a very long time."
If you were to leave our readers with one message, what would that be?
Sharbel: "Every soul taken by violence, violates all humanity."
Shlomi: "There is no justification for animal exploitation. If you believe that
killing and inflicting unnecessary suffering is wrong, then you, too, should go