While I'm willing to bet that Darwin
was right, and I know for a fact that some of my friends from school evolved from apes, I was very pleased to hear of the court's decision to allow the Mazor Farm to export primates to labs abroad.
This decision may be a sad development for monkeys, but marks a huge step for Israeli society, which over the past few years has abandoned the Jewish stance on animals and adopted the liberal religious approach, which views animals as creatures with souls and rights equal to humans.
Before anything else, it is important to mention God's decree, as written in Genesis towards the end of the tale on the creation of man: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
I suppose most of you are in favor of the "Be fruitful and increase in number" part. As for the second part of the verse – God commands the humans to govern the world. This means, man is permitted to use animals for work purposes, their wool, skin, fur, milk and fat – and even cook and eat them.
By the same token, Judaism not only forbids hurting animals, in accordance with the animal welfare law, it also forbids the use of animals for work purposes on Shabbat – a social principle that has yet to be internalized by the Labor and Meretz parties.
It seems that many animal welfare activists have lost their way. They are of course justified in their demand to ban the raising of cattle and poultry in tiny areas. They were right to demand a ban on the cruel force-feeding of geese, and people who harm animals for amusement or out of sheer boredom should certainly be punished severely. Still, animal welfare activists are wrong when it comes to vivisection.
Clearly, computers should be used to develop new drugs, but there is no other choice but to conduct clinical tests on animals in hospitals. The Jewish approach that permits vivisection and the use of animals for work purposes is derived from the viewpoint that completely rules out the possibility that animals have souls.
Of course, they have nervous systems, and it's safe to assume some of them have some measure of intelligence. People or companies that conduct experiments on animals without painkillers should be prosecuted, but I prefer a lot of dead monkeys to the approach that led British physician Edward Jenner to test his smallpox vaccine on his son, who apparently died as a result.
This is true not only for life-saving medication, but for cosmetics products as well. I would certainly prefer that cosmetics firms use animals to examine whether a certain shampoo irritates the eyes rather than test the product on my child – though their reaction to the test would be quite similar.
Those who oppose vivisection must understand that the alternative is to test drugs on humans. I suppose you understand that scientifically-speaking, most of the people who would be willing to be put in such labs would, at some point, need pills prescribed by "Big Brother"
Yitzhak Tesler is an editor at Yedioth Internet