Open Letter to Four Paws

30 Sep

Dear Four Paws,

I hear you have
taken upon yourselves another admirable and rather complicated project: to save the animals of Gaza zoo. Great, except be careful with your words because they may give readers the wrong idea of who the real problem is in this particular matter.

I am two things, one is an animal lover who is supportive of most animal welfare causes. The other, is a lover and critic of Israel who will not hesitate to dunk Israel’s nose in its own shit in hopes to help it improve. Hence, this blog has seen many an extremely harsh criticism of Israel.

But this time, I can’t help but cringe. Yes, Israel’s last war on/with Gaza was brutal, and yes, I feel like Israel went overboard more than once. Yes, I think Israel is handling Gaza all wrong anyway, and should try a more humane approach. Like, stop adding to their reasons to hate us and flock to Hamas.

This is not Israel’s doing. Israel did not decide to build a tiny cage. Israel did not invade to empty trash bags in there. Israel did not make these animals obese. Israel did not set their cubs up to die from horrific “living” conditions. This is Gaza zoo’s choice to suck.

I found it very concerning to read Four Paws partially explain the situation of the animals at Gaza Zoo as the result of Israeli aggression/bombing without mentioning the inexcusable incompetence of zoo staff, Hamas’ refusal to share their wealth with the zoo, or simply, basic respect towards animals. Let’s see. So yes, the last war has probably scarred the animals and traumatized them deeply. But while it may be accurate that the zoo has been “severely damaged by airstrikes”, this repeated statement in the absence of the condemnation of other causes for the zoo’s plight, presents two problems:

1. We all know that the world will twist this into another reason to hate and attack Israel, because “severely damaged by airstrikes” doesn’t really say anything about the reason for those airstrikes. It just serves as a reminder that Israel bombed Gaza. Who cares about the missiles we had thrown at us first.
2. Israel needn’t bomb Gaza for the zoo to suffer, but the article says nothing about the true plight of those animals to whom it would have been an act of mercy had Israel bombed them all right dead. The enclosures are shocking; people get to litter right through the bars. The enclosures are tiny and filthy and equipped with unsafe items. Staff is utterly incompetent. People will try to blame Israel for this, too, but the “government” of the Gaza Strip, Hamas, is known to use any and all foreign money and financial aid for two goals only: terror (“resistance”, ie. dropping missiles on civilians and putting pre-teen children through terrorist boot camp), and luxury. Yes, you read that right. Gaza has money. It just doesn’t go to its people, or the animals. Hamas leaders enjoy big houses, private gyms and jets, and other luxuries even average Israelis could only dream of if only they knew what these things looked like. You can absolutely not blame Israel for the horrific condition Gaza Zoo has always been in. There are resources, but Khaled Mashaal prefers to spend them on a nice suit for when he steps onto his private jet.

About 4 years ago, I saw an article about the lions in Gaza zoo rotting away, lying morbidly obese in what is barely the size of a dog kennel, between torn-up litter of ill-behaved, disrespectful (by choice, not because of Israel) visitors. Even earlier, a happy Palestinian TV show boasted the mascot, an idiot in a bee suit, abusing lions and house cats at that zoo. The message appears to be to show children what Israel is doing to Palestinians, but not only is the reverse transmitted by a loved mascot abusing animals and enjoying it – and hence teaching the kids it’s okay – but it should also be considered child abuse to use childrens’ television to indoctrinate kids to hate and fear whoever it may be. Whatever the beef between Israel and Palestine may be, you simply do not brainwash kids this way.

Then there was the thing with the two lion cubs named after weapons of mass destruction, declaring them “martyrs” against Israel. Seriously, even cubs are abused as a political… shit… can’t even find the word.
These two cubs died soon after birth. Declaring them martyrs in the struggle against Israel – while they had no idea of or concern with Gaza’s beef with Israel and were forced into the role more passionately than they were cared for when alive – kind of makes it sound like Israel is to blame.
No. We are not. You know those volunteer projects advertized on agency sites like GoEco and other agencies who don’t care for ethics? The ones where any untrained, inexperienced suburb kid can go for prime dollar, and bottle-feed and hand-rear lion cubs so they’ll be nice and tame and easier to shoot by trophy hunters a few years later? Yes, those “sanctuaries” (“breeding farms” more like), run on the free, pardon me, paying labour of foreign (teen) volunteers with no training whatsoever. Yet, their lions tend to grow up just fine, all shiny-furred and toned so that sick minds such as Kendall Jones & Co. can pose next to a real beauty (except the gun shot wound).
In other words, even those untrained easily amused kids who barely know how to change their cat’s litter box, manage to keep alive lion cubs that were ripped from their mothers at birth – quite a feat if you ask me. But the Gaza zoo staff, people paid to keep those animals alive and healthy (oh.. okay, forget about it then), are too stupid to take care of 2 kittens? Really? No, you can not and you will not, blame that on Israel. You can and you will blame that on those staff members and vets choosing incompetence over basic animal nursing skills. Competence is a choice. One that needn’t cost money. One that needn’t rely on Israel not to bomb or occupy them. All you could do, is ask the internet for help: how to rear a lion cub, or any carnivorous baby mammal. Hell, ask those freaking lion farms who manage to raise “orphaned” lions to adulthood using amateurs! Or simply be what zoo staff are normally expected to be – competent upon being hired.
Choice incompetence killed those cubs and martyrdom has no place in the equation. Blaming Israel has no place in the equation.

Now the admirable effort is made to rescue animals from Gaza zoo and take them to Jordan, and provide for other animals on site, meaning, to keep them in Gaza and expose them to more harm. Yes, some of that harm may be an occasional Israeli bombing, but you know what? I’d personally fly the jet that puts those animals out of their misery, because the real harm they’re exposed to, is their daily “lives” made miserable not by Israel, but by Gazans failing to reconcile the well-being of animals not being a priority (sort of understandably), with having non-essential animals in the first place (which is less understandable). Any harm Israel can do by bombing the zoo, is but a small blip on the radar. As I have just elaborated, Gaza zoo animals don’t need Israel’s “help” to live, wither, and die miserably.

Hence I urge you, Four Paws, to
a) edit their articles and posts on the matter into a less Israel-blaming tone, and
b) add some facts about how Gaza zoo has a history of chosing to fail to take basic care of their animals.

What with the size and influence of your organization, you have tremendous responsibility. You have the potential to influence public opinion. I am not asking you to glorify Israel and I am not one of those idiots calling you antisemitic for mentioning Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the zoo. However, whenever your article sought to explain the conditions at Gaza zoo, the choice reason was “Israel’s bombardment”. How do Israeli bombs every couple of years keep Gaza zoo staff from worming their animals or expanding – or at least not littering – their enclosures and taking basic care of them? Come on. Your repeated mentioning of Israeli bombings, are like taking a battered and mangy dog with broken bones, lost eyes, worms and parvo, and 2 broken ribs from blunt force trauma, and omitting the mange and the parvo and the lost eyes and blaming the dog’s entire condition on the one douchebag who kicked the dog to break its ribs.
It may be obvious to you that Gaza zoo has problems way beyond Israel’s bombs, but your article doesn’t make this obvious to the reader who all too often loves to hate Israel for being the Goliath against poor little Palestinian David, AND thoughtlessly ask for any animal abuser’s head to roll before getting their facts straight. You know how it works. Everybody knows how it works. Don’t enable it. Don’t facilitate it. Don’t make this about Israel.

Thank you,
a potential donor (Israeli, because we don’t all bomb zoos).

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2 Responses to “Open Letter to Four Paws”

  1. rukhparmor October 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Wait, they have a zoo? That’s all I can think of.

    • Dr Amir Khalil October 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

      Good Day
      First Thank you to your open letter
      my Name is Dr Amir Khalil the veterinary doctor who lead the rescue Mission in Gaza zoo and transported the Lions Via Israel to Jordan
      Four Paws is non Governmental and non political Organisation . our main Focus is helping animals in Needs . four paws was active in Bahgdad zoo in Iraqu – Tripoli zoo in Libya during and after the milniitary conflict in Iraque and Libya and other countries where animals Need help

      you are right that the zoo in Gaza built without any Standard for keeping animals
      we dont balme any side who is doing what
      we are just try to do our best to offer help where we are able to help and may be this is a Chance to send a positive message that animals can unit People together

      Thank you so much and hope you will assist us in improving the Situation for the rest of the animals at the zoo in Gaza
      Best Regards
      Amir Khalil

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