No Zeal for Homegrown Veal: Israel Embraces BDS

Juneau Alaska dairy cow from back in the day. Alaska State Museum Digital Archives.

The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.” (Samuel Butler 1835-1902)

In the third week of October 120,000 fatted calves corralled Israel’s opinion makers in a media livestock fair, where they took blue ribbons for the entitlement and ‘do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do’ categories. At the same time, the same calves exposed the degenerate state of Zionist agriculture that goes back decades before Israel was founded, specifically; over a hundred-years-long inability to grow enough of their own grains for feed, plus water scarcity. They even spoke to an occupier’s dependence on maintaining a captive population to buy its products. This week was a giant cow pie for Zionism.

The Jewish state had expected to pawn off these eloquent bovines to the Palestinians: Israel’s done that for decades by the expedient of denying Palestinians choice of where they can buy meat, and by denying them the ability to use their own resources, on their own lands, to raise their own cattle. But this year Palestinians have a new hand at the helm in the person of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. He’s an economist and apparently a man with some backbone. He says it’s time Palestinians should source their cattle elsewhere.

Israeli farmers didn’t take the news well. They immediately drove their trucks past Netanyahu’s house with anti-BDS signs in Hebrew and demands the government ‘do something’. In Israel-speak, this means they’re demanding the regime force Palestinians to buy Israeli cattle that the Palestinians don’t want. Eager to oblige, Israel’s new Military Governor of the occupied territories, Major General Kamil Abu Rokon, stated, “Israel will not allow boycotts of any kind against Israeli products.” Not allow? How breathtakingly imperious. When he says, “Israel will not allow…” he’s talking to millions of people as if he owns them. Look, these aren’t his slaves. They’re not even Israelis. Still more breathtaking in those eleven words is the hypocrisy of a state that doesn’t buy meat grown by its own farmers, and here they go attacking others for making the same choice.

Israel Boycotts Israeli cattle farmers
You might ask yourself, as I did, ‘Why is a Zionist General mandating cattle sales anyway, when Israeli farmers could go sell their calves to Israelis?’ Simple: Sami Peretz, writing in Haaretz tells us “…cattlemen are being forced to hold on to herds because they have no one to sell them to in Israel.”
Let’s read that again,
“…cattlemen are being forced to hold on to herds because they have no one to sell them to in Israel.”

According to Peretz, two companies— Dabah Salah & Sons and Tnuva—have a ‘duopoly’ with which they control Israel’s meat industry. He says, These two companies, “…rely entirely on foreign beef .” (emphasis mine). What this means is, meat farmers in Israel are pushed out of what should be their primary market—by Israelis. Can you imagine America (or England, Brazil, Mongolia,…) having a meat industry controlled by two companies that rely entirely on foreign meat? Me neither.

Okay cowpokes: What do Israelis call it when people won’t buy products produced in Israel? Well boy-howdy, what we got here is a boycott. Quick! someone call Gilad Erdan. His Strategic Affairs Ministry has burned up hundreds of millions spying on and smearing Americans and Europeans who support the boycott. His tactics have created an international stampede over to the Palestinian side. So, tomorrow maybe he and his employees could take it easy and just sit at their desks spying on each other, calling themselves anti-Semites, and eating baloney sandwiches that rely entirely on foreign meat.

“But wait.” you may say, “Why don’t Israeli farmers find a market elsewhere?” This is where Israel’s failing agriculture comes in. To get a sense of it, first we have to look at what cows are about.

What is a calf?
To a lot of us non-farmers a calf is that cute, leggy little creature nursing from its mother out in a pasture. Even cattle ranchers have different opinions as to when a calf is no longer a calf but a rule of thumb is that a calf is a calf until it has had a calf of its own-about two years. A calf may be slaughtered for veal at a few months old or a ‘vealer’ calf can be anything under 330 kg. (730 pounds). Depends on who you ask. In the several excellent articles on Israel’s present cowfantada, I didn’t see an age or average weight of the 120,000 calves in question.

We can infer the weight range from 269life, a vegan movement that came out of Israel in 2013. At that time Calf 269 was being fattened in a calf-packed shed outside Tel Aviv. He was a year old and, along with his age cohort, was due to be slaughtered a month later for meat. Animal rights activists made off with Calf 269 shortly before he got the axe and, first in Israel then in other countries, hard-core vegans began getting 269 tattooed on themselves in recognition of the calves’ tormented existence. Some even had themselves branded with a white-hot iron (talk about commitment). Pictures of 269 and its mates show that year-old calves are big animals. American cattle ranchers figure that at nine months calves weigh around 600 pounds with males being slightly heavier than females. Yearlings can weigh over 900 pounds.

What does a calf need most?
World average of the total water footprint to grow a pound of red meat is about 15,000 pounds of water. That includes all aspects of water intake; like water it takes to grow feed, etc.*  Here’s a place Jewish state agricultural inadequacy bares its backside. While Israeli media focuses on feed costs to farmers (and it is expensive because Israel has always had to import grains and cereals), water is the nutrient calves need most. Like cows, calves need four times as much clean water as dry food. If they don’t get enough water they don’t eat as much, don’t put on as much weight, don’t sell for as much. Also, if the water is dirty, calves eat less with the same result. This is an area where Israel’s practice of using dirty water for agriculture isn’t viable. It has to be clean.

Another cattle rule of thumb is that in cool weather they drink about a gallon of water per day, per hundred pounds of cow. They drink twice that in very hot weather. Israel is a hot place. Let’s split the difference and say calves there need 1.5 gallons of water per hundred pounds of animal.

Even if the calves were small and a month after weaning they’d be soaking up about 18 pounds (2.25 gallons) of water per day. 2.25g x 120,000 calves = 270,000g of water per day. That’s 1,022 metric tonnes (MT) per day, or 8,370,000 gallons per month (31,684 MT/month). Except, water needs would be much higher because yet another cattle rule of thumb is that calves are putting on about 2.45 pounds of weight per day (weight gain varies with feed type/amount which are adjusted to achieve some target weight a rancher wants to meet at delivering the animal for slaughter) and their water consumption varies accordingly, but is always increasing with growing cattle.

If the calves are in the 600 pound range they’d each be drinking about 9 gallons of water per day.
9 g/day x 120,000 calves = 1,080,000 gallons per day (4,088.24 MT/day)
or 33,480,000 gallons per month (126,735.59 MT/month)

By their continued presence, the veal reveal Israel’s tedious boast that it is a ‘water superpower’ as complete nonsense. Israel can’t maintain herds of cows because it doesn’t have enough water. Never did.

Other reasons people in foreign countries wouldn’t want Israeli cattle
Israel is known for using more than twice as much pesticide per acre as any other country in the OECD. Israel’s streams and ground water have been famously contaminated with toxic chemicals, heavy metals, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. People in the modern market, especially in the West, avoid meat raised in such environments. Plus the meat would probably be more expensive than meat from countries better suited to cattle.

Then and now: The Wanted 18 cows that were a national security threat to Israel.
This isn’t the first time cows have freaked Israel out. Back in 1987 the village of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem decided to reduce dependence on Israeli produce by starting a dairy herd with 18 cows. Being traditional shepherds of goat and sheep they didn’t have experience with cattle. So they sent one of the villagers to America to learn from the best and applied themselves to figuring out the rest at the milking stool.

The Zionist regime, with the strongest military American tax payers can provide; air force-army-navy-submarines- nuclear weapons, deployed Shaltiel Lavie, military commander of Bethlehem-area occupied territories, to Beit Sahour village to address the milk cow crisis. After taking mug shots of all the cows, Lavie told the community to get rid of them within 24 hours because they had been designated a threat to Israel’s national security. The high school teacher asked, as you or I would, how could a few cows be a threat to the most powerful military in the Middle East. Lavie told the people, “You have no right to speak or cast doubt! It’s a military order and you are obligated to obey.”

There you have it from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’

There’s a lovely little documentary about the adventures of this herd, a joint effort by Palestinian and Canadian film makers, called The Wanted 18. The story is told through a charming combination of claymation, animation, interviews with people who were there, and dramatic reenactments. One of the interviews is with Shaltiel Lavie. He admits that the real reason Israel wanted to get rid of the cows was that Israel wanted to keep the Palestinians compliant through dependence on Israel. “We had a strict directive on dealing those who formed the neighborhood committees with all the necessary force, and all legal means at our disposal in order to control them, so as to prevent the possibility of their setting up an administrative apparatus which was ultimately designed to replace our own.”

All this took place during the terrible days of the ‘bone breaking’ intifada where Israeli occupation troops were directed to break Palestinian bones, and they did. Children’s bones, women’s bones, men’s bones. So, when Lavie says “all legal means” he’s talking about legal under Zionism, not legal under international laws or moral standards.

Anyway, instead if killing them, the villagers hid the cows from the occupiers, moving them from place to place and back again, as hundreds of Israeli soldiers—and a couple helicopters—combed the village and surrounding countryside. The animals became symbols of resistance as machine gun wielding Israelis in combat gear, waved photos of the cows at villagers and asked if they had seen them.

The film was shown all over the world. Won awards. Predictably, Israel designated The Wanted 18’s Palestinian Director, Amer Shomali, a threat to Israeli security. That was to keep him from going to American screenings of his own work. In 2015 Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev appointed a task force to determine if Israel could cut funding to a film festival that planned to show ‘The Wanted 18’ in Israel.

32 years later Beit Sahour’s first dairy herd is still celebrated while Israel is still chewing the cud of occupation. Endless chewing. Swallowing. Regurgitating hasbara. Chewing again. Endless ruminations on the gnawed stubble of self-fufulling prophesies. Riding that range is Cowboy Kamil Abu Rokon. He’s a tool of Four-flush Nation that buys its meat from foreign countries on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow—or keep its farmers. He’s this generation’s Shatiel Lavie. Thirty-two years from now people will look back at Rokon, shake their heads, and laugh in disbelief just as they do with Lavie. The Major General, the occupation, the imperiousness, the hypocrisy, will have ridden off into the sunset. Maybe Amer Shomali will put them in a film.  Adios, partners. See you in claymation.

10.18.2019 Palestinian meat boycott leaves Israeli farmers in the red. Haaretz. by Sami Peretz.
10.18.2019 The calves’ rebellion Haaretz by Amira Haas.
06.15.2017 How much water should dairy calves drink? Hoard’s Dairyman by A.F. Kertz
07.19.2016 How much water do cows drink per day? University of Nebraska Dr. Rick Rasby, Associate Dean, Professor of Animal Science.
07.2015 Water requirements for beef cattle University of Nebraska Rick J. Rasby, Troy Waltz.
06.18.2015 Why Israel declared 18 dairy cows a national security risk. Global Research by Carol Hill.
12.02.2015 The 18 cows scaring culture minister Miri Regev. Haaretz by Nirit Anderson.
2014 The Wanted 18 Directed by Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan.
03.21.2013 The Israeli calf that started a mass tattoo movement. Haaretz. by Netta Ahituv.

*water footprint of red meat includes total of cow’s water intake: what they drink, water to grow the food cows eat, etc. Estimate comes from water footprint network, here: