As a follow-up to my earlier post about cats in Lebanon, I present the Cat Welfare Society of Israel. They provide the usual cat-welfare services, including spay/neutering for strays, adoption, advocacy programs and a sanctuary for cats.
I did not see any news or information about the current conflict, although they do have some about the withdrawal from Gaza last year. There is a bittersweet story as well as a video about cats left behind in the Gaza settlements.
Although video is in Hebrew, it still pulls at heartstrings.
While the story of cats left behind doesn't change my view that evacuating the settlements in Gaza was the right thing (one wonders why Israelis would live there in the first place), it does leave some questions. Were people ordered not to take their pets with them during the evacuations, or were these simply communal animals left behind? Did the violence and chaos caused by some of the more militant settlers and activists make an orderly rescue of the cats more difficult? Did any of the people who poured into Gaza to protest stop to help? Very naive questions, I admit. This article about CWSI and its founder Rivi Mayer discusses a prevailing view among many in Israel of cats as “pests not pets”, and though changing, this article from CSWI documents more recent animosity to cats. I can't say I've really done a lot of independent research on any of this. Nonetheless, for those who support Israel, whether for nationalist or reglious reasons, or something a little more enlightened, a little soul searching never hurts. Especially now, given the recent tragedies surrounding the current war.
I end this post on a more upbeat note, with a photo of this little resident from CSWI's sanctuary:
Tiger is a cute orange-striped cat looking for a nice home.
What makes his story different from a typical cat-adoption ad on on a blog is that Tiger is in Lebanon. Politically, I am generally supportive of Israel and have relatives in Haifa, but nothing makes one feel for the people on the “other side” in a war quite like stories of animals and children and the people who care for them. (I guess I find it true for stories about artists and musicians, too, but I'll save that for another post). Consider the otherwise happy story of Barbara and Fluffy and the “amazing girl” who adopted them. She could be the model of my own ideal child. One can only hope that neither she nor her cats have suffered during the attacks on Beirut.
I also read about a program at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where students care for the many cats that roam the campus, providing food, shelter, health care and positive human interaction, and discouraging their fellow students from abusing the cats.
The author of the article, Hania Jurdak, expresses an articulate ideal about caring for the animals even as “some human rights are ignored.”
I doubt relatively liberal AUB is much of a Hezbollah stronghold, so would hope it escapes any attacks on the city. I haven't seen a lot of news concerning AUB during the current fighting, aside from evacuations and the university hospital being a primary center for treating the sick and wounded. Those operating animal shelters in Beirut and conducting rescues do find themselves closer to the neighborhoods that have seem much of the bombing, including the southern suburbs.
I enourage cat and animal lovers to check out these and other articles at animals.beirut.com for a sympathetic look at people (and their animal friends) in war outside of the usual political and ideological shouting on both sides. Over the next few days, I will try to post cat-related resources from other sides of the multiple Middle-East conflicts.