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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 5, 2013/ 29 Menachem-Av, 5773

Pity the elephants

By Rich Lowry




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There's a charming myth that the 18th-century poet Alexander Pope said, "The proper study of mankind is man, but when one regards the elephant, one wonders."

One wonders particularly after reading an extraordinary essay by Caitrin Nicol in the journal The New Atlantis. She makes a powerful case for the moral status of elephants, a case that is especially poignant when the creatures are faced with the prospect of utter destruction. Only 500,000 or a little more still roam the Earth, and poachers slaughter tens of thousands a year.

Elephants aren't just gentle giants, but complex and intelligent ones. They are intensely social, with bands of females staying together for life and assisting one another in giving birth and raising their young. They communicate vocally -- including with sounds inaudible to humans -- and seismically through the ground. They weep.

The phrase "an elephant never forgets" is such a cliche that we neglect its foundation in the creature's truly astonishing memory. "This is attested to," Nicol writes, "by outward indicators ranging from the practical -- a matriarch's recollection of a locale, critical to leading her family to food and water -- to the passionate -- grudges that are held against specific people or types of people for decades or even generations, or fierce affection for a long-lost friend."


Nicol notes an essay by the philosopher of biology Hans Jonas discussing three uniquely human qualities, and sets out how elephants arguably share each one.

They make and use tools. Elephants clean their ears with clumps of grass. In Asia, when collared by bells, they can plug the bells with mud to stealthily steal bananas. In one recorded instance, when confronted with an electric fence, elephants followed the current around to the generator, destroyed it and made their escape.

They make images. Elephants will draw and, given the materials, paint. The drawings of an elephant named Siri in the Syracuse, N.Y., zoo were collected into a book in the 1980s, and Willem de Kooning praised them.

They commemorate the dead. When an elephant dies, other elephants bury it and stay with the body, mourning. The conservationist Cynthia Moss writes, "Even the bare, bleached old elephant bones will stop a group if they have not seen them before."

The title of Nicol's essay is "Do Elephants Have Souls?" We don't have to answer that question to realize the special respect owed these fascinating, awe-inspiring, mysterious creatures. Cooping them up in zoos is wrong, and holding them in captivity to force them to perform for our amusement -- in other words, a key part of the Ringling Bros. business model -- is in the same moral category as bear baiting.

All of this is nothing, of course, compared with the savagery of the poachers. In an eloquent jeremiad in The Atlantic, Matthew Scully flays the vast, far-flung industry devoted to ivory that begins with fear and death. He quotes a National Geographic writer describing the scene in Cameroon from the air: "[T]he scattered bodies present a senseless crime scene -- you can see which animals fled, which mothers tried to protect their young, how one terrified herd of 50 went down together."

Poachers will kill one elephant and then kill more when they come to mourn. The will cut out tusks before the creatures have even died. They will kill them with poisoned pumpkins or watermelons. Then, when their bloody work is done, the tusks are fed into the greedy maw of an underworld of criminals and sundry other lowlifes who sate the appetite for ivory in China and other parts of Asia.

Scully argues for devoting greater material and diplomatic resources to disrupting this trade. Nicol ends her essay with a plea for an enhanced sense of fellow-feeling: "Listen with your ears, your eyes, your heart, your mind, your soul for the message from these kin as improbable as life itself, different and yet the same. We are not alone." Although on the current trajectory, we will be soon enough.

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© 2012 King Features Syndicate

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