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Group blasts PETA 'Holocaust' project


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(CNN) -- The Anti-Defamation League has denounced a campaign by an animal rights group that compares slaughtering animals to the murder of 6 million Jews in World War II.

The graphic campaign and exhibit "Holocaust on Your Plate," devised by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, juxtaposes 60-square-foot panels displaying gruesome scenes from Nazi death camps side by side with disturbing photographs from factory farms and slaughterhouses. One shows a starving man in a concentration camp next to a starving cow.

The exhibit opens Friday in San Diego, California, and went up Thursday at the University of California at Los Angeles. It also is posted on a PETA Web site, www.masskilling.com, which calls for support for the campaign from the Jewish community.

The comparisons prompted an angry statement from Abraham Foxman, Anti-Defamation League national director and a Holocaust survivor.

"The effort by PETA to compare the deliberate, systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent," the statement said. "PETA's effort to seek approval for their 'Holocaust on Your Plate' campaign is outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights."

Lisa Lange, PETA's vice president of communications, told CNN's "American Morning With Paula Zahn" on Friday that the idea for the public relations effort came from the late Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer, who, she said, wrote: "In relation to them [animals], all people are Nazis; for them it is an eternal Treblinka" -- a death camp in Poland.

Lange said the campaign is appropriate because "Nazi concentration camps were modeled after slaughterhouses."

The Singer quote, which the group draws upon in its literature as well, was not spoken directly by him but rather comes from his novel "Enemies: A Love Story," when the main character muses on the plight of animals. Singer was a vegetarian who believed strongly in animal rights.

"It's shocking, it's startling, it's very hard to look at," Lange said of the exhibit. "We're attacking the mind-set" that condones the slaughter of animals.

"The very same mind-set that made the Holocaust possible -- that we can do anything we want to those we decide are 'different or inferior' -- is what allows us to commit atrocities against animals every single day," PETA representative Mark Prescott wrote in a statement, which added that members of Prescott's family were murdered by Nazis.

The Anti-Defamation League statement, however, counters that "abusive treatment of animals should be opposed, but cannot and must not be compared to the Holocaust."


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