Veganwashing Israel's Dirty Laundry? Animal Politics and Nationalism in Palestine-Israel
In popular media and public discourse, Israel has been referred to as 'the first vegan nation' and the 'global centre for veganism' because of the mainstreaming of veganism in the country in the 2010s. The article examines this triumphalist rhetoric and argues that animal welfare and veganism have been enrolled as a device to narrate the Israeli nation within terms of Jewish Israeli sovereignty. The contemporary cultural politics of veganism in Israel circulate and reinforce national myths of exceptionalism tethered to a Zionist exclusionary ideology, including claims to unique victimhood, pioneering achievements and moral rectitude, which further entrench Jewish Israeli belonging and Palestinian unbelonging. Indeed, Israeli institutions have co-opted an image of 'vegan/animal-friendliness' as makers of the nation's modernity and morality. Yet, drawing on fieldwork with Jewish Israeli activists, the paper argues that both the deliberate practices of veganwashing and its well-intentioned critiques overlook the nuances and ambivalences of Israeli animal politics. The paper also highlights that critiques of veganwashing do not go far enough to show how it is negotiated by Palestinian animal advocates. It suggests that focus on veganwashing as the primary debate of settler-colonial injustice and animal politics has paradoxically rendered them inaudible, and calls instead for a politics of listening.