Practical Issues > Actions to Take > Religion for ARAs
Eisenbud Discussion with Richard Schwartz

Dominion vs Ahimsa

Judeo-Christian Compassion

I was surprised when I received the following message from Professor Richard Schwartz:

"Ruth, if you misquote me or quote me out of context again, I will sue you for defamation of character!

Please let me know your source for my quote in the article below.


Intimidation of those who differ with one's method of animal activism is inappropriate and ill-suited to those who profess compassion.

I routinely write about the adverse effects of the dominion model of animal compassion as it compares to the ahimsa model of unconditional compassion for all. I found a definition of dominion in the public writings of Prof. Richard Schwartz which clearly states that the harm and slaughter of animals is allowed to benefit man by the judeo,christian tradition. I use this definition to elucidate the position of dominion.

In the article on the tragic events at Sea World, the definition of dominion was stated and compared to a Jain sutra to demonstrate that when the use of animals is religiously endorsed, the outcome is harmful both to animals and humans.

I understand that Prof. Richard Schwartz is working to end animal suffering. However I question whether speaking around the model of dominion, rather than explicitly stating that it is completely inappropriate and cruel to use animals for human benefit, will ever lead to meaningful compassion. As long the concept of dominion is given credibility and efforts are made to justify it as compassionate, there will be little progress towards bettering animal lives.

In the following exchange Professor Schwartz does not rebut the premise that a message of unconditional compassion for animals has resulted in significant gains for animals, rather he chooses to criticize my right to state this premise, as he has deemed it divisive to do so. It is not divisive to express a view on animal compassion that has been shown to have stellar results. It is not divisive to criticize a view which despite some kind words, fundamentally does devalue animal lives by allowing for their harm and slaughter to benefit man.

Ruth Eisenbud

Professor Schwartz,

And I suggest you consider your strategy, as you ignore the harm done by dominion for the thousands of years since its inception and seem incapable of acknowleging that the model of ahimsa practised by the Jains has resulted in meaningful and broadbased improvements for animals.

Though you claim not to use the dominion model to achieve animal compassion, it is perplexing as to why feel compelled to whitewash the intention, which does allow for the harm and slaughter of animal, rather than just state clearly that the harming and slaughter of animals should not be permitted under any circumstances.

Your claim that it is me who is causing dissention is spurious and not a worthy argument, for I am entitled to present the best possible model for helping animals.

Perhaps, your agressive and intimidating tone in the previous message is what merits an apology.

Ruth Eisenbud

On Feb 26, 2010, at 2:02 PM, Ruth Eisenbud wrote:


Do you or do you not use the model of dominion as a basis of attaining compassion for animals?

I do not.

If someone brings up "dominion," i point out that it is considered responsible stewardship, like the dominion I give to my gardener.

I also point out that a few verses later, God's first strictly vegan diet is given, and in the next chapter, humans are told to be guardians of the Earth.

I also point out that, if properly interpreted, dominion can be used as a spur to activism for animals, and certainly not or mistreating them.

You used a statement that you attribute to me that is way out of context if I ever wrote it, which I doubt, to imply that I support something that I do not. I think that deserves an apology to me and to the readers that you have misled by giving them a false impression, that my quote was related to the killer whale situation..

How would you like it if someone used an old quotation of yours to imply a position that you do not hold?

Instead of seeking allies, you are turning people off and thereby doing a disservice to the animals that you are tryng to help.

I suggest you reconsider your strategies.

Best wishes,


When someone threatens law suits, it is highly unlikely that they will get the information they are seeking from those they are attempting to intimidate.

If you are willing to discuss this in a civil manner without intimidation, then perhaps the discussion can continue.


You are ignoring 99 plus % of my words to make your point, which is very misleading.

You are being intellectually dishonest.

Please indicate exactly where the words you are quoting appear in my writing.



On Feb 26, 2010, at 8:36 AM, Ruth Eisenbud wrote:

Professor Schwartz

As the founder of an organization representing the jewish view on animals, you are a public figure and as such I would hope that you would have the integrity to stand by your words.



It is great that you care so much about animals, but please consider that human beings are animals and you should also care about them.

Misquoting and taking words out of context does bot seem like an ethical thing to do. What does Jainism say about that.

I oppose all animal slaughter, animal experimentation, wearing of fur, and the use of animals in entertainment, and I argue that this is very consistent with Judaism in many articles and books. Why not spread that message.

You may respond to this message.


On Feb 26, 2010, at 7:53 AM, Ruth Eisenbud wrote:

Professor Schwartz,

You requested that I not write to you until I change my view about the harmful effects of western religion on animals. I still believe that the Jain model of non-violence to all beings is the only paradigm that will bring relief to the long suffering animals. So I am not sure whether I should reply to your message.


Subject: Hi Ruth/from Richard Scwartz
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2010 07:35:10 -0500

Ruth, if you misquote me or quote me out of context again, I will sue you for defamation of character!

Please let me know your source for my quote in the article below.


Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," "Judaism and Global Survival," and "Mathematics and Global Survival," and over 130 articles at
President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) ( and
Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians
Director Veg Climate Alliance
Phone: 718-761-5876

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