Law to Ban Pork Moves in Knesset

A bill banning the raising, marketing and sale of pork in Israel passed its first reading in the Knesset today by a 57-23 vote and was referred to the Law and Constitution Committee.

The measure, pushed hard by the religious parties, was supported by many Knesset members who felt uncomfortable with it but had to discharge coalition obligations. Other MKs absented themselves during the vote.

The preliminary reading of the law sparked an angry debate between religious and non-religious MKs. Avraham Shapiro of the Aguda Israel delivered an emotional speech to the effect that Jews through the ages martyred themselves rather than violate the kashrut laws. Mapam MK Haika Grossman retorted sharply when Shapiro said Jews went to the gas chambers “rather than defy the name of the lord by eating pork.”

Grossman, a Holocaust survivor, said “the six million were killed because they were Jews, plain and simple.” Shulamit Aloni of the Citizens Rights Movement (CRM) charged that the law infringed upon individual rights and, as Police Minister Haim Barlev has admitted, could not be enforced. She said it would lead to rabbi vigilantes raiding non-kosher restaurants and meat markets in a futile attempt to distinguish between veal and pork (both meats are light-colored) and succeed only in further aggravating tensions between the religious and secular elements of the population.

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