Israeli Pig Breeders Squealing over Legislation Promised Agudah

Israeli pig breeders, whose livelihood may be threatened by legislation promised to the Agudat Yisrael party by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, are unhappy with proposals that would give the treif industry a year to phase out pork production.

Private breeders, Israel’s pig lobby and members of the pig-raising Kibbutz Mizra staged a loud protest Wednesday outside the Knesset. In the chamber, sympathetic members of the Knesset Interior Committee demanded that the industry be paid hundreds of millions of shekels in compensation if the anti-pig legislation goes through.

The law banning production and sale of pork in Israel is part of a package of strict legislation that Shamir promised the Agudah in exchange for its joining the coalition, which it did on Nov. 16. He also pledged legislation that would tighten already severe restrictions on abortion.

The shadow of the pig law has non-kosher restaurateurs in Tel Aviv vowing they will go to prison rather than stop serving pork, which some say accounts for more than half their business.

“Better ‘white meat’ on our plates than ‘black’ in our minds,” a chorus of demonstrators chanted as the committee session, the sixth on the contentious issue, proceeded in the legislature.

“White meat” is an Israeli euphemism for pork because of its rather covert nature in Israel. “Black” is the disparaging term used to denote the Orthodox haredim.

The anti-pig law, which will ban the breeding and marketing of pig everywhere except in Arab areas of the country, also enjoys support among non-Orthodox politicians who accept the argument that the pig is a symbol of non-Jewishness and not just a halachically forbidden species.

But there is concern in Labor and Mapam for Kibbutz Mizra and other farms. Mizra has over the years built up a multimillion-dollar pork industry, both for export and domestic consumption, and the kibbutz says it will be destitute if this is closed down by dint of the law.

NEXT STORY