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Bill Banning Pig-Breeding Stirs Debate in Knesset; Passage Assured

February 28, 1962
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A proposal to ban pig-breeding in Israel was debated heatedly last night and today on a first reading in Israel’s Parliament. Passage is assured.

The bill was submitted by six Knesset deputies as private members. It provides a fine of 1,000 pounds ($333) both for pig breeders and owners of the premises used for that purpose. The measure also would empower confiscation of pigs. It would exempt Nazareth and other Christian Arab localities in the Galilee.

The sponsors, who included two members of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s dominant Mapai party, three Religious Bloc deputies and a Herut deputy, advanced the traditional arguments against pigs. They stressed that the national aspect was not less than the religious one. Arguing that much of Jewish martyrdom through the centuries was associated with its rejection.

Criticism of the proposal ranged from arguments against “religious coercion” to statistics citing a progressive increase of pigs throughout the world. The statistics were submitted by Yaacov Riftin of the leftist Mapam, who asserted that pig meat was the cheapest source of nutrition; that in the United States, it provided 42 percent of meat consumption; and that he saw no reason to yield to “psychological terror.”

Other deputies assailed Mapai for supporting the measure — which assured its passage — charging that this was a coalition deal with the religious parties, rather than representing a sincere expression of Mapai views.


An Arab deputy, Ahmad Draher, of Nazareth, expressed regret that the measure would not apply to his city. Urging that Nazareth be included, he said pigsties would offend the city’s large Moslem population and that it would also detract from religious sanctions.

S.Z. Abramov, a Liberal party deputy, announced that the party had given its deputies freedom to vote as they choose on the measure. For himself, he said, he would not support the measure. He said he felt that elimination of pork from Israel could best be obtained by persuasion, not legislation.

Nahum Mir of leftist Achdut Avodah argued that Israel was not a theocracy and that the bill therefore would be tantamount to compulsion. He also argued-that two-thirds of the budget of a village south of Tel Aviv, Azur, was derived from pig-breeding. He said he had received a petition to this effect from the villagers.

The bill will become law after three readings. The first is the most important, the other two being merely formal.

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