מקבץ פוסטים שפורסמו במקור ב-Animal Rights in Israel (דף פייסבוק, כיום For Anonymous Animals, בבעלות עמותת אנונימוס).
What about foie gras in Israel? A far-reaching bill is pending
Israel used to be the world's fourth-largest "producer" of foie gras, the diseased liver of force-fed geese and ducks . Following an Anonymous for Animal Rights campaign, the practice has been deemed illegal, and in 2006 the entire industry was shut down by the government.
Imported foie gras, however, is still sold legally in Israel. Israeli MKs (members of the Parliament) agree that it is absurd to support the cruel practice in Hungary (Israel's source of foie gras) while banning it at home. On April this year, a rare cross-party group of 20 MKs introduced a bill to ban imports and sales of fatty liver in Israel. The bill soon enjoyed a governmental committee support.
The promising momentum is currently blocked by Yisrael Beiteinu party, who employed a parliamentary maneuver in order to delay and practically stop the process of legislation. Anonymous for Animal Rights is working to bypass this obstacle and realize the bill's wide support.
Animal protection politics in the upcoming municipal elections
On 22 October, municipal elections will be held across Israel. Animal protection is included in the platform of several parties in at least six of the largest municipalities. Obviously, pre-election promises are rarely fulfilled, yet a growing number of municipal politicians realize that animal protection promises have electoral value.
Unsurprisingly, the most common promises focus on dogs and cats. A typical dog-promise is to construct more parks for dogs to roam free, and a typical cat-promise is to fund spaying and neutering. Several parties promise to promote official feeding points for cats, and some also promise to support animal protection organizations, to establish new shelters for rescued dogs/cats, and to offer veterinary care for animals with no "owners".
Surprisingly, preventing animal abuse through education is rarely mentioned. So is the commitment to establish an Animal Welfare Act enforcement unit. A few parties promise to stop the use of equines as beasts of burden on the streets, to enforce animal welfare regulations in stores that sell animals, and to defend urban animal habitats.
Some parties refer to local problems. In Haifa, where wild boars habitually enter neighborhoods and some are "culled" in response, one party presents a loose plan to protect the boars; and in Beer Sheva, where there are probably more homeless dogs on the streets than in other cities, one party presents a detailed plan to address this problem.
Tel-Aviv is probably the only municipality where parties officially relate to food habits as an animal protection issue: two Tel-Aviv parties promise to promote Meatless Mondays in the city.
Israeli taxpayer? You subsidize the dairy industry!
Away from public attention, the Israeli government – much like other governments – pours public funds into the animal industries. A recent example is a draft released several days ago by the Ministry of Agriculture on the subject of investments in the dairy industry. This is a part of a government initiative to enhance the efficiency of the industry during the years 2013-2016. The government decided on this project back in 2012, in an attempt to reduce the price of dairy products by urging small dairy farms to either expand or close down.
On 29 August 2013, it was decided to budget 10 million shekels (2.8 million US dollars) for this project. A dairy farmer may get from the state 45% of the investment in developing his farm. The criterion for this great support is expanding milk quota by 20% since the beginning of this year. Cow welfare, however, is ignored in all the documents concerning the public funds.
Note the deception of seemingly reducing the price of milk products: first, all taxpayers – vegans and other non-dairy consumers included – fund private dairy businesses, and then, after much money has already been spent, dairy consumers will pay less for the end products.
Of course, the animal industries are not the only industries subsidized by taxpayers' money. But it is most disturbing that the state subsidizes a business that a considerable part of the population insists on not funding in any way. The government could have payed at least some lip-service to the Animal Welfare Act by posing some animal welfare demands on candidates for state funding. But the Ministry of Agriculture ignores the Act, as it always does.
Neglect and enforcement at kibbutz Eilot zoo
There are many small, improvised zoos all over Israel. Often, these are no more than an aggregation of animals that were somehow taken from arbitrary sources and caged in small and dull facilities, under the loose supervision of ignorant staff. Animal welfare regulations prohibit some common zoo practices, yet these regulations are seldom enforced. According to Adi Hashmonai (Walla! News) a rare enforcement action was taken a few days ago by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The raid at kibbutz Eilot zoo exposed severe neglect. The sheep's hooves were so long that the animals could hardly stand straight (in natural conditions, hooves wear off and remain short, while in barren enclosures they must be trimmed periodically).
Turtles at the zoo suffer of armor distortions due to prolonged malnutrition. The inspectors also found a dehydrated iguana, dead parrot and chicken, as well as horses and donkeys suffering of severe malnutrition. The entire place was filthy, and the duck pond was dry. The ducks were extremely enthusiastic for both swimming water and food when offered to them by the inspectors.
The inspectors provided an emergency treatment, and Eilat police launched an investigation against the kibbutz and the person in charge of the zoo. Nevertheless, the animals remain there.
It is encouraging that the Israeli authorities are doing some animal welfare enforcement actions on the country's southern tip, yet, unfortunately, they overlook much bigger facilities in that very area. Tens of thousands of Australian sheep and cattle are transported through the Port of Eilat every year, and many of them are quarantined at the station near kibbutz Eilot. The authorities do not address the systematic maltreatment and neglect there. The quarantine attracts attention only when poor planning results in mass death, such as the disaster after the quarantine was flooded a year ago.
Neglect at Israel's municipal pounds
A Channel 2 report exposes some of the neglect at most of Israel's 33 municipal dog pounds. Since 2009, conditions and treatment at the pounds are supposedly regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, yet the Ministry fails to enforce the regulations, while many municipalities fail to allocate basic resources to their pounds.
In Tiberias, for example, the pound is located in the middle of the municipal garbage dump, and a worker says that "everything you touch falls apart, the concrete itself is already in a bad shape."
In Hadera, the pound is falling apart. The local worker explains that "sometimes the municipality did not pay the food supplier the money we owe him, and he refuses to supply. The veterinarian here spent thousands of shekels on dogs, and nobody repaied him." When it comes to items such as flea control products, he asserts: "these are fantasies."
Even releasing dogs from municipal pounds is all too difficult. A woman from Kadima who tried to adopt an abandoned dog from the local pound was told that she must pay for the time the dog spent at the pound, a fine for abandoning the dog (which is, of course, someone else's offense) in addition to vaccination, sterilization and a microchip implant. That is 1,500 shekels (426 US$).
The Ministry of Agriculture boasts spending several million shekels on municipal pounds. Apparently, this is far from enough.
The Channel 2 report (in Hebrew)
The ban on forced molting through starvation has been postponed by 3 years
Earlier today, the Socio-Economic Cabinet (a ministers' committee on economic and social affairs) surrendered to pressure from the Ministry of Agriculture and decided to postpone the ban on starving hens in the egg industry (also known as forced molting) .
Forced molting is usually practiced by withdrawal of the hens' feed for 10-14 days. The starved hens molt, they stop laying for several weeks, and their reproductive tracts regress and rejuvenate. The surviving hens lay more after that period.
On 31 July 2012, the Socio-Economic Cabinet decided that a ban on forced molting would come into force by the beginning of 2013. This decision was among the highlights of Anonymous for Animal Rights' efforts to restrain the Ministry of Agriculture's plans for the future of the Israeli egg industry. A 2007 Governmental plan to rebuild most of the battery cages all over Israel was halted by the Supreme Court, following an appeal by Anonymous and partners. The Supreme Court ordered the State to legislate hen welfare regulations. The Ministry submitted drafts of regulations considerably inferior to European standards, and the Knesset rejected these drafts over and over again (7 times!). Eventually, under Court's order, the issue was brought to the Socio-Economic Cabinet, who decided to ban forced molting, among other reforms. This was the only pro-farmed animal decision the previous Government has made.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Agriculture ignored the decision. It objected the ban despite its own calculation that implementing the ban will cost mere 2 agorot per egg (less than 1 cent), and despite the fact that forced molting is illegal in the EU, and it is against the US United Egg Producers' policy. Instead of urging the Ministry to work as planned, the Socio-Economic Cabinet surrenders to the industry's pressure.
Anonymous for Animal Rights will keep on fighting against farmed animal abuse, yet the power to make a change is mostly in the hands of consumers.
On the way to ban hunting for "sports"
On the first day of 2014, the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) held a meeting on a bill to amend the Wildlife Protection Law. The meeting was a part of the preparations to the final votes on the bill, and it was attended by lobby groups of hunters and vivisectors. The Committee did not surrender to the lobbyists' attempt to kill the bill.
The major amendment proposed in this rather complex bill is banning recreational hunting in Israel. Currently the Wildlife Protection Law authorizes the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to define many species as "game" and issue hunting permits for a 5-months hunting season. Over 2,000 hunters get such permits. The bill cancels the entire "game" status, as well as the permit system. This marks a considerable advancement, especially for several "game" species.
Nevertheless, the bill does not protect all wildlife. Killing would still be allowed, under specific permits, for the following purposes: preventing or eradicating ecological hazards; preserving biodiversity; preventing agricultural damages; preventing threats to people or animals; preventing infectious diseases in humans or animals; and scientific purposes. In practice, such excuses for killing wildlife are already used by hired killers. The hunting lobby claims that the bill will take an activity which is currently a hobby and hand it down to killers for money. This claim is mostly misleading (animals that may be killed lawfully belong to species that hardly interest recreational hunters) but the Ministry for Environmental Protection and the Committee are currently checking whether the bill could serve economic interests of privileged hunters.
A recent poll ordered by the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel reveals that 72% of the Israelis believe that recreational hunting should be banned, and 70% believe that penalties for harming wildlife should be stricter.