Standing outside Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir’s home in Savyon early
Wednesday morning, animal rights activists accused him of “forcefeeding with
lies” and of undermining attempts to pass a prohibition on foie gras
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), in conjunction with the groups
Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let Animals Live, initiated a bill for banning
both the import and trade of foie gras and received approval for their bill from
the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on June 9.
The practice of
producing foie gras – a liver delicacy produced by force-feeding ducks and geese
– was banned in Israel about a decade ago after the High Court of Justice deemed
it abusive, but the import and sale of the product remained legal.
days later, the night before the bill was slated to undergo its first Knesset
reading, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Likud Beytenu) filed an
appeal against the bill’s passage, allegedly on behalf of Shamir.
16, Shamir and Aharonovitch announced that they would be willing to remove their
appeal against the bill, on the condition that the bill only prohibit the trade
– and not the personal import – of the controversial product.
Shamir at the time continually stressed that he supports the principles behind
the original bill, he said he felt that implementing such legislation could
violate international trade agreements and could prompt foie gras-producing
countries like Hungary and France to respond with sanctions against
Retaliatory moves could potentially focus on kosher product bans,
as kashrut practices have lately received negative attention among certain
European animal rights activists, Shamir’s spokesman said.
In response to
Shamir and Aharonovitch’s proposal, Lipman and his team responded that they
would continue to pursue their current plan, until more definitive terms of the
proposal were clarified.
For example, Lipman’s spokesman argued, it is
still unclear whether a prohibition on trade would prevent individuals from
selling foie gras that they personally import or whether the product would be
restricted to home use.
Such specifications could be clarified only
during the legislation process, Shamir’s spokesman had said in
Outside Shamir’s house on Wednesday morning, the protesters
held a mock forcefeeding demonstration, in which they stuffed feeding tubes in
the mouths of two caged activists.
They carried signs with phrases like
“How much evil can we swallow?” and “Shamir, Aharonovitch, enough with the
abuse!” “Shamir is feeding us lies,” the activists from Anonymous for Animal
“He states that he supports the law, but in practice he is
preventing voting on it and trying to empty it of its content.”
is impeding the continuation of the legislation now is actually the initiator of
the bill,” Shamir said in response to the morning’s protest. “I proposed to him
together with my colleague, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, a
solution that enables the promotion of the humane and proper purpose of animal
welfare but without hurting exports and international trade agreements – by
replacing the ban on imports with a ban on trade in the bill, as is done
legislatively in the state of California.
This is an acceptable solution
as well to the economy minister and prevents creating precedents on the subject
of kosher slaughter.”
In response to these comments, Lipman charged that
it is the agriculture minister who filed the appeal and that it is therefore he
who is responsible for delaying the law’s passage.
“The ‘solution’ of the
agriculture minister is a ban on trade, a situation that will undermine the
bill’s content and will not change anything on the bottom line,” Lipman
“According to the suggestion of the agriculture minister foie gras
will still be sold in restaurants – a situation that we are not prepared to
Regarding the kosher slaughter issue, Lipman stressed that a
Jewish state advocating for animal rights from its core will see a kosher
industry that has much more world repute.
While unwilling to settle on
the current terms of Shamir’s proposal, Lipman explained that following in suit
with Californian law could be a potential compromise – allowing imports but
prohibiting all sales.
“Californian law prohibits the sale of any kind,
and it could be the solution,” Lipman said.