A Knesset bill introduced late last week would forbid most sales of fur in Israel. Animal rights activists praised the legislation.

Unlike a measure Tirosh proposed in 2011, which received heavy opposition particularly from fur hat proprietors in the haredi community, the current measure would allow the sale of fur needed for science or to follow traditional customs or express cultural identity. No fur is produced in Israel.

The bill, drafted by MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) in conjunction with the Israel-based International Anti-Fur Coalition, received the support of eight Knesset members from across the political spectrum – Tirosh, Eitan Cabel (Labor), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Yoel Hasson (Kadima), Dov Henin (Hadash), Miri Regev (Likud), Nino Abesadze (Kadima) and Masud Ganaim (United Arab List).

“Fighting for people’s consciousness is a daily undertaking, and this legislation may yet save millions of animals,” Jane Halevy, executive director and founder of the International Anti-Fur Coalition, said. “It’s time to do this at last and finally end the fur trade in Israel. Such legislation should gain immense respect for Israel and its citizens.”

The text of the bill explains that there is no longer any necessity for fur, as synthetic fabrics heat much more efficiently, and fur is now simply a fashion item and status symbol. A ban on the sale of fur within Israel would provide animals protection according to the Animal Welfare Law, and would be in accordance with the values of human compassion and Judaism, the bill text says.

The fur industry uses millions of animals every year – animals that spend their lives in tiny mesh cages and quickly face death, according to the Anti-Fur Coalition.

“Israel may well become the first country to ban fur sales nationwide,” the coalition said, noting that many cities around the world already ban sales of fur. Such cities include Dublin and Fingal in Ireland and West Hollywood in California.

“The hope is that Israel shall be the first to join, as an entire nation, the growing number of compassionate furfree cities,” the coalition said.

Because the bill would not interfere with international sales to Israel, Halevy told The Jerusalem Post that she felt the opposition to it would be much less than to previous proposals, and she felt it had a good chance of passing in the Knesset.

Also, because a few cities throughout the world have now adopted anti-fur rules, Israel doing so would not be quite so unprecedented, she added.

“Israel has this splendid opportunity to lead [the movement] as a country,” Halevy said.

The organization Anonymous for Animal Rights told the Post that its members hope lawmakers “will be responsive to public sentiment” and approve the bill.

“The Israeli public strongly opposes animal abuse, and fur is perceived clearly – a corpse of a helpless creature who was killed violently,” the group said. “There is no justification for crushing bones in foot traps or skinning conscious animals – accepted and documented methods of the fur industry – certainly not for articles of clothing that are never needed in the Israeli climate.”

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