Israel fur ban dropped

Pressure from Canadian pro-fur lobby and Charedi objections have led to the shelving of a bill to ban fur imports to Israel.

By Jessica Elgot, March 19, 2010
The bill would have exempted the use of fur for making shtreimels worn by the strictly Orthodox.

The bill would have exempted the use of fur for making shtreimels worn by the strictly Orthodox.

The Knesset may scrap a bill which had the backing of Sir Paul McCartney, to forbid the manufacture, import and export of all kinds of furs.

MK Zevulun Orlev, who chaired a coalition committee discussion on the bill, said pressure from the Charedi community, from MK Menachem Eliezer Moses and from the Shas Party had led to the bill being temporarily shelved.
Mr Orlev said: “I have no interest in offending the Charedi public”.

The bill, first introduced by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and reintroduced by MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), would have exempted the use of fur for making the traditional shtreimels, or fur hats, worn by the strictly Orthodox.

Shtreimels are made mainly in Israel, the US and Canada, chiefly from sable pelts and fox furs.

But pressure also came from the Fur Council of Canada, after a visit to Israel by its executive vice- president Alan Herscovici, Ha’aretz reported.

The bill had already passed the first of three readings in the Knesset, with no major Orthodox opposition, before Mr Herscovici’s visit, during which he met Menachem Moses, of the United Torah Judaism party.

Mr Moses said that Mr Herscovici had convinced him that those who opposed the fur trade would then lobby for an end to kosher slaughter.

Mr Herscovici said he was pleased that the bill had been shelved, saying: "This ban would have very little impact on Israel's own economy, but would have had grave ramifications elsewhere."

He added: “Israel should be the last to proceed with this kind of legislation, because Israel is being demonized and delegitimised in the West in the same way that the fur industry is being demonised - and often by the same people and circles."

The law would have been one of the strictest of its kind in the world. It is an extension of a previous law prohibiting the use of cat and dog skins.

Former Beatles member Sir Paul McCartney had voiced his support for the bill.

He said: "I, along with members of my family, have been long-standing opponents of the commercial fur trade. The reason for this is simple — fur is cruel and unnecessary .To skin an animal alive for a product nobody needs is beyond comprehension." 

"By banning such a cruel industry, Israel would provide a shining example in care and compassion that others would be sure to follow."

Anti-fur lobby groups have confirmed they will continue to lobby the Knesset get the bill reintroduced and passed.

Last updated: 1:57pm, March 19 2010