On September 2, politicians in Israel will be voting on a bill that, if passed, would make Israel the first country in the world to ban the import, production and sale of fur.
The bill was spurred by a documentary showing the horrors of the fur trade, including animals being skinned alive, that was produced by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel that aired in February on Israeli television.
The day after it aired, Jane Halevey head of the International Anti-Fur Coalition received messages from politicians who wanted to do something about the gruesome industry.
An opinion poll conducted for the International Anti-Fur Coalition and Israeli animal rights group Let Animals Live found 86 percent of Israelis believe killing animals for their fur is wrong.
Unfortunately some countries, including Denmark and Canada, among others, are opposing it not so much because it will impact their business, but because it will provide a shining example that other countries may follow.
Israel’s fur trade is small, worth only about $1 million a year, compared to more than $11 billion worldwide, according to the International Fur Trade Federation.
The ban was also being opposed by the Orthodox Jewish community, whose cultural headdress, called a shtreimel, is made of fur. The bill has been amended to include a cultural exception that will allow them to wear fur to preserve their tradition.
However, this past Sunday, the potential ban gained support at a meeting held between the Minister for Trade Ben-Eliezer, members of the ministry’s office, MK Ronit Tirosh, author of the bill and Jane Halevey where Ben-Eliezer officially decided to withdraw his opposition to the bill, which was a necessary step in order for it to be passed, according to the International Anti-Fur Coalition.
The bill has also received support from celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney and Brigitte Bardot, who wrote a personal letter to Ben-Eliezer that said, “Israel shall be applauded if this bill is voted in…if a nation is given a chance to act morally and declines the opportunity this would be more detrimental to the nation’s reputation for the world would know that you knew the truth behind the fur trade and choose money over morals”.
While several countries have a ban on fur production in place and a few bans are in place for select species, no one has a ban on the trade itself, which leaves markets open for importing products.
Israel has a chance here to set a global precedent telling the world that profits shouldn’t trump cruelty or suffering and, as the saying goes, animals need their fur, we don’t.