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Progress was stalled again in Israel when the legislative branch of the Israeli government postponed its vote on a ban on trading in fur, amongst calls for more time and information on the impact of the ban. On 9th March Israel came close to becoming the first ever country to ban the use of fur in its entirety, but, instead, delayed its chance to make history.
The Knesset has not yet set a date for the postponed vote on the ban, but reports from within the parliament say no bill in the last 15 years has attracted so much attention. Israel could set a global precedent that has the potential to dent an industry responsible for the poor welfare experienced by hundreds of millions of animals.
Realising the importance of this global precedence, the fur industry itself has been lobbying hard against this ban, including claims that the evidence for the suffering of animals in the fur trade was fabricated. However the evidence is clear, not least from animals in those farms claiming to have the highest standards, for example see the footage taken last year on Norwegian farms producing ’origin assured’ fur by the Norwegian Network for Animal Freedom.
The proposed ban would include a religious exemption allowing the Hassidic Jewish community to wear Shtreimal hats. Reports from within Israel suggest the pro fur lobby have led this community to believe they would be victimised for wearing these hats if the ban became law. But many laws around the world contain religious exemptions that are widely accepted.
Dr Elly Hiby, Head of Companion Animals at WSPA said: “We are disappointed by Israel’s postponement of the vote to ban fur, but we’ll keep the pressure on. Governments have a democratic as well as a moral duty to outlaw this cruel and unnecessary exploitation.”
The Israeli ban would affect all farming and processing, import, export and sale of fur from all animal species that aren’t already included within the meat industry.
The bill received unanimous support from Israeli politicians during its first reading while recent findings show that 86 per cent of Israelis consider it morally indefensible to kill animals just for their fur.
To date, several countries have banned the production of fur, but not its trade. The UK banned fur farming in 2000 on the grounds of protecting ‘public morality’, but since then UK imports of fur have risen steadily while sales of fur products have risen by 30 per cent since 2008.
By banning the production of fur but leaving the trade untouched, the continued demand for fur simply pushes its production to countries such as China, currently thought to produce 80% of all farmed fur. But with no animal welfare legislation at all, China continues the inhumane practices common to fur production.
Currently the legal position of different countries on fur is mixed. Some countries have banned the trade in fur from certain species but not from others. While the European Union and the USA have both banned the trade in fur from seals and from dogs and cats, they have not banned trade in fur from other species like raccoon dogs and polecats. Denmark recently banned fox farming, but remains the world’s second largest producer of mink fur.