A few years ago we covered the rampant Swine Flu that prompted Egypt’s cull of 300,000 pigs to “protect” people there against the virus. But the cull was likely just a matter of politics: The issues surrounding the raising of swine in countries where pork is religiously forbidden, including countries like Israel, raises a big question mark regarding the future of domestic and wild pigs in this region. Although swine flu. or H1N1, did not become a massive world-wide pandemic in the end, there was still much concern during the 2009 Hajj religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia who might have been infected with the H1N1 virus. Now new pig abuse criticism pops up in Israel.
Swine flu is not the only issue surrounding the raising of domestic swine, often in polluting and overcrowded conditions. The Jerusalem Post reports that a large domestic swine farm in Israel’s Western Galilee town of Mi’ilya were found to be raising more than 2,000 pigs in exceptional filthy and abusive conditions. These conditions include severe overcrowding in which injured pigs were receiving no veterinarian treatment, and were often left lying in manure sludge along with carcases of pigs that had already succumbed.
Like other neighboring countries, including Egypt, Israel’s dominant religion, Judaism, forbids the eating of pork; and this also is true for the country’s Muslim citizens, who constitute Israel’s largest non-Jewish minority. Christians and Israel’s large migrant community do support the pork market.
Although Israel’s Environment Ministry has issued orders to close the Araf pig farm, the farm is still open and not much had been done to alleviate the suffering of the poor animals being raised there in grossly overcrowded and filthy conditions.
Even though the maximum fine for severe abuse to animals is up to thee years in prison and a NIS 202,000 fine (About $50,000 USD), the owners of this horrible place made consider the monetary part of the fine as simply a “cost of doing business” as revenues generated from this enterprise are around NIS 70 Million ($17,500,000) a year!
In addition to concern by environmentalists, animal rights groups have also joined the protest against the farm where animal abuses in addition to the filthy overcrowding include such acts as tail chopping or “docking” and castration of males that is often done with any kind of anesthesia. Another environmental worry is manure filled pig sludge leaking into area streams as well as polluting farm land.
Despite Israel’s Jewish and Muslim populations, a considerable amount of pork products is consumed annually, especially by Israelis of immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union. There are no shortage of stores selling pork; and one of the country’s largest supermarket chains, Tiv Taam, readily sells both fresh pork products and processed deli meats made from pork.
Last May, the animal rights activist organization Let the Animals Live petitioned Israel’s High Court against the abuse suffered by pigs in farms such as the aforementioned one. In a prepared statement the NGO wrote: “The surprise of Agriculture Ministry inspectors is astounding, since so often documents of pig abuse pass through their hands.Abuse is made possible because the Agriculture Ministry refuses to set a minimum standard for holding pigs, as the office is charged to do under the Animal Welfare Law.”
We might hope this and other protests on the animal’s behalf will help alleviate their suffering. But with so much money being made by these pig farms, it will be hard to close all of them, if any are closed at all.
More on pigs and diseases like swine flu in the Middle East:
Swine Flu and the Future of Israeli Pigs – Domestic and “Wild”
Swine Flu and Other Challenges of the Hajj Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in 2009
Egypt to Cull 300,000 Pigs in Response to Swine Flu Virus
A Fine For Creating a Polluting Pig Sty in Israel