Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Spy

Every time I come across one of these stories, I am at a loss for words…

The latest Israeli spy saga was reported by REUTERS on 07/26/2013. Turkish authorities detained a bird on suspicion it was spying for Israel, but freed it after X-rays showed it was not embedded with surveillance equipment. The kestrel aroused suspicion because of a metal ring on its foot carrying the words "24311 Tel Avivunia Israel", prompting residents in the village of Altinayva to hand it over to the local governor. The bird was put in an X-ray machine at a university hospital to check for microchips or bugging devices, according to the Milliyet newspaper, which carried a front-page image of the radiogram with the title "Israeli agent".

Turkey is a frequent target of animals spying for Israel. Just a year ago, BBC reported on vigilant peasants from south-eastern Turkey who captured yet another Mossad operative (dead, unfortunately). Who, you ask?  A common European bee-eater, whose corpse was found in a field with a metal ring around its leg stamped "Israel". This migratory bird had caused alarm after locals mistook it for an Israeli spy. Villagers called the police after deciding its nostrils were unusually large and may have carried a microchip fitted by Israeli intelligence for spying.  It was taken to government experts for examination and declared safe.  At one point a counterterrorism unit became involved in the case.

And just 6 months before that, multiple outlets carried a story reported by Al Weeam, a Saudi newspaper, about the suspected secret agent - a vulture - equipped with a GPS locator and a ring tracing it back to Tel Aviv University for a study on bird migration. Scientific practice notwithstanding, Al Weeam and bloggers all over the Arab world were certain: This vulture had been spying for the “Zionist cabal.”

A month before that, South Sinai Governor Muhammad Abdel Fadil Shousha blamed the Mossad for recruiting a shark and using it to ruin tourism in Egypt.

And a little earlier, Ma’an News Agency closely associated with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority reported that  Israeli settlers in the West Bank were engineering wild pig attacks to prevent Arabs from making use of their harvest.

And before that, there was Iranian police smashing squirrel spy ring, poison-resistant giant rats released by Israel to drive Arab residents of Jerusalem out of their homes, and many more blood-curdling stories of severe animal abuse and endangerment.

You say “Insanity”, I say…

Friday, July 12, 2013

Foie Gras No More

The Knesset passed on its preliminary reading a law that would forbid the import and sale of foie gras that is widely condemned by animal rights groups because of the cruel practices farmers use to produce it.

The law would complement a 2003 High Court decision that ordered the Agriculture Ministry to actively enforce a ban on foie gras production, which entails the force feeding of geese and ducks. Since 2006, the Ministry has been consistently enforcing the production ban, but importing foie gras for sale in Israel was still legal. The new law will completely ban the item from supermarket freezers and restaurant menus.

Foie gras is a spread based on goose liver fat and is considered a delicacy in several European cuisines. Animal rights, environmental groups, and consumer groups have long complained about the methods used by commercial foie gras producers, who force-feed geese in order to develop fattier livers, allowing them to "harvest" more fat and produce more foie gras.

MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) who proposed the law said in a statement attached to it that "Israeli society decided years ago to stop the force-feeding of animals, in order to put an end to the torture of animals that this leads to. We should thus also ban the sale of foie gras. It is our responsibility to protect the helpless. Banning the sale of this item is a matter of logic and basic fairness - not to mention the Jewish legal requirement to prevent the suffering of animals, which Israel, as a Jewish state, should embrace as well".

Fifty nine MKs voted in favor of the law, while ten were opposed. The law will now be sent to the Knesset Control Committee in order to prepare it for its first reading.

Source: Virtual Jerusalem