The Economy Ministry has altered its regulations on pork and lard imports, saying that only “kosher” pig products can be imported into the Jewish State. Since this is impossible as all swine is by definition not kosher, it essentially means that pork and lard are no longer allowed to be imported into Israel reports TOI.
The new regulations, published on Wednesday, prohibit the importation of pork belly, intestines, and edible lards derived from pork by-products. Alongside the listing of the products, the ministry included a new requirement: kosher certification.
Although the import of non-kosher meat has been outlawed in Israel since 1994, exceptions have been made for pork parts, sausages, and lard. Approximately 295 tons of pork and lard have been imported from 2013 to 2015. This number decreased to 93 tons under Shas party head Aryeh Deri in 2015.
In the section dealing with dietary laws, the Bible lays down two characteristics that qualify an animal as being kosher: cloven hooves and chewing the cud.
Any animal that has true hoofs, with clefts through the hoofs, and that chews the cud—such you may eat. Leviticus 11:3
The Bible goes on to specify that camels, hyrax, and hare are also unfit for consumption. But throughout Jewish history, pork has been seen as the archetypal unclean meat. This prohibition against pork was so powerful that it was adopted by Islam. According to Jewish tradition, this stringency was due to the deceptiveness of the pig in this regard. Midrash (homiletic teaching) describes the pig as holding out its feet with it cloven hooves and saying, “See these! I am kosher” while hiding its inner nature which does not include chewing the cud.
The change was under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current transitional government. The current government has held the office since December of 2018.
Ultra-secular Blue and White MK Yair Lapid blasted the new regulations saying: “Dear Israeli government, get out of our plates!” wrote Lapid on Twitter. “The state will not dictate what we can and cannot eat. When we form a government, we will cancel the regulation.”
Domestic pig farming is also forbidden under Israeli law. However, the government has made exceptions for farmers in mostly Christian areas.