Some 500 ultra-Orthodox men demonstrated Sunday evening outside the Ma'adanei Aviv store in Netanya in protest of the sale of pork. Police officials reported that the demonstration was being held peacefully and that no unusual incidents occured.
The protestors gathered outside this particular store, although other stores across the city, as well as on the same streets, also sell pork.
Last week, the Netanya City Council approved a bylaw prohibiting the sale of pork in the city. Those opposing the law called it "religious coercion and violation of the dominant status-quo in the city."
The bylaw was passed despite the legal council’s opinion that it would not be approved by the Interior Ministry or the High Court of Justice due to the fact that before such a decision is reached a poll must be taken among the population in areas where non-kosher meat vendors may choose to set up shop.
Netanya demonstration (Photo: David Halfon)
Netanya's haredi public, however, did not wait for the implementation of the bylaw and has already launched protest activists. Hundreds of demonstrators arrived at the city's Zion Square, where they prayed and held signs reading 'Help – pork on the loose', 'Stop corruption' and 'pork contaminates Israel's soul'.
One of the protestors, David Halfon, told Ynet that the reason for the demonstration was the store's advertisements, in which it openly declared that it sold pork.
"The other stores that sell pork do it quietly, but here they opened a huge supermarket and the pork is out in the open for everyone to see. The size of the store and its location were the last straw. Suddenly a pork empire opens in the center of the city, while most residents are traditional Jews. We cannot ignore this," he said.
The store owner, Zvika Hershko, said that he did not plan to stop selling pork.
"The protestors are praying and are later expected to address the public. I closed the store for fear that they would harm my property. There are 40 stores selling pork across the city, but they apparently chose to come to us because we are in a central location. I am acting according to the law. At the moment, from a legal aspect, pork can be sold in city centers as well," he said.
Yaakov Stern, a teacher at the city's Bnei Akiva Yeshiva, also took part in the demonstration.
"Pork is a symbol representing anti-Judaism – a symbol that Jews were ready to die for. It is unthinkable that in the State of Israel
pork will be sold in public. If the same thing would take place in Um el-Fahem, the whole country would be alarmed. Here it is not happening for some reason."
Moran Rada contributed to the report