2015 In a Review - A Look at What We’ve Done
Anonymous' team of covert investigators has led no less than seven undercover investigations during 2015. The biggest exposè this year was broadcast in two parts on Channel 2 News, based on a three month investigation in two of Israel's largest poultry slaughterhouses – "Milouf" and "Of HaGalil" – and in factory farms that supply birds to these brands. Due to the investigation's large scale, it was published in two parts, that were broadcast on two consecutive nights on Channel 2 News – the first part, exposing negligence of sanitation standards, the second part focusing on animal abuse.
Clip from Channel 2 News on the udercover investigation of the poultry industry
Another large-scale investigation, conducted in cooperation with activists from "Animals Australia", exposed the abuse of sheep and cattle in Israel's largest slaughterhouse, "Dabbah". The investigation showed, among other things, that in contrast to the common belief, animals do not lose their consciousness upon slaughter – but rather, even after having their throats slit, calves were documented to remain conscious, and at times even get up on their legs and try to escape. This exposure has led to the slaughterhouse activity to be shut down for a week and a half.
As part of Anonymous's campaign against a reform on hatchery regulations that would have increased the number of chickens produced by the poultry industry, our investigation team has published footage documenting the first day in the lives of chickens in a meat-industry hatchery. The investigation was released under the name "Through their eyes", and was broadcast on Channel 10 News. Following its initial release, it has received international exposure – and was featured in Australian, Chinese, Indian, Bulgarian and Icelandic media outlets. The version of the footage uploaded to our English Facebook page has recieved over 2 million views, and another version recieved nearly 8 million views. In addition PETA has published their own version footage with added English dubbing, which recieved over half a million views.
"Through Their Eyes", Anonymous' investigation on the first day in the lives of chicks in the meat industry
In July Channel 10 News broadcast another one of Anonymous' investigation of the Soglowek slaughterhouse. That is the second investigation on the same slaughterhouse, following a previous investigation in 2013. In the new investigation, we documented slaughterers dancing with bleeding chickens, workers aggressively pulling chickens that got stuck in cage wiring, kicking them, tossing them in the air and dribbiling them. In spite of Soglowek's promises for change after the first investigation, it seems that the only major change the company bothered making was erecting a fence to conceal the goings-on in the slaughterhouse and prevent attempts of documentation.
Anonymous' new investigation exposes Soglowek's serial animal abuse
In January, a story featured in Channel 2 exposed footage taken by our investigation team, documenting how chickens are being killed when they are suspected of carrying disease – by slowly suffocating them in foam. Though this method of killing is legal in Israel, many countries around the world deemed it too cruel and outlawed it.
Chickens killed of using foam, exposed by Anonymous' undercover investigation
Other investigations published this year: in March, we released footage documenting the violent way chickens are crammed into cages when being sent to slaughter. In May, we exposed how hunters illegally incite dogs against wild boars. In August, Channel 10 published an investigation on live exports from Europe to Israel.
Anonymous continued, for the second year, to run the "Challenge22+" program: a free program to help people try out veganism over 22 days. The program includes support from guides who are experts in vegan cooking and from certified dietitians. During 2015 the program has expanded its reach, and ran a total of 42 groups (among which, 30 groups were aimed towards adults and 12 towards youth), in which 12,000 participants took part. A total of 22,000 people took part in the program since its launch on March 2014.
A promotional video for "Challenge22+", produced by Anonymous' video team
Among the notable participants this year: MK Sharren Haskel, who turned vegan through the program, shortly before becoming a member of the Knesset. Haskel thus became the second vegan MK in the history of Israel – the first being MK Tamar Zandberg, who also became vegan following her participation in "Challenge22+". In light of the project success, Anonymous has launched a pilot for an international version of the program, in which 3,000 people from around the world took part.
Anonymous has been fighting for years against the ineffectiveness of the Israeli Animal Welfare Law, and pointing out the conflict of interests arising from the fact that the government ministry that holds most of the law's enforcement authority – the Ministry of Agriculture – is also the ministry that is closest to the interests of the animal agriculture business. The criticism raised by Anonymous has been brought up in discussions held in the Knesset, especially after undercover investigations exposing the inadequate enforcement of the law.
In a government meeting held on December 3rd, the government discussed a new outline for improving the enforcement of the law. The outline included an additional budget of 7.8 million NIS for the enforcement law and a formation of a new branch for dealing with violation of the Animal Welfare Law, which will include a new state attorney to deal specifically with violations of the Animal Welfare Law and new supervisors. The government has also instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to set regulations for various different animal industries, including the egg industry, the poultry industry, and the dairy industry (the ministry held the responsibility to set regulations for these industries for over 21 years, but has avoided this duty thus far). In two years time, the government is to re-examine improvement in upholding the law, and will consider if the authority over the animal welfare should be transferred to a different ministry (as Anonymous suggests).
This year, the government has attempted to instate a reform in regulations on the poultry hatcheries, that could have drastically increased the number of chicken and turkeys hatched for the meat industry. It was estimated that as many as 20 million more birds would be hatched and killed annually – many of them would not even reach slaughterhouses, but rather be killed off as "surpluses". Anonymous, alongside other animal advocacy organizations, campaigned against the suggested reform, and thousands of people signed our petition calling to stop the reform. In a meeting of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on November 8th, the reform was nixed, and the committee chairman, MK Eitan Cabel, instructed to form an alternative plan that would not increase the number of animals abused by the industry.
Throughout 2015, nearly 300,000 sheep and cattle were transported from Australia and Europe into Israel in "live exports" – long, crowded and harsh journeys that may last up to weeks at sea. Many animals do not survive the journey. On November, Anonymous and "Let the Animals Live" filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, calling to ban live exports due to their inherent cruelty. Earlier that year, MK Tamar Zandberg has proposed a bill to outlaw live exports.
At every given moment, over 8 millions hens are being held by the Israeli egg industry – most of them in small cages, in which they don't have enough room even to allow them to spread their wings. After two years, when their egg production rate decreases, they are electrocuted to death. Anonymous operates a project for rescuing hens and finding them adoptive homes. In 2015 we managed to rescue 584 hens.
In order to help spread awareness of animal welfare issues, Anonymous has a team of volunteers who lecture at schools, school activities, youth movements, military camps, and campuses all around Israel. In 2015 we gave presentations to over 30,000 teens, soldiers, and students. In addition, Anonymous distributed aid kits for teachers that include informational packets on animal rights and how to incorporate that information into the classroom.
In addition to the "Challenge22+" program, Anonymous also offers personal dietary consultation at a discount rate by a team of three clinical dieticians: Kerem Avital, Lihi Joffe, and Tal Porat. About 300 people received consultation this year, among which about 20 parents wishing to raise their children as vegans. Avital has also published several essays and op-eds on the subject of vegan nutrition in the Israeli media.
Anonymous regularly operates street stalls, in which our volunteers hand out leaflets and information booklets, gather signatures on petitions, and present passersby with the main concepts of the animal rights movement. Stalls are held 3-4 time a week in Tel-Aviv. Stalls are also held weekly in Jerusalem, Petah-Tikvah and Modi'in. Our street team is also responsible for organizing demonstrations and rallies. In July Anonymous took part in rally in Haifa, in which over a 1,000 animal rights activists, both Jewish and Arab, participated. In October, Anonymous took part, along with other animal advocacy groups, in organizing the largest animal rights protest in the history of Israel – the animal rights parade, in which 15,000 people from all over the country participated.
Anonymous' Facebook page had continues to be the leading Facebook page on animal rights in Hebrew – and its number of followers has risen from 115,000 at the start of the year to over 137,000 at its end. Our English Facebook page, titled "Animal Rights in Israel" has reached 15,000 followers. Anonymous' YouTube channel has around 337 videos on various animal rights subjects, which together accumulated over 1,900,000 viewings and has over 2,200 subscribers. Our Instagram account has 866 followers and is updated daily.
Anonymous continues to expand, and is looking for people who'd like to get involved in our activities and help us protect animals. If you wish to help us, please contact us about volunteering or about offering us a donation.