What We Did in 2013
Anonymous Activities and Accomplishments in 2013
Undercover investigation at the Soglowek slaughterhouse
In October 2013, Israel's top investigative TV programme, Kolbotek, showed an undercover investigation exposing severe cruelty to chickens and turkeys at the Soglowek slaughterhouse in Shlomi, northern Israel. As with the previous important animal rights investigation reported in that programme in December 2012, the Adom Adom slaughterhouse investigation, exposing cruelty to young calves and sheep, this programme too was made possible thanks to journalist and Anonymous activist Ronen Bar. The Soglowek abuse is even more relevant for Israeli consumers than the Adom Adom one: The number of chicken slaughtered in Israel each year reaches 220 million, a thousand time more than the number of calves and sheep. This exposé was followed by a massive wave of media coverage, and following its airing it was reported that Soglowek's sales shrank by tens of percents.
In discussions at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) following the airing of this program, some Knesset Members insisted on more effective action to prevent cruelty to animals. The slaughterhouse was even shut down for several days following an order by the District Veterinarian, who claimed that the cages used to transport the chickens and turkeys do not follow the minimal standards set by the Animal Welfare Law regarding chicken transport.
Investigation: Abuse of animals transported from Australia
Another undercover investigation this year exposed the cruel conditions of calves and lambs transported by sea from Australia for the Israeli meat industry. Tens of thousands of calves and lambs are transported to Israel each year in a very long sea journey under extremely dense conditions. An Anonymous investigator closely followed around the clock the unloading of calves and lambs from ships at the southern port of Eilat, and their transport in trucks to the holding compound. The footage and images were shown on a Channel 10 News report on July 2013. Offloading the animals takes about forty hours at extremely hot and dense conditions, and involves violence such as kicking, whipping and using electric shockers to force them to move faster. In addition to the Israeli exposé, the Australian ABC channel showed this investigation as well. In response to that, the Australian Department of Agriculture announced its intention to investigate the exporter on the basis of recent legislation there (following animal rights activism), which stipulates that exporters are legally responsible for animal abuse, even outside Australia.
Continued protest against the Adom Adom slaughterhouse: Indictments and further exposure
Also in 2013 Anonymous continued its activities in the wake of Tnuva's Adom Adom slaughterhouse exposé, aired on investigative programme Kolbotek at the end of 2012. Following an appeal to the High Court by Anonymous and Let Animals Live, the Ministry of Agriculture admitted that never before had they regulated the treatment, or non-abuse, of animals in slaughterhouses, and had only started doing this after this programme was aired. In October 2013, two indictments were presented against four of the employees shown on video abusing animals: The slaughter line manager and his deputy; and two contractor employees.
The media interest in this exposure also led to renewed calls from Anonymous for transparency regarding the way animals are treated in industrial farms and slaughterhouses. Following the indictments, Ronen Bar, the undercover investigator/journalist, was invited to Channel 10's night show Tsinor Laila, where he criticized the fact that even the Kolbotek programme didn't show direct images from the slaughtering itself. Due to that criticism, a discussion started in the programme's Facebook page regarding what viewers thought about showing such images on television. Eventually Tsinor Laila did show slaughtering footage, however not from the Adom Adom investigation but from a PETA undercover investigation at the largest kosher slaughterhouse in Uruguay. Alongside the slaughter footage, there was also a debate between Bar and chef Nicky Garner from the El Gaucho restaurant on whether the public should see the way animals are treated by the food industry.
Exposing the debeaking of chicks
In February 2013, the Ynet new portal exposed an Anonymous investigation on how chicks have the tip of their beaks cut using an ultra-hot metal blade. The debeaking of chicks is common practice in the egg industry, sometimes also in the meat industry, as a way of dealing with the problem of mutual pecking, common in chicken held in foul, high density conditions. Although there are alternative methods to deal with such mutual pecking, debeaking is still the most common means to do it in large-scale commercial farms.
Following the Anonymous investigation: Another indictment against the Ramit Hatchery
In April 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture presented the Ramit Hatchery with another indictment following an undercover investigation by Anonymous in 2012. That investigation showed the chicks through the sorting process, in which they are thrown aggressively onto the conveyor belt, and some are thrown, still alive, into rubbish bags. That hatchery was already indicted for similar offences in the past and fined NIS 60,000, as well as an equal sum for any future repetition of such offences.
The subject of chick killing in hatcheries came up again for discussion in December 2013, after the Ministry of Agriculture presented the Knesset Education Committee, 19 years too late, with proposals meant to regulate the way chicks are killed in hatcheries. Anonymous criticized these regulations, pointing out that although any method to kill chicks will be cruel, the Ministry of Agriculture's regulations propose extremely cruel ones, such as crushing the chicks alive.
Promoting veganism and helping new vegans
In 2013 Anonymous ran dozens of workshops aimed at demonstrating healthy vegan nutrition to those who wish to take their first steps on the way to vegetarianism or veganism and need help along the way. Anonymous also offers personal dietary consultation at a discount rate by a team of clinical dieticians. Kerem Avital, who coordinates the dietary consultation project, says that 2013 had seen a record number of applicants, especially following the major media exposures of the Tnuva and Soglowek slaughterhouses. In addition to her dietary consultation activities, Kerem has also published a regular blog called Veganism made easy in the Nana10 portal. The Vegetarianism and Veganism website, run by Anonymous, with hundreds of recipes, tips, advice and nutritional information for vegetarians and vegans, was completely redesigned in order to make it more accessible to the public.
The Go Vegan application for finding vegan dishes
As part of the support we offer vegans, Anonymous launched in 2013 a smartphone app called Go Vegan for finding vegan dishes in restaurants/coffee ships around Israel. This free-of-charge app, developed by activist Yehuda Goldner, currently has information on over 10,000 dishes, and is still expanding. Dishes are catalogued by type (appetizers, main dishes and desserts) and by style (Italian, Asian, Indian etc.). The app is for Android phones (download) and iPhones (download). There's also a web-based version (go-vegan.co.il which is accessible to all devices with browsers and includes all the app services.
Actions against the foie gras trade
In June 2013, Knesset Member Rabbi Dov Lipman presented, together with 20 other Knesset Members from across the political scene, a bill aimed to prohibit any trade in the livers of force-fed geese and ducks (foie gras). This is a cruel method aimed at enlarging their livers artificially by force-feeding them with huge amounts of food shoved through their throats. The force-feeding of geese and ducks had already been banned in Israel in 2006 as a result of Anonymous' campaign, but imports of force-fed geese and ducks are still allowed from countries where this practice is still legal. The Lipman's bill, based on recent similar legislation in California, got the support of the Legislation Committee, but was objected to by Agriculture Minister, Yair Shamir and Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Public Security Minister. An objection by Aharonovitch led to a delay in voting on the bill, a delay which Shamir used to propose an alternative wording of the bill to the effect that the sale of foie gras will "only be allowed in restaurants" – which of course makes the bill impotent. Anonymous held wide protests against Ministers Shamir and Aharonovitch, demanding they remove their objections to the bill, and indeed they did, leading to the bill going through the primary vote stage in the Knesset. There are still many interested parties putting obstacles in front of this bill, but we will continue to promote it in 2014. Beside promoting this bill, Anonymous also put much effort in raising awareness of the cruelty involved in the force-feeding of geese and ducks, and asked even those who aren't veggies or vegans to call for the banning of foie gras.
The campaign to remove the Animal Welfare Law from the Ministry of Agriculture
Ever since the last Knesset session, Anonymous works hard to highlight the conflict of interests built into the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture, which has most of the authority regarding the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Law, is also the ministry closest to the interests of the agricultural industry. A report published by Anonymous in 2013, "Eighteen years of ignoring abuse cannot be corrected", looks at the continuous failing of the Ministry of Agriculture to enforce the Animal Welfare Law, with special emphasis on its delay in setting up regulations to enforce the Law as required.
In 2013 a new Agriculture Minister was appointed, Yair Shamir. It's been a long time since someone who isn't from the agriculture sector fills this position. Despite this fact, he has shown himself to be no better than his predecessors, and even worse, not only in objecting to the bill against foie gras imports, but in other areas too: Among other things, Shamir said he opposed legislation to limit the fur trade, opposed the ban on using battery cages for hens, and opposed the Ministry of Environmental Protection's involvement to limit the shooting of stray dogs.
The need to remove the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Law from the Ministry of Agriculture came up for discussion at the Knesset several times in 2013. Among other things, at a Knesset debate following the Soglowek slaughterhouse exposure, several Knesset Members called for transferring such enforcement to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said at a meeting on this topic that he thinks the way this law is handled today is problematic, and that he was influenced by historian Yuval Noah Harari's book "A Brief History of Humankind" which led him to accept our need to act in order to protect animals. In November, Netanyahu set up a new inter-ministerial team which should examine the proposal to transfer the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Law from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Anonymous continues to have a team of volunteers running lectures in schools, youth organizations, military camps and university campuses across Israel. In 2013, Anonymous volunteers gave lectures to some 47,000 school students, soldiers and university students. In addition to that, Anonymous also distributed 500 teacher packs with an educational curriculum designed to help building lesson plans promoting compassion towards animals. And in 2013 Anonymous also produced, together with the Israel Scouts movement, several action plans for boy and girl scouts activities.
Anonymous on the internet
Anonymous' Facebook page had continued to gain popularity and reached over 85,000 followers in 2013 – almost twice as in 2012. Our Facebook English page also enjoyed tremendous growth this year. The Anonymous YouTube channel has around 200 animal rights videos which together accumulated over 750,000 viewings and over 800 subscribers. Many of the videos have been translated to English.
Anonymous weekly e-zine, "Animal Rights This Week" continues to be sent regularly to tens of thousands subscribers. Dr. Ariel Tsovel, who started this weekly publication, retired from editing it in 2013 after 12 years, and the new editor is Dedi Shai.
Here are some of the most popular reports in 2013, based on the number of "likes" received in Facebook:
A piece on the Poultry Commission's decision to electrocute some thousand chickens from a defunct battery cage, even though there were people willing to adopt some of them;
A report on what the municipalities of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan are doing to catch and kill jackals at the Yarkon Park area, and offering some alternative solutions to deal with the jackal over-population issue;
A piece describing Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir's activities against animal protection;
A report on a female dolphin who was released back to nature following a campaign after she was caught by a fishing net and sent to a water park;
A report on a conference on animal rights and Judaism in Jerusalem, where Rabbi Pappenheim declared his support for moving to synthetic fur shtreimls (traditional haredi headwear) instead of the current ones made of fur;
And a piece on Al Gore's, former American Vice President, move to veganism.
Activities in Arabic
Anonymous expanded in 2013 its activities aimed at the Arab sector in Israel. Our team of lecturers also offer lectures in Arabic for audiences across the country. In addition, Anonymous also launched a new Arabic website offering information on animal rights and veganism.
Would you like to help?
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.