Arab-owned meat shop in Jerusalem's Old City
Arab-owned meat shop in Jerusalem's Old CityCorinna Kern/Flash90

A number of Arab Israeli businesses are demanding an exemption from laws prohibiting the import of non-kosher meat, and have turned to the Supreme Court, calling for the restrictions to be nullified vis-à-vis Arab citizens.

Currently meat imports require certification from the Israeli rabbinate, preventing importers from bringing in cheaper, non-kosher meat.

The claimants in the case argue that the law constitutes religious coercion, forcing Israel’s Arab citizens to abide by Jewish religious law.

The suit was filed by Sawsan Zahar, a lawyer for Adalah, a left-wing Arab Israeli NGO. The claim was made on behalf of Ahmed Afnadi Inc., a meat store from the village of Kfar Kana.

Zahar previously filed a similar claim in 2008, demanding Arab Israelis be permitted to import non-kosher meat.

“There is a matter of principle here against religious coercion,” Zahar told Haaretz.

Zahar noted that similar exemptions had been issued with regards to other laws, citing the example of pork farms which are permitted in towns with a majority of Christian Arabs. Arab Israelis are also exempt from restrictions on the selling of leavened bread during Passover, Zahar pointed out, and some Arab radio stations have recently won the right to broadcast during Yom Kippur.