A howler? Israeli minister proposes deporting strays

Claws were out on Monday after an Israeli cabinet minister proposed sending stray dogs and cats to another country as an alternative to government-funded efforts to sterilize them.

“Use the budget to transfer stray dogs and/or cats of one gender (all the males or all the females) to a foreign nation that will agree to accept them,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel suggested in a letter to a cabinet colleague leaked to the mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth daily.

The proposal, which a spokesman for Ariel said had been rejected after initial consultations within the Agriculture Ministry, was roundly criticized by animal rights activists and bemused opposition politicians.

“No way am I going to apply for a foreign passport for Pitzkeleh,” former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni tweeted above a photo showing the smiling Zionist Union party politician reclining on a sofa and feeding her cat.

The newspaper report said Ariel, a religious Jew and a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, views spaying and neutering as possible violations of God's directive “to be fruitful and multiply” and ritual law that prohibits animal cruelty.

But Zahava Galon, head of the opposition left-wing Meretz party, wrote on Facebook that Ariel's idea ran contrary to “basic morality” – and she quipped that it was time to find a country prepared to grant the minister shelter instead.

Jerusalem’s Catwoman

Gotham City had its Catwoman. Now Jerusalem has one of its own. Only this one isn’t causing chaos for our Caped Crusaders. Quite the contrary.

Recently, American-raised Tova Saul, who made aliyah 17 years ago, has become something of a folk hero in the streets of the Old City, especially among its population of stray cats. An observant Jew and an avid cat lover, Saul has dedicated her existence to saving felines from an uncertain fate on the Jewish Quarter’s mean streets. Working closely with sympathetic vets, Saul is bringing these unwanted animals back to health, and her current goal is to have every female cat in the Old City spayed before spring.

Saul is not without her helpers. Moslems, Christians and Jews all bring her rescued kittens, injured animals and leftover food for her efforts. And Angeleno Lili Feingold has brought over 16 cats from Israel, with the intention of placing them in fine homes. The animals arrive with a certificate of health and vaccination record from a Jerusalem vet.

Saul and Feingold are currently looking for Angelenos to help the cause. Anyone interested in adopting an Israeli kitten or helping transport cats from Israel can contact Lili at her e-mail address: Lilush14@aol.com. The pets now available have been checked by Shendandoah Animal Clinic. And, jokes Feingold, “all the cats understand English!” — Michael Aushenker, Community Editor