Israel yesterday announced it intends to ban the fur trade. If successful, it would be the first nation to end the buying and selling of a cruel commodity that has fallen out of favor in the fashion industry and with consumers.

Israel’s ban would make only a few minor exceptions for religious purposes and tradition. While some European nations such as Austria and Croatia have already banned all fur farming, they continue to allow fur sales. The United Kingdom has also banned fur farming, and Humane Society Internationa/U.K. is now leading the #FurFreeBritain campaign aimed at ending fur sales in that country.

Making the announcement, Israel’s environmental protection minister Gila Gamliel did not hesitate to call the use of fur in fashion exactly was it is: immoral.

"The fur industry causes the killing of hundreds of millions of animals around the world, and involves indescribable cruelty and suffering," she said. "Utilizing the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral."

Last week, announcing a ban in her country on the farming of mink for fur, as well as the use of wild animals in circuses and marine shows, France’s ecology minister Barbara Pompili professed a similar distaste for such exploitation of wildlife. "It is time that our ancestral fascination with these wild beings no longer means they end up in captivity,” she told reporters.

These are welcome words, because they show that lawmakers, increasingly, are echoing the compassion and concerns voiced by consumers and taking action to limit trades that exploit wildlife. Attitudes toward fur have changed rapidly in recent years, with major fashion houses and retailers going fur-free. Just last week Nordstrom, one of the United States' leading fashion retailers, announced it would end all fur sales by next year, joining many big names in fashion, including Prada, Gucci and Macy’s, that have made similar announcements.

So far 12 European nations have announced an end to fur production, and so has the largest U.S. state, California. Several celebrities have embraced fur-free fashion and last year, we learned that Queen Elizabeth II, one of the world’s most photographed icons, would no longer wear new fur outfits for her public engagements.

The coronavirus pandemic has added more urgency to ending this trade, with mink in the United States, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark testing positive and, in some cases, passing the virus on to workers. Dutch lawmakers announced in August that they would close down all mink fur farms next year, ahead of a 2024 deadline, essentially ending all fur production in the country.

The end of fur couldn’t come sooner. Its production results in painful captivity and death each year for millions of animals worldwide, including foxes, mink, rabbits and raccoon dogs. Our Humane Society International investigations have exposed some of this brutality. Earlier this year, investigators undercover on fox fur farms in an Asian country documented animals who were kept in small cages their entire lives, their most basic needs denied, before they were dragged out and bludgeoned to death. Some animals were skinned while still alive.

Such cruelty so someone can wear a fur coat or carry a bag with a fur trim is unfathomable and completely unnecessary. Alternatives to fur are widely available now, and almost indistinguishable from the real thing. We commend Israel, France, the Netherlands and all other countries that are working toward a fur-free future for moving in the right direction. And we urge nations that continue to engage in the trade, including the United States where fur sales are dropping, to act swiftly to end this terrible business built on animal suffering.

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