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Butchers Hand Out Free Ham Sandwiches To Protest Pork Sale Ban

November 19, 1990 GMT

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Butchers on Monday handed out hundreds of free ham sandwiches in downtown Jerusalem to protest government efforts to limit the sale of pork to appease ultra-Orthodox Jews.

In Tel Aviv, left-wing protesters gathered in front of the Likud party headquarters and distributed black veils to women passing by, saying Israel was on the way to becoming a theocracy like Iran.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has promised to push the anti-pork law and other sweeping religious legislation through Parliament in exchange for the support of the small, ultra-Orthodox Agudat Israel Party, which joined his ruling coalition last week.

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Observant Jews are forbidden to eat pork because it is not kosher, or permitted under Jewish dietary law.

Shouting ″Pork 3/8 Pork 3/8″ the butchers passed out the sandwiches in Jerusalem’s pedestrian mall, Israel radio reported.

The protest drew angry responses from some passers-by.

″We are in the middle of the most religious city in the world, and I think it’s digusting that people have the gall and the nerve to hand out ham sandwiches,″ one woman said on the radio.

With Agudat Israel’s support, Shamir now has a 64-seat majority in the 120- seat Parliament. In the past, he governed with a 60-member coalition and a promise of support from two right-wing legislators.

But Shamir’s agreement to back the religious legislation has prompted angry protests from some secular Israelis, a majority in the nation.