Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


No Swine Flu in Israel, It’s Not Kosher

posted by Brad Hirschfield

I wish this were a joke. I wish that in the modern state of Israel, on the eve of 61 years of independence, this were not a headline. But it it’s not, and it is. Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman declared that Israel would call the new potentially deadly disease that has already struck two continents ‘Mexico Flu,’ rather than ‘Swine Flu, as pigs are not kosher.
There is so much wrong with this, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Perhaps we should start with the notion of even having a health minister who worries about such distinctions in the face of a genuine threat to public health. Perhaps we should address the proof that Litzman’s declaration offers that when God-craft and sate-craft mix, it too-often brings out the worst in each. Or maybe it just bothers me that once again, an individual who represents Torah in the public square demonstrates just how out of touch a beautiful tradition can be made to seem when it is used so foolishly.


Litzman reminds me of the banana republic dictator in Woody Allen’s Bananas, speaking about how, in the new republic, Tuesday would be Thursday, Sunday would be Wednesday, etc. In each case, what the speaker imagines as a demonstration of their power proves why they are completely unfit to have any power at all. All of which leads to the most important question of all: why do the citizens of Israel put up with an electoral system which gives so much power to jokers like this?
Let’s agree that one important way to celebrate the existence of the state of Israel, and to help assure its vibrant future, is to advocate for election reform. Whatever our own political dispositions may be, we should turn away from any party, left, right or center – religious or secular, which rises to power on a single issue or with the support of only one segment of the society.
This kind of reform would force the “religious parties” to have well-defined platforms on the full spectrum of issues which any government must address. It would also force so-called secular parties to stop giving Judaism away to others simply because they look like Tevye the Milkman. Instead, they would need to real agendas for the spiritual life of the nation, ones which reflected their commitment to pluralism and the celebration of religious freedom. Without such shifts, Israeli politicians from every party, really do begin to look like characters in a Woody Allen movie and that is nothing to celebrate.



  • Your Name

    As a jew who loves israel I have to say I am embarrassed over the ignorance and stupiduty of the comments made by Litzman. This man has way too narrow a viewpoint to be in his position. Ekaresky

  • Anton C.

    Bananas still has to be one of the funniest movies ever. The scene where he is on a cross and being carried through midtown traffic looking for a parking spot only to be beaten out by another persom is hilarious.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/windowsanddoors/2009/04/no-swine-flu-in-israel-its-not.html Jonathan Cohen

    Let me get this one stright: Yakov Litzman, a senior member of an the United Torah Judaism political party, feels that because Jews and Moslems are forbidden to eat pork the disease should be called the “Mexican” flu. This position has not been overruled by the Council of Torah Sages who govern this ultra-Orthodox political party with a firm hand. Does this mean that the Torah now permits Jews to eat Mexicans?

  • Pingback: swine flu conspiracy theories and politics as usual - City of Brass

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