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Israeli government kosher on the outside only

By Ariel Natan Pasko
web posted June 21, 2004

The Israeli Supreme Court last week, in contradiction to thousands of years of Jewish tradition, and Israeli Law, overturned the 1956 Law of Authority, which granted city governments special authority to enact regulations banning the sale of pork products within their municipality. Many cities in Israel have such a ban, and at issue were petitions to the court, to remove that banning power from municipalities.

The nine-judge panel voted unanimously to allow the sale of pork and instructed municipalities to enact new regulations conforming to guidelines set down by the court. The guidelines include, taking the character of individual neighborhoods into account when enacting restrictions on sales of non-kosher meat. The guidelines allow pork to be sold in neighborhoods where the overwhelming majority of the population wants to buy pork, or are indifferent to its sale, i.e. where there are few religious or traditional Jews. In mixed neighborhoods, the city would be allowed to decide for itself.

The Supreme Court's "pig decision," came in response to four petitions against the local bans. A three-year-old suit filed by Likud MK Marina Solodkin (originally part of the Russian-immigrant Yisrael B'Aliyah Party before they merged with Likud), challenged the laws against public sale of pork in Beit Shemesh and Karmiel. The Shinui Party petitioned against the ordinance in Beit Shemesh, and a meat processing company challenged the ban in Tiberias.

"The Supreme Court has driven a nail into the coffin of Jewish identity in the State of Israel," Haredi (ultra-orthodox) opposition Shas Party leader Eli Yishai said in reaction to the court's decision.

United Torah Judaism Member of Knesset Rabbi Meir Porush also Haredi and in the opposition, decried the Supreme Court's decision. "Our Sages determined that one who raises pigs in the Land of Israel is cursed," Porush said. He also questioned the motives of the justices, who give the appearance of working to destroy the Jewish character of the nation.

But from the National Religious Party (a more modern orthodox party in the government), MK Shaul Yahalom said the decision was "reasonable," given the "well-known views of the judges." He said his party would have preferred to ban the sale of pork entirely. He also welcomed the decision of the judges not to cancel the jurisdiction of cities to implement local ordinances.

In contrast, Shinui Party leader and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said the decision is "good news," he said Shinui is not "pro-pork" but wants citizens to have the freedom to buy "what they want, wherever they want."

Throughout Jewish history, Kashrut observance, i.e. Jewish dietary laws (as seen in Leviticus ch. 11 and elsewhere), has been a hallmark of Jewish life. Historically, if you asked most non-Jews about Jews and Judaism, the things they would know most about were the Sabbath, Passover and Matzot (those funny dry crackers), Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement, and that Jews keep kosher, they don't eat pork.

After their conquest and occupation of Judea, the Syrian Greek Hellenists (c. 168 BCE) attempted to "break" the Jews. They set up an idol and began offering pigs to their pagan deity, in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. When they began to spread their heresy among the Jews, they started in a small town called Modiin. They set up an alter in the town square and instigated some weak Jew to offer a pig up as a sacrifice in plain public view. Public acceptance was meant to imply that the Jews were repudiating the Torah and their covenant with the G-D of their fathers. But in a clear example of the "Law of Unintended Consequences," it sparked a national revolt instead, when a priest by the name of Matityahu took a sword, stabbed the turncoat Jew and Syrian Greek officials, and declared, "Whoever is zealous for the Torah and is steadfast in the Covenant, let him follow me." The revolt spread, and ultimately was successful, leading to a liberation of the Judean homeland from occupation . The Jews cleaned-up the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and re-lit the menorah. The oil burned miraculously eight days (the Hanukah story), and Hanukah is celebrated till this day, throughout the Jewish world, as a holiday celebrating the liberation of the Jews and Judaism from pagan culture.

Why is the pig so detested in Jewish tradition?

If you look closely at chapter 11 of Leviticus, in the Torah, dealing with dietary laws, you'll find the defining characteristics of kosher land animals -- mammals -- they must "chew their cud" and they must have "split hoofs". Several animals are given as examples that chew their cud but don't have split hoofs. The pig is given as the example of that which has spit hoofs, but does not chew its cud. The Torah clearly says just following the pig example, "Don't eat their meat..." and in temple times "don't touch their carcasses..." because you will become ritually impure (and unable to attend services at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem).

So, it's very clear that Jewish law forbids eating pig.

The pig has even entered the popular culture of Jews as the symbol of hypocrisy. Because, it looks kosher on the outside -- you can see it has split hoofs -- yet it is "Treif" i.e. not kosher on the inside, because it doesn't chew its cud. In Yiddish (one of the thirty-some Judeo-vernacular languages that Jews created in their 1,900-year-exile from their homeland), a "Chazzer Fissel" or pig's foot was what one called a hypocrite.

And so, the most beautiful thing just happened, the G-D of Israel made His manifest Will clear for all to see. Usually one fumbles around, good intensions, good behaviors, but you're never really sure if you're doing the right thing. Then once in a while, comes a blessed moment, G-D's message is as clear as day.

This court decision comes at a time when the Israeli government is attempting to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign against part of its own Jewish population. Ariel Sharon, current prime minister and the "father of the settlement movement," who for years encouraged Jews to "take to the hilltops" and set up "outposts," has agreed in the Roadmap to "painful concessions," which includes dismantling those very same outposts. Those so-called outposts are actually new neighborhoods -- only extensions of existing towns -- within the legal boundaries of the town limits. Some were set up without permits (a technicality), but many others do have all their paperwork done. But Sharon, for his own political purposes, has allowed the image of the outposts to be portrayed in the Israeli and world media as "wildcat settlements" that are patently illegal.

And now, with his "Gaza Disengagement Plan," Sharon is determined to evacuate, expel, ethnically cleanse, Jews from their legally lived in homes, from their legally lived in towns, from historically Jewish Gaza, a part of the biblically promised "Land of Israel". Sharon looked kosher all these years to many on the right in Israel; retired general and war hero, supporter of settlement activity, tough on terror, his opposition to Oslo. Yet, in the end, he's willing to give away a part of the Land of Israel, without any quid-pro-quo from the "Palestinians". He's willing to allow Gaza to become a Terror State launching pad to wipe out the rest of Israel (the security fences won't stop Hamas missiles). And he's going far further than any Left-wing politician who supported Oslo.

"Chazzer Fissel" indeed.

The man, who so epitomized security concerns, is now in negotiations with the Labor Party, to bring them into the government. Those are the same people who brought the tragedy of the Oslo Agreement -- about a thousand Israelis killed in the last three years of warfare alone -- to the Jewish State.

Sitting with Sharon's Likud Party, in the Israeli coalition government is Shinui, a party ostensibly middle-class and secular, who wrap themselves in the flag of Israeli democracy and tolerance. But, of course, that didn't stop them from running the most overtly racist campaign in Israel's political history, against the Haredim, i.e. ultra-orthodox Jews, during the last elections. They consistently called them "parasites," something worthy of the Nazis, and something that should not be tolerated in a Jewish State.

With Sharon recently firing the two National Union ministers over the disengagement plan, and the National Religious Party also on the verge of leaving the coalition, Sharon's men have been scrounging around for additional coalition partners, to join the now minority government. Teetering on the verge of collapse, Sharon's government has even contemplated reaching out to the ultra-orthodox parties.

But the Shinui Party, according to MK Yigal Yasinov, would never sit with Haredim in the coalition, not today and not ever. Asked if he didn't feel his position was racist, Yasinov claimed that Haredim "just worry about money for Yeshivot [rabbinical seminaries] and their institutions, and are involved in graft and illegal activities," therefore his position was justified, he said.

In fact, it's Shinui's partner in the coalition, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who for almost two years had been implicated in a bribery scandal along with his son.

More "Chazzer Fissel".

By the way, that's MK Yasinov, former Beit Shemesh resident and pro-pork activist, who was deeply involved with the city's "pork battles". Now that he's "won" in the Supreme Court, limiting the right of municipalities to ban pork products, Yasinov's proposed the opening of a restaurant in Israel's parliament that would sell pork and shrimp. As he said, "most people who work in the Knesset do not follow the rules concerning kosher food, and therefore, according to the court's ruling, it should be permissible to sell pork in the Israeli parliament." If he doesn't get his way, Yasinov threatened to turn to the Supreme Court once again, to get a ruling that would permit the sale of pork in the Knesset cafeteria.

What's next the Israeli army? They and the police are already being used in the "unkosher" expulsion of Jews from their land.

In response to Yasinov's demands, United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler charged that, "The proposal is part of the Shinui plan to "disengage" from the Jewish people.

Disengagement from Gaza, disengagement from Jewish tradition, that's why I say that the Israeli government is kosher on the outside only.

With everything I've said, I don't want my words misconstrued to imply that I'm against the State of Israel. Jewish political independence in the Land of Israel, i.e. the State of Israel, is an important mitzvah from the Torah. In fact, all of Judaism presumes that Jews live in their own homeland as an independent polity. But, one needs to understand there is a distinction between any particular government in Israel and the State of Israel. The State of Israel is Holy. It is supposed to be used to further the cause of G-D in this world. But governments, administrations and their policies come and go. Those in power may occasionally misuse its institutions (like in the disengagement plan), and this, must be stopped.

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko (c) 2004/5764 Pasko

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