Israel's Stance on Swine Flu Isn't Kosher

Renaming disease 'Mexico flu' shows lack of seriousness
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2009 7:23 AM CDT
Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on March 31, 2009 in Jerusalem.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Israel has confirmed its first case of swine flu—but don't call it that, says the head of the country's health department. The minister, a member of one of the ultra-Orthodox parties in Benjamin Netanyahu's government, insisted yesterday that the infection should be referred to as "Mexico flu," since pork is non-kosher. For Haaretz columnist Benjamin Hartman, the renaming is just what you'd expect out of Israel's "demented Legoland" political system.

Only in Israel, Hartman writes, could "a man who can't say the word 'vagina'" be put in charge of a ministry that supervises teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Rebranding swine flu isn't just an amusing anecdote or a warning about the failure to separate synagogue and state. The real blame lies with a political system where "ministerial seats are assured to those who broker the deals, no matter how horribly ill-suited they may be to the post."