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Bringing Home the Bacon in Israel

by Staff


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BaconIn America we grumble about pork in American politics, but in Israel the matter is less metaphorical. Since Jewish and Muslim dietary laws forbid eating pork, it seems obvious that shops in Israel wouldn't sell ham and bacon. Laws created in the 1950s and 1960s forbade the breeding and sale of pigs, according to Meatpaper (article not available online), but secular and immigrant Jews, along with Thai and Filipino migrant laborers, have found delis and grocery stores that increasingly flaunt those laws by selling them euphemistically labeled “white meat.” More than a culinary kerfuffle, the pork debate is what legal scholar Daphne Barak-Erez calls “a struggle to define Israel’s Jewish character.” Some don’t take the sneers of slaughtered pig heads in shop windows lightly—arsonists targeted two pork-serving delis in 2007. Nonetheless, pork’s popularity shows no sign of subsiding.

 —Lisa Gulya