Offbeat Israel: Swine Flu Renamed By Ultra-Orthodox Official
The rest of the world is in a panic about swine flu, but Israel isn’t. Here, it’s been renamed Mexican flu by the ultra-Orthodox deputy minister for health, because swine is not kosher.
“We will call it Mexico flu. We won’t call it swine flu,” Yaakov Litzman, the deputy minister, told a news conference earlier today.
No logic was cited. What could it be? Does he actually believe that all publicity is good publicity, and that all the talk of pigs, even in the context of their flu, is going to cause mass transgression of kashrut laws?
Several million Israelis are gearing up to celebrate Independence Day, which begins tomorrow night. They will be celebrating 61 years of the State of Israel, but it seems that their knowledge of the history of this era leaves something to be desired.
A survey by David Chen, an advisor to the Education Ministry and dean of the School of Education in the Academic College of Or Yehuda, indicated that students in grades 10–12 aren’t informed about their nation’s past.
Only 39% of those surveyed knew that Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister. Four in 10 thought that Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first president. Just 34% knew that this honor went to Chaim Weizmann.
The good news is that Israel’s national poet Chaim Nachman Bialik was well known among the youngsters, but the bad news is that 35% wrongly thought he wrote the national anthem, Hatikva. Some 19% thought it was Theodor Herzl. Just 45% responded correctly that it was Naftali Herz Imber.