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Carrots (for Israel’s Cabinet) and a Sticks (for the Rest of the Country)

So they say that an army marches on its stomach. Is the success of the Israeli cabinet also based on its nourishment?

There are clear similarities between feeding an army and feeding the Israeli cabinet, most obviously the sheer quantity of food required. In Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s panic to pull together a coalition, he doled out ministerial posts left right and center, meaning that the country has the largest cabinet ever.

But it seems that Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser has also taken on the ethos of an army commander, namely that it is his job to keep the troops healthy, even if that means controlling their food intake. As a result, at the weekly cabinet meeting this week, for the second time in a row, ministers were denied their normal snacks. There were no bourekas (savory pastries) or rugelach or even sandwiches, but rather muesli, yogurt and vegetables. Hauser reportedly put a political spin on the decision, saying that “unlike its predecessors this government will serve a full term of four years and I want the ministers to still be capable of standing on their feet.”

Now back to the size of the cabinet for a second. It’s so enormous that the joke making its rounds in political circles goes like this:

Q: How many Israeli government ministers does it take to change a light bulb? A: One. The Light Bulb Changing Minister of course.

However, in this swollen government, for reasons of power-politics, there’s no Health Minister only a Deputy Health Minister.

It’s all right for some. The public’s health has apparently never been such low priority. It has no Health Minister and a government that, in this ill-fated move tried to tax healthy eating (though later backed down). But if you’re a member of the political elite you have Knesset employees busy trying to keep you healthy and change your eating habits for the better.

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