The thesis of Outlawed Pigs is that ever since Israel’s Declaration of Independence was composed, Israelis have been arguing over just how Jewish Israel should be. The perfect vehicle through which to witness the argument play itself out, maintains Barak-Erez, is to trace the evolution of the Israeli attitude toward raising and selling pigs in Israel.
Everyone knows that pigs are not kosher. However, not everyone knows that pigs are both raised and sold in Israel. The very idea of pigs in Israel is more than a question of simply keeping kosher — it is a matter of legislation and of court rulings.
The pig is a historical and visceral issue for many Jews. The Greeks desecrated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by throwing pigs into the sanctuary. When the Russians drafted Jewish children into the Czar’s army, forcing them to remain there for twenty-five years, they also force fed the Jews pig.
Watching how the Jewish State balanced historical Jewish values against democratic ideals is an excellent exercise. The author treats both her readers and her subject with respect.