Out­lawed Pigs: Laws, Reli­gion and Cul­ture in Israel

Dafne Barak-Erez
  • Review
By – March 9, 2012

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.

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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