What, No Whale Meat?

Judicial interference with the status quo regarding the ban on pig products was couched in terms reflecting the court's view that it was performing a balancing act. The offense assumedly felt by religious Jews when they see pig meat sold in their hometowns was juxtaposed with a citizen's presumed right to buy a pork chop.

Tags:
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
The inability of an Israeli to obtain a ham sandwich whenever he likes, wherever he likes, is seen by Israel's Supreme Court as an unreasonable violation of free trade and freedom of (from) religion. And now, Knesset member Igal Yasinov, of the ultra-secularist Shinui party, intends to turn to the Supreme Court once again, seeking a ruling permitting the sale of pork in the Knesset cafeteria.

The Israeli High Court of Justice this week declared the national law limiting the sale of pork products, forbidden according to Jewish tradition, to be a matter for local municipalities to regulate, or not, as they see fit. As long as whoever wants to obtain pork in a given "mixed" religious-secular municipality (as most are) can do so without too much difficulty.

Judicial interference with the status quo regarding the ban on pig products was couched in terms reflecting the court's view that it was performing a balancing act. The offense assumedly felt by religious Jews when they see pig meat sold in their hometowns was juxtaposed with a citizen's presumed right to buy a pork chop.

On the other hand, the inability of an Israeli to obtain a nice whale steak, or gazelle burger, anywhere in Israel was never challenged as a violation of anyone's rights by devout secularists or by free market purists.

When Israel ratified the Convention on the International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which strictly prohibited trade in whale meat, among other endangered animals, there was no hue and cry. When animals such as the leopard, gazelle, ibex and vulture were declared protected species, there were no indignant petitions filed with the High Court of Justice.

Yet, who says possible extinction is a reason to ban the sale of whale meat? Who says preserving a life form is a value greater in importance than free trade and freedom of conscience? No one even asked those questions. There is a generally widespread conviction that contributing to the extinction of a species is negative, and that conviction found expression in Israeli law.

Similarly, the Jewish people - in the Jewish State - have declared, through the democratic mechanism of legislation, that the sale of pig meat also runs counter to widespread convictions.

Or, to view it from the flip side: If it is deemed unacceptable to have a blanket ban on one food product because of a certain value system, then it has to be unacceptable to ban a different food product because of another value system, as well. Yet, is it conceivable that the High Court would issue a ruling allowing the sale of the meat of endangered species "only" in those towns where such sale is not offensive to the neighbors? And in the event that the neighbors are against whaling, the Court would then have to rule, as it did in the case of pork, that whale meat could only be banned from the municipality if there was a way to obtain the product a reasonable distance away.

On the other hand, why only pork? Is selling shrimps any better? From the position of Jewish religious law, of course not. Shrimps - and whales, for that matter - are just as unkosher as ham. Yet that is precisely the point - the Knesset law banning pork is not a "religious" law, in the sense that it is an application of Judaic law; rather, it is a law generally reflecting the cultural values and convictions of the majority of Jews in Israel.

The ban on pork - just like the ban on whale - is a cultural norm, and not an issue of "freedoms" and such abstract principles. The people, through the Knesset, expressed their will to put their cultural norms into law; hence, the court's latest decision is amputated from the people's will to preserve Jewish culture.

In yet another seriously flawed decision, the High Court has shown itself removed from the Jewish consensus, by ruling in favor of Israel's inconsistent, hypocritical, anti-religious and, ultimately, anti-culture activists.


top