Thursday, April 9, 2009

Give us this day our daily bread -- unleavened

I observe a strict dietary rule. I only eat ATG foodstuffs -- All That Grows. Grilled chinchulines (cow bowels), a key ingredient of Argentina's national dish, is one of my favorites, but I democratically give a chance to all national and non-national cuisines. My philosophy is that everything must be given a try -- snails, snakes, carpinchos, beetles, whatever. I have rarely been let down.

Others, equally respectably, choose to restrict the scope of what they eat.

The problem arises when you decide that what you don't want to eat shouldn't be eaten by others (who may or may not share your rejection) either. In totalitarian countries they do this by law, officially banning the open sale of the forbidden foodstuffs.

In at least one democratic country they do exactly the same. These days Jews celebrate the festival of Pesach, which commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, which was so hasty that they didn't have time to leave their bread to leaven. That's why observant Jews don't eat leavened products (hametz, in Hebrew) on Pesach; instead they consume a kind of unleavened cracker called matzah.

So far, so good. But in 1986 a law was enacted in Israel forbidding the public display of hametz during Pesach for sale purposes in Jewish-majority areas. And as the Jerusalem Post reports,

[S]elf-appointed informers will wander the cities of Israel this holiday searching for wayward restaurateurs, bakers and other food purveyors illegally displaying leavened bread during the seven days of Pessah.

Armed with a cellphone camera and an eye - and a nose - for fresh-baked bread, each informant will relay concrete evidence of the illicit culinary activity to a group of legal activists. Police, municipal officials and the Interior Ministry will be notified of the transgression.

"The Jewish character of the State of Israel is at stake," said Nachi Eyal, chairman of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, whose organization is spearheading a campaign to encourage Israelis to help enforce the Hametz Law.


The article goes on to clarify that since mostly-secular Israeli Jews are hametz-lovers after all, it's very difficult to enforce this law. This may well be so, but that's not the point. The point is that being fined or not for displaying hametz during Pesach depends on the authorities' goodwill. And if you're not fined, it's not because you have a right; it's because you're tolerated.

One wonders if the State of Israel has a law forbidding the public display of food at daytime during the Islamic month of Ramadan, in which Mulsims are required to fast from dawn to sunset, in attention to the large Muslim minority that lives in the country.

Well, one doesn't actually wonder.

"Exactly the same rights as Jews," my foot.

34 comments:

Alex Stein said...

I don't know what you mean with that stuff about Ramadan, but you seem to imply that non-Jews are also banned from displaying Hametz, which isn't the case.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Non-Jews are also banned from displaying hametz so long as they live in an area where most of the inhabitants are Jews.

For instance, a Jew can't display hametz in downtown Tel Aviv and an Arab can't display hametz in downtown Tel Aviv.

Equality before the law? No, because there's no legal impediment for a Jew to publicly display foodstuffs by daytime during Ramadan in Nazareth.

Anonymous said...

"Non-Jews are also banned from displaying hametz so long as they live in an area where most of the inhabitants are Jews."

This is a lie. Find me the law that says that.

This is such a silly non-issue. Most Western countries give a day off work for Christmas and Easter but not for Jewish holidays. Does this mean they're descriminating against their Jewish minority? Of course not! The religious practices of the majority population are honored as a matter of convenience and public agreement.

And by the way NO Jew would EVER display foodstuffs publicly during Ramadan in downtown Nazareth or any Muslim area of Israel. It just doesn't happen. Again, you won't be able to find any article or any other evidence that Jews display food during Ramadan in Muslim areas.

Once again, your arguments have been debunked as silly hooey.

Alex Stein said...

Ibrahim - I just had a very nice lunch in the Galilee, an Arab run business, where both bread and matzah were offered. I have a branch of Abu Lafia near me; will check to see if they are open during Pesach...

edwin said...

This is such a silly non-issue. Most Western countries give a day off work for Christmas and Easter but not for Jewish holidays.

I can't speak for most western countries, and I have a hunch that Anonymous can't either.

In Canada people are able to take days off for their religious holidays - no matter what their religion is. The state does set official holidays - some with secular history, some with religious history. That does not mean that Canada is "christian", for example. If you want to take a holiday other than the official holiday for religious reasons, you can be required to work the religious holiday as a regular work day. In any case, the state does not enforce religious codes of conduct, as described in the article that the hasbara buster quoted. Instead Canada has freedom of religion - including for Jews. No vigilantes roaming the streets phoning the police to report on wayward Jews here.

And by the way NO Jew would EVER display foodstuffs publicly during Ramadan in downtown Nazareth or any Muslim area of Israel.

And - what's your point? Do Jews engage in good business practises, and not insult their customers or is it the law or are you "just out to lunch?"

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

This is a lie. Find me the law that says that.

You can access the law here.

This is such a silly non-issue. Most Western countries give a day off work for Christmas and Easter but not for Jewish holidays.

This is utter crap. In Argentina, you're entitled not to work both on Christmas and on the holidays of your own religion.

I just had a very nice lunch in the Galilee, an Arab run business, where both bread and matzah were offered.

A Jewish-run business in the Galilee would also be allowed tu sell bread, because the law applies to Jewish-majority areas, and the Gelilee is mostly Arab.

But what makes the law unfair is not where it applies, but to whom it applies. It applies to everyone who lives among a Jewish majority. The Arabs are thus forced to adhere to Jewish superstitions if they're unlucky enough to live in a Jewish district, while a Jew living or travelling in the Galilee, such as yourself, is not required to respect Muslim customs.

By comparison, in the US, say, you're not required not to work on Christmas or Easter, even if you live in the Bible belt.

Daniel S said...

Stupid Law, agreed. However, you are still allowed to buy and sell chametz inside your store. Arabs are not prohibited from selling, buying or eating Chametz in public, nor are Jews.

It's a cultural law, it's stupid and it doesn't force anybody to stop eating th foods that they want. All it does (not that ANYBODY takes any notice of this law) is stop people putting bread in their shop windows.

E.H. said...

Oh, it's a stupid, trivial law is it, that doesn't affect Arabs, does it?

Tell that to the non-Jewish Arab man who was chased to his door and had his house surrounded by an angry mob and was nearly lynched in the ensuing riot when he dared to drive a car on Yom Kippur.

http://www.merip.org/mero/interventions/lagerquist_interv.html

Anonymous said...

"In Argentina, you're entitled not to work both on Christmas and on the holidays of your own religion."

Baloney! In Argentina Christmas Day is a national holiday, Passover is not. So I guess this means that Argentina discriminates against its Jewish minority. Where are equal rights?!

Truth is your argument is a total joke and you know it.

Anonymous said...

"By comparison, in the US, say, you're not required not to work on Christmas or Easter, even if you live in the Bible belt."

Another untruth. Most businesses across the whole US are closed for Easter and Christmas making it impossible to work even if you wanted to.

The fact is that socieities are rooted in traditions and minorities within those societies need to adapt themselves to the traditions of the majorities. This is not racism or prejudice -- it is called assimilation into the majority culture.

Hence in most of the Western world Christmas and Easter are celebrated officially and people get the days off work, Passover is not. Similarly, Pesach and its rituals are official celebrations in Israel and Ramadan is not.

Alex Stein said...

Ibrahim - I just saw a pizza place open on Dizengoff in Tel Aviv. I also assume that places in Jaffa don't close...I think the law is far more ambiguous than you make it out to be...

As for the issue of equality before the law, you are right to campaign for freedom to sell hametz during pesach, but I don't think the cause of liberty would be served if anyone - Arab or Jew -was banned from displaying food during Ramadan. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion is very important.

Rob said...

I love the way "anonymous" first of all says that there's no such law, then when that lie is exposed starts wittering on about everything in the USA shutting for Easter. I'm currently sitting in Colorado, I have electric light and internet services all working fine, there will be shops open today at which I can buy groceries and plenty of other things, and the while ski resort here will be humming with business. And today, oh stupid lying anonymous coward, is Easter. Have a good one.

Anonymous said...

Rob it is impossible to have a discussion with someone so offensive -- but that's the typical m.o. for you people isn't it.

Anyway, you miss the point completely. Forget the USA. I am sitting in Switzerland and EVERYTHING is closed today. Everything. Does this mean that Switzerland is discriminating against its sizable Jewish and Moslem minorities? It is illegal to produce kosher and halal meat in Switzerland because of concerns about animal rights. It is illegal to build mosques and synagogues over a certain size and yet there is no such restrictions on building churches. It is illegal to build minarets on mosques.

It is foolish to say that such restrictions constitute descrimination. It is simply Switzerland enshrining its Christian identity in its laws. And I, as a Jew living here, find nothing wrong with that at all. And this is exactly what Israel is doing in relation to Passover. It does not constitute descrimination by any measure -- and I'm sure that Israeli Arabs would not find any point at all in trying to display hametz in a majority Jewish neighborhood -- esp. since nobody would buy it and it might be construed as offensive by many passerbys.

As I said in my first post, this is a total non-issue -- just a silly invented controversy by a man seeking t demonize Israeli democracy and clearly grasping for straws.

Rob said...

So now the "everything shuts at Easter in the USA" line is exposed as a lie, Afraidtogivehisname moves the goalposts yet again, to Switzerland. And if a Swiss blogger exposes the new material as a lie, why he'll move on to Zanzibar, or New Zealand, or Tristan da Cunha. Anywhere to distract attention from Israel, whose theocratic laws are what the rest of were talking about. You;re such a joke I can't even get cross with you, Namelessmoron.

Anonymous said...

I am not lying. Maybe where you are in Colorado things stay open for Easter, that's certainly not the way it is in most places in the Western world. You can verify everything I've said about Swtizerland -- the coutnry I've lived in for years -- and you'll see I am describing the situation accurately.

But you cannot grapple with the core of my argument -- that demonizing Israel because of its hametz laws is using a ridiculous double standard that is not applied to any other coutnry on earth -- and this is why you resort to childish insults.

Then again, no wonder you're so angry -- just look at you and that silly beard!

Anonymous said...

Rob,

Fat, bald, old and bearded would make me pretty angry as well...

Margaret said...

It is a criminal law, enforced by fines, not a custom (cultural 'law'.)
FESTIVAL OF MATZOT (PROHIBITION OF LEAVEN) LAW, 5746-1986* Prohibition of display of leaven
The issue is that the religious laws of a minority of the society are invoked against others regardless of whether they embrace the religion or not, yet another form of privilege reducing the rights of the majority to live a life that reflects their personal beliefs. Such a law increases the power of a religious minority, both as individuals and as a group, over the entire population, without reciprocal value for those who are not members of the privileged group. It also reinforces the fiat of religious law over civil law. Criminal laws in a democracy are intended to serve the greater good of society, rather than increasing the power of one group over another, which debilitates the social good. Laws that are not meaningful trivialize the rule of law. The potential for an individual to experience first the censure of a religious authority and then that of law enforcement is potential for severe conflict; conflict is disruptive to the social fabric. The law as written is so vague that it appears to invite misuse and abuse. "[S]elf-appointed informers...will relay concrete evidence of the illicit culinary activity to a group of legal activists. Police, municipal officials and the Interior Ministry will be notified of the transgression." Those self appointed informers have "..powers of a police officer under section 2 of the Criminal Procedure (Arrest and Searches) Ordinance What greater good is served? ""The Jewish character of the State of Israel is at stake." That, to me, trivializes Judaism.

There are no laws in the US governing the entire population's behavior relating to observance of Christmas, Easter or to any other aspect of a religion, except those which allow personal religious freedom. It is customary for businesses to close, it is not required by law.

Anonymous said...

Margaret,

I agree with you that the law is ultimately unnecessary. I don't keep kosher or throw away hametz over Pesach. Elsewhere on this blog I have voiced my strong concerns regarding the strength of the haredim in Israel -- something new in Israel's history that threatens the secular democratic nature of the whole country.

However, this hametz law is NO different than any of the myriad of laws passed in almost every other coutnry in the world enshrining the customs and traditions of the culture. I repeat from my earlier post the case of Switzerland:

I am sitting in Switzerland and EVERYTHING is closed today. Everything. Does this mean that Switzerland is discriminating against its sizable Jewish and Moslem minorities? It is illegal to produce kosher and halal meat in Switzerland because of concerns about animal rights. It is illegal to build mosques and synagogues over a certain size and yet there is no such restrictions on building churches. It is illegal to build minarets on mosques.

It is foolish to say that such restrictions constitute descrimination. It is simply Switzerland enshrining its Christian identity in its laws. And I, as a Jew living here, find nothing wrong with that at all. And this is exactly what Israel is doing in relation to Passover. It does not constitute descrimination by any measure -- and I'm sure that Israeli Arabs would not find any point at all in trying to display hametz in a majority Jewish neighborhood -- esp. since nobody would buy it and it might be construed as offensive by many passerbys.

Answer me this: why should Israel be singled out for opprobirum as a "theocratic state" when most countries -- even Switzerland! -- legislate religious traditions in the exact same way? It is an impossible and transparent double standard.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

It is illegal to build minarets on mosques.

No, it isn't. Zürich boasts a minaret. See it here.

why should Israel be singled out for opprobirum as a "theocratic state" when most countries -- even Switzerland! -- legislate religious traditions in the exact same way?

Apples and oranges.

Switzerland is not a country that came to a place heavily populated with Muslims and Jews. Rather, it's a country that was created before the world had any notion of human rights, and that promoted the Christian faith through the means that were fashionable at that time, for instance coertion.

Several centuries later, the Jews and the Muslims came to the country accepting it as it was. They were allowed to build their temples, conduct business, and take part of the country's political life (a former Swiss president was Jewish). Any symbolic discrimination they suffered (for instance, the cross in the flag) was already in place before they chose to immigrate.

The case of Israel is exactly the opposite. It's not the Arabs that came to Israel; it's Israel that came to an Arab-populated land. Ergo, Israel had the obligation to adapt to the existing population, creating neutral and egalitarian institutions. If the Zionists didn't like it, then they should have considered Patagonia, Uganda or Madagascar. But since they chose to come to Palestine, they were --and are-- under the obligation not to pass laws that coerce the native population into respecting their superstitions.

That's why the hametz law is wrong.

Rob said...

SwissTroll,

Being fat, bald, old and bearded doesn't make me remotely angry, and neither do you. As I said, it's the way that every time you lose an argument you try to shift the goalposts that I find rather amusing. If I were ashamed of my name, my appearance or my opinions I would hide them all behind a cloak of anonymity like you.

When I'm not on holiday I live in Scotland, where everything does NOT close for Easter; nor does it in England. In Scotland it never did, though I can remember from my childhood when England pretty much closed. If you want to make that your point now, OK: in Switzerland is it _illegal_ for anyone to open a business on Easter Sunday (i.e. would it attract legal sanctions)? Or is it merely not the done thing? Could you, as a Jew, apply for permission to trade today? If you could then there is no religious discrimination: if not, then I would contend that there is. (I suspect the English position was discriminatory in the old days.)

The business with a maximum size for mosques and synagogues which does not apply to churches is without a shadow of a doubt religious discrimination, and I'm amazed nobody's challenged it in the courts. In the EU a law like that would last about 10 seconds, I'm proud to say.

So no, I'm not applying a double standard. I believe what you say about Switzerland, and I think it is applying religious discrimination in this respect just as much as Israel. It has no business enshrining its "Christian identity" in its laws where those laws apply to all of its citizens. But then I've never suggested that Switzerland was anything other than a shitty place to live and work, have I?

Of course, Switzerland's constitution does not declare it to be a homeland for the Christian (or even the Calvinist) people: if it did I would be calling it a theocracy too. Other states whose constitutions define them as a state for people of a particular religion are The Vatican, Bhutan and Pakistan. (Probably Saudi Arabia, if it has a constitution.)I certainly call them theocracies rather than democracies. And all pretty shitty places in my opinion.

If the "core of your argument", SwissTroll, is that "demonizing Israel because of its hametz laws is using a ridiculous double standard that is not applied to any other coutnry on earth" then I think it's been shown to be a very rotten core indeed, with no shred of factual evidence to support it. But then, pretending that all criticism of Israel is unique and that no other country is criticised for the same things is, in your own phrase, "the typical m.o. of you people". (BTW, who are "we people"? Gentiles? Non-Swiss? Commenters who aren't afraid to put their names to their postings? )

Rob said...

Ibrahim,

SwissTroll may be wrong about Zurich, but according to the US State Department's Human Rights Report on Switzerland:

"Islamic organizations have complained that authorities in many cantons and municipalities discriminated against Muslims by refusing zoning approval to build mosques, minarets, or Islamic cemeteries. The efforts of Muslims in the Langenthal Community, Bern Canton, to construct a minaret continued to be delayed by such issues. The original building permit issued by the municipal authorities was cancelled by cantonal authorities in April 2007. Construction of a minaret in Sololthurn, which had been delayed by zoning issues, was completed during the year. Efforts of Muslims to construct facilities in St. Gallen reportedly were abandoned."

So he's not making it all up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for not calling me a liar again, Rob. I feel bad about personally insulting you but after your offensive comments you had it coming...

Alberto Yusuf's typical attempts to weasel his way out of an untenable argumentative position simply show his shallow and ultimately cardboard weak argument when it comes to Israel. SWITZERLAND IS NO DIFFERENT THAN ISRAEL in terms of affording special rights to the majority based on historical traditions. In fact, as long as such rights to do not impinge on the freedoms of the minority there is no human rights violation at all according to international law. Of course, the US State Dept. might bitch and moan about both Switzerland and Israel but then again look how they treat their black minority...

So truth be told, Switzerland has laws that are possibly even more restrictive on their own minorities than Israel does. So next time you hear that Israel "discriminates" against its Arab minority go check out what other Western countries do to ensure their historic traditions stay alive (and they didnt have a history-destroying Holocaust to contend with!)

So next time Alberto Yusuf starts bashing Israel just remember how he lost this argument and tried to weasel his way out of it.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I see claims being made, rebuttals being presented and the rebuttals being ignored, at which point the dialectical process is broken.

You said the hametz law doesn't apply to Arabs; I proved it does. You said Switzerland has a ban on minarets; I gave a link to the minaret in Zürich. You said Switzerland is no different from Israel; I spelled out very carefully the difference between a country that has been evolving for centuries and one that was created from scratch on someone else's land after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed.

Now you declare yourself the winner of the debate. Congratulations; pat yourself on the back and keep on with your intellectual jerking off.

Anonymous said...

"I spelled out very carefully the difference between a country that has been evolving for centuries and one that was created from scratch on someone else's land after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed."

This is exactly what I referred to as "weaselling out of an untenable argumentative position." Yusuf's historical narrative is just a total joke. Suffice it to say that Jewish laws and customs have been evolving far longer than Switzerland's. Moreover, Israel was not "created from scratch" like, say, Syria or Iraq, but rather reborn intact as a political entity after twenty centuries out of the ashes of the Diaspora.

And who cares at what time local laws were created in relation to the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? This is as patently immaterial to the argument as claiming that the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust depends on whether or not there are recordable instances of Christian men killing Jewish women (I am not kidding: this is actually what Yusuf claimed on another thread!)

I have had enough of this Jew-obsessed Islamist convert who boasts about being an antisemite and believes the Holocaust should not be taught at schools.

Anonymous said...

"Christian men killing Jewish women"

Just to be clear: I meant "Christian men killing their Jewish wives."

This is what Yusuf actually claimed on a thread he wrote intended to blame the Jews, and specifically their advocac of Holocaust education, for the genocide in Rwanda.

This guy is sick. Real sick. In obvious need of a good Jewish shrink!

andrew r said...

keep on with your intellectual jerking off.It's called: my people have really big guns so I can leisurely whip out bullshit.

There are no rules. If it's a secular or religious argument, anything that contradicts you is fair game.

Anon conveniently ignores that ancient Israel was a theocracy that put people to death for breaking the sabbath. That's what you want to bring back, anon?

andrew r said...

also:

believes the Holocaust should not be taught at schools.It's not his fault you have no reading comprehension. You know that isn't what he said.

Margaret said...

Anonymous: I had enough of you at: Suffice it to say that Jewish laws and customs have been evolving far longer than Switzerland's. Israel is a political entity. And?

Religious laws govern religious behavior. As you note, Israel is a political entity. Constraint of an entire population by rules which disadvantage the majority while privileging a minority creates civil unrest within the society. To maintain control, the minority must be willing to use lethal force.

This is the 21st century, John, not the 20th. Everyone watched Operation Cast Lead happen, despite the refusal of Israel to allow media in to Gaza during the exercise.

It's time Israel grew up, recognized that they aren't alone and cannot act toward others without concern for consequences. Israel as a political entity uses the Judaic religion as the tyrannies of the 20th century used Marx - resulting in a dogma that had everything to do with who the people were and what they wanted, and in the end not that much to do with Marx. I consider Israel far more culpable. Rather than appropriating a political idea, it appropriated a people's religion. Despite the problems I perceive regarding religiosity, it is an essential part of many people's lives. Israel robbed them, stole from them what had been ideals, and made of ancient traditions a marketing scheme.

It takes time for consequences to occur. That time has come, and we all are experiencing the results. I would argue that we should; we have no right to be safer than any Palestinian. Nor, if we withhold freedom from others, do we have any right to be free. I speak of "right," and mean to refer to those ideals that we in the US hold, but consider the word to represent a natural phenomena, which requires naming because it exists. People will be free; they will die to be free. Given the technology for one individual to annihilate, with one movement, the known world, minorities cannot be allowed to brutalize others, because the disruption to the social order endangers the entire world.

Anonymous said...

I stopped reading Margaret's predictable screed when she made mention of "Judaic religion" -- not Judaism but "Judaic religion." This is precisely how Hitler referred to Judaism.

The sickness of antisemitism continues to infect Europe without people even realizing it.

Margaret said...

This is precisely how Hitler referred to Judaism. What a b.s. response. I classify religions. This makes me a Nazi or anti-semitic? Such a conclusion is without logic.

Reread what Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said above about discourse.

Margaret said...

Actually, Anonymous 3:04 am, I would like you to explain the logic of your statement, if it was not meant to end the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Margaret,

I suggest you go look up what Hitler meant when he referred to "Judaic religion" instead of simply Judaism. In the future, I recommend you be more careful about your terminology.

Margaret said...

This is a situation, Anon, where I prefer you cite the relevant information, with links. If you wish to make a point, make it. Otherwise, I'll disregard your association of me with Hitler, because it's specious. I'm willing to examine my statements, given cause. You fail to convince.

About Medicine Blog said...

Armed with a cellphone camera and an eye - and a nose - for fresh-baked bread, each informant will relay concrete evidence of the illicit culinary activity to a group of legal activists