Israel’s flu name change goes too far

Israel’s flu name change goes too far

Swine flu is quickly becoming the media’s next go to panic story, stoking fears of pandemic. Many countries have put out special travel advisories and are cautioning citizens to avoid travel or be extremely careful.
However, one country where you won’t hear the words swine flu, is Israel. Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said that Israel will call it the Mexican flu.
Under Jewish law, pigs are unclean and pork is a forbidden food. Thus, a disease called swine flu would seem unkosher as well. Litzman is hoping that the name change will avoid offending observant Israelis. Did Israelis actually complain to Litzman or the Israeli government? Were people actually offended because they would have to call the disease swine flu?
Did Hindus call mad cow disease mad farm dweller disease? No.
We understand that pork is generally not eaten in Israel, although there are stores in Israel where you can buy pork products. Yet renaming the swine flu might be taking things a bit too far.
Sure, measures can be taken to avoid offending people and to protect your country, but then there is just being over the top and ridiculous.
Swine flu is not something Israelis will be serving for dinner or looking to purchase at the store. In fact, Israel has had only two documented cases involving Israelis who have been to Mexico.
For these two cases, Litzman is creating quite a stir for Israel. The name change to the Mexican flu has been picked up by news agencies all over the world.
On message boards, Israel is being ridiculed, but Israel needs positive publicity. Following the Israeli-Gaza conflict and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s continuing anti-Israel tirade at Durban, the last thing Israel needs is to give people more reason to talk about it in a less than positive light.
On Tuesday, Mexico filed an official complaint against Israel, saying that the name change to the Mexican flu was bothersome and worrying. Israel and Mexico currently enjoy friendly ties; we hope things won’t change.
We don’t know why Litzman acted so quickly to let the world know that Israel has changed the name of the illness. But Litzman should realize that people will continue to get sick regardless of what you call the flu.