Jeffrey Horowitz, writing for The Atlantic's new food channel, gives a great rundown of the ultra-Orthodox Israeli Deputy Health Minister's refusal to call a swine a swine. The Minister, Yakov Litzman, has said, while chomping on freedom fries, that Israel will call swine flu "Mexican flu" because, of course, pigs aren't kosher (boy would he hate Corby).
Who cares what they call it...beside the fact that it's generally ridiculous, the virus is now transmitted by humans not swine, and that crazed stances like these lead to pork shops being "firebombed out of certain neighborhoods"? Horowitz makes the argument that the general refusal to acknowledge a porcine presence in Israel makes for unregulated hog farming practices, the exact kind that are now being questioned at Smithfield Foods in Mexico. He concludes:
By refusing to recognize the source of the problem and regulate irresponsible farm practices in Israel, future swine viruses could emerge from Israel, and could wind up bearing an Israeli moniker--a much more humiliating prospect.
UPDATE: Israel's not the only one that's got beef meat-related issues with the name of the disease. The other objector: the U.S. pork industry.
(image from flickr user David Blaine under a Creative Commons license)