Sunday, November 20, 2005

Treif Crembos and Kosher Dolphins

No time today for a proper blog post. I’ve been stuck all day – and a large part of yesterday, the Sabbath, which is almost unheard-of for me – helping out with a major database conversion project. Tomorrow, I hope, will be easier.

In the mean time, I did notice one news story today which simply demands comment: According to Reuters, Israeli border-control officials inspecting goods entering Israel from Gaza intercepted a shipment of “crembos” – basically, Israel’s answer to Mallomars – with forged certifications of kashrut. The crembos were sent back where they came from.

Despite its seeming triviality, I find this story rather interesting. For one thing, why would someone ship fake-kosher foodstuffs to Israel from the Gaza Strip? The Strip, remember, is now judenrein; who exactly would certify anything cooked in Gaza as kosher? Why would anyone smart enough to run a bakery be dumb enough not to figure this out? Could these crembos be part of some sinister plan to render our border-control officers complacent? Probably not, but conspiracy theories are almost always more interesting than grubby, stupid reality.

But the most interesting thing for me was that this story was reported on the first page of Haaretz’s website. Now admittedly, Haaretz has a pretty crowded home page – so there’s room for a lot of stories there. Still, on a day with lots of local political news, a fair bit of international blood and gore, and lots of other “hard” news, it would seem that a story about chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies was a bit – forgive me for this – fluffy. And yet the editors of Haaretz, a news organization that is not known for its dedication to Israel’s religiously-observant population, saw fit to give a fair bit of prominence to a story about kashrut.

Probably I’m reading too much into this; perhaps Haaretz sees its home page as a sort of New York subway car, where there is always room for one more story. But I’d like to think that this is one of those silly little things that make me love living in Israel. The fact that treif crembos are actually news here – that details of Jewish life are a matter of national concern – is a sign that despite all the internal divisions, despite all the security worries, despite all the other crazy aspects of life here, Israel really is a Jewish state. Hey, Herzl, you were right! Hey, Ben Gurion, look! We’ve done it! We’ve got a country in which stuff like this is news! We may not know exactly what to do with a Jewish state, but at least we’ve got one.

And, on the same home page, I read that Israel is buying two more Dolphin-class submarines from Germany – submarines that are capable of carrying nuclear arms, if perchance we happen to have any lying around. Imagine that! I wonder if they’ll serve crembos on board?

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