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Swine flu scareMexico complains to Israel about new name for swine flu

Published 28 April 2009

Israel’s deputy health minister suggests that, in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, the name “swine flu” should be changed to “Mexican flu”; Mexico launched official protest with Israel, saying the the name Mexican flu was “bothersome and worrying”

Jews and Muslims regard pigs as unclean animals wallowing in dirt, and as a result you will not find pork on the menu in Muslim countries and in Israeli restaurants which advertise themselves as kosher establishments (visitors to Israel would know that even in non-kosher restaurants they are not likely to see the word “pork” on the menu; rather, the euphemism “white steak” is used). It appears that Jewish and Muslim sensibilities about pork go beyond the kitchen table. In evidence: Israel’s deputy health minister Ya’acov Litzman yesterday suggested to call swine flu “Mexican flu” in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork. The Jerusalem Post reports that today, Mexico launched an official complaint to Israel about the suggestion.

Mexico’s ambassador to Israel, Frederico Salas, complained to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that the name Mexican influenza was bothersome and worrying. The Foreign Ministry stressed that Israel had no intention of changing the name of the virus and emphasized the friendly ties between Israel and Mexico.

During a press conference Monday, Litzman said the reference to pigs was offensive to both religions and “we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu.”