Israel’s Passport to Flavor: Denied!

Kosher food doesn’t have to be inferior food; in fact, sometimes it takes a restricted palette to let an artist achieve his or her true potential. And sometimes it takes a fantastic hot corned beef sandwich.

But in many of the world’s less Jew-y nations, the only kosher options are of fast-food quality. A problem for traveling kosher-observant Jews who are also devoted foodies, for sure. But also, as it turns out, a stumbling block for Israel’s diplomatic corps.

Reuters reports that a request by Israeli diplomats to be allowed to entertain dignitaries at non-kosher eateries has floundered due to the intervention of a religious cabinet minister.

Trade Minister Eli Yishai, a member of the Orthodox Shas party, persuaded the Foreign Ministry not to accept the appeal by dozens of Israeli envoys to be allowed to hold official functions in non-kosher restaurants, Maariv newspaper said.

The squabble gets at an interesting dilemma at the heart of the Israeli state. Even though most Israelis identify as secular, a great deal of cultural and legal power remains in the hands of the country’s Orthodox population.

And that power, it appears, can and will be exercised to make it much tougher for the Israeli delegation to Thailand to organize a really kick-ass night on the town.

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