Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Teves 5761 - January 24, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Democracy: Governments and Mad Cows

by G. Milgrom

During these days when Israeli democracy has reached an all- time low, Israeli citizens can get an idea of how a democratic nation should be run just by reading newspaper reports from other democratic nations.

In Germany, for example, two government ministers recently resigned, stirring only slight public interest. They held themselves responsible for a major failure and drew the obvious conclusions on their own.

Prior to their respective resignations harsh public criticism was lodged against the Agriculture Minister and the Health Minister over the Mad Cow Affair. Criticism of the Health Minister focused on the discrepancy in advisory notices she issued regarding German frankfurters. On one occasion she declared Germans could eat local frankfurters freely, but then she later warned against eating frankfurters not subject to Ministry inspection. This flip- flop cost the Minister her job.

The Germans, of course, were not pleased; the frankfurter is too important a food item for Germans to be uncertain of whether or not they can eat it with peace of mind. They expected an unequivocal announcement from their Health Minister. In a democratic nation like Germany, the public is unwilling to accommodate government flip-flopping. A minister who swerves back and forth is considered unworthy of handling affairs of state.

The Agriculture Minister, on the other hand, was forced to resign when, despite strict supervision over the country's cattle, nine diseased cows were discovered. He was not accused of any specific acts of negligence. But in a democratic country, when the cows are sick, whoever is in charge of them has to head home, regardless of the question of who is responsible for the outbreak of the disease.

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