The Danger of Salamiphobia

My apologies, in advance, to anyone offended by this satire regarding the very tragic situation we now face. Sometimes sarcasm is the last serious way to respond to a completely absurd state of affairs.  Links are provided to help the reader navigate between fantasy and reality, even as it becomes harder in these times to distinguish between the two…

The two national security analysts were huddled over a table in the White House basement, trying to decipher the intent behind a series of terror attacks that had recently shocked the world and grabbed the headlines.

“What motive could possibly explain why a violent madman would barge into a kosher grocery store, shooting customers and taking hostages? Maybe this is just an isolated incident…”

“That’s not good enough, Jack; our job here is to connect the dots. The Commander in Chief, as well as the entire American people, are counting on us to determine the root cause for this apparent wave of criminal incidents. Where have we seen something like this before?”

“Don’t you think this was caused by Islamic extremism, or at least old-fashioned anti-Semitism?”

“Jack, that’s just too obvious and simplistic to be correct… Besides, no serious scholar has found any link between the peaceful religion of Islam and the widespread terror we’re seeing now.”

“Well, maybe this is all just due to mental illness? How about workplace violence?”

“Been there, done that my friend…  This time we need to come up with better, deeper explanations than those we provided before.”

“Well, I remember that other kosher restaurants were attacked in Israel in the last decade…. Back then it seemed like there was an attack on a restaurant or a market practically every other day.”

“Indeed. Come to think of it, I remember that another kosher restaurant in Paris was attacked 25 or 30 years ago…  Jack, I think that we have found the pattern here. Time to brief the Commander in Chief.”

At that point, the advisers went to advise the President on the cause driving the fanatics to commit their crimes. “Mr. President, we have determined that each of these isolated incidents are linked by a common motive: an irrational, baseless fear and hatred of kosher food products in general, and of kosher delicatessens in particular. We are terming this new phenomenon salamiphobia“.

Soon, the White House engaged in a concerted campaign to denounce salamiphobia as the source of the recent spate of senseless attacks.  The President forcefully proclaimed, “The future must not belong to those who slander the profits of Osem!”  Within days it was revealed that much of the recent violence was instigated by a rogue video mocking the kosher food industry.

The amateurishly produced video, called “The Innocence of Macaroons“, was the work of one Noshele “Marc” Snackeley Noshele, a well known and virulent anti-kosher activist. The Attorney General wasted no time in sending Mr. Noshele off to prison for a parole violation, based on a prior conviction for food product mislabeling (that occurred back when Mr. Noshele worked as a disgruntled pig farmer in Postville, Iowa).

Soon, the press secretary was circulating dossiers describing the work of America’s most notorious salamiphobes:

  • Frank N. Furter – his dossier describes him as “once a Washington deli insider, but now a rebel commonly spotted at food trucks around the city”. There are rumors, not yet substantiated, that Frank N. Furter is somehow linked to former congressman Weiner.
  • Robert Fresser (a.k.a. “The Big Bobka”) – Fresser is the editor of the infamous site, which declares as its mission to warn the public of the intrinsic dangers from deli meats. “I’ve never said that everyone who eats at delis is a bad person, just that deli meat itself contains preservatives that are generally considered to be harmful. Why is this even considered controversial? Just read the product labels!”.

His many critics, however, deride Mr. Fresser for lacking the requisite academic training and technical expertise needed to correctly interpret the esoteric meanings encoded in deli meat labels.  “I have spent the last 30 years staring at my salamis, and this little Fresser wants to claim he’s an expert?!” huffed Don Juan Esperanto, the esteemed Professor of Love, Language, and Luncheon Meats at Georgetown University. “Who is this guy to come along and explain to me the difference between paprika and pancetta?  Indeed, I have no better way to demonstrate my love of life, liberty, language, and lunch than by continually expressing my endless contempt for Robert Fresser.”  After he muttered that last insult, Professor Esperanto ran off clutching a knockwurst in his right fist, determined to prevent his little sausage from falling into the vengeful hands of some sadistic salamiphobe.

  • There is also Fresser’s well known associate, Paulina “Panama” Kveller. The sultry Central American, who comes across as an unlikely cross between Sophia Vergara and Ayelet Shaked, has continuously denied that she is a salamiphone. “Ay yay yay! Who is doing any hating? I am always kvelling!” she retorted.  Panama continued, “Don’t hate the meats – just love the salads!  Stay free and healthy, mi amigos!!”

Soon, other politicians were joining in the struggle against salamiphobia.  Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg suggested limiting all sales of macaroons to smaller boxes, in order to prevent further outbreaks of salamiphobia fueled violence, and thus keep the Jewish People safer and healthier (at least until next Passover, when macaroon consumption is expected to spike).

Another leading academic, Jack Schmearfinder (Professor of Bagel Studies at the University of Chicago), published his view that salamiphobia was the work of a nefarious “Pork Lobby”, leading a subversive campaign against America’s national health needs.  “Nobody has managed to divert Americans away from healthy eating as successfully as the Pork Lobby has”, he lectured.  “The evidence is everywhere – everyone wants to sell me a McRib these days, but why can’t I find a pound of nova lox for my bagels?  Nu?”

Federal law enforcement agencies did their part by investigating rumors of a shadowy network of underground, and potentially violent salamiphobic extremists, known as the “counter-deli” movement.  However, all they were able to uncover were groups of guys who enjoyed hanging out at deli counters.  Meanwhile, leading civil rights organizations like the SPLC (“Salami Packers Labor Commission”) and the ADL (“Association Against Deli Lynching”) did great work launching campaigns to alert the public about the dangers of letting rabid salamiphobia infect American society.  Citizens were invited to Lunch and Learn gatherings to dispel false notions about the dangers from consuming too much corned beef and pastrami.

Of course, there was some push-back against these progressive efforts.  Hillary Clinton, in particular, was lambasted for accusing salamiphobes for triggering recent riots, which had in fact been the work of anti-dairy activists.  “Milchik or fleishik, what difference does it make?  Who really cares, at this point, if we mix up milk and meat when confronting an issue as serious as anti-kosher agitation?” she retorted.

Over time, even the Arab world was forced to acknowledge and discuss the reality of salamiphobia.  Palestinian Authority spokesman Abu Hazir briefed foreign journalists on his view of the issue.  “Just like we can’t be anti-semites because Arabic is a semitic language, we also assert that, by definition, we cannot be salamiphobic.  We believe that the word ‘salami’ is derived from the Arabic phrase ‘Ma Salamaa‘ (goodbye) and nobody enjoys saying ‘Ma Salamaa‘ more than I do – especially to the Jews.”

When asked, in a follow up question, whether it was reasonable to oppose both salamiphobia and Zionism, Abu Hazir affirmed that this was his belief.  He exclaimed, “Indeed, even if every Jew leaves we hope that all of the kosher delis in Palestine will remain.  Every Palestinian plans to save enough room for a nice Reuben.”  An aide later clarified that the PA spokesman was only referring to the sandwich, but not to any people actually named Reuben.

At last, a group of major world bodies – the UN, the EU, the OIC, and NATO, along with the NBA and the NFL – convened a world conference to eradicate salamiphobia.  They eventually arrived at a consensus decision – to put worldwide kashrut supervision in the hands of a new UN body, the Terrestrial Regulators for Eaten and Ingested Foods (TREIF).  A representative from Iran or Saudi Arabia was invited to chair the first session of the new regulatory committee.

Although Israel protested, most world leaders rejoiced at a historic opportunity to eliminate a newly discovered social plague, and at the same time perhaps pick up a Nobel Prize or two for their efforts.  The President of the United States, as was his predilection, waxed poetic about this latest accomplishment: “Today, whenever a bubbie buys bagels in Brooklyn; when a Chabadnik hunts for hummus in Hong Kong; or while a rabbi returns for more rugelach in Ramat Gan, each of them can feel secure in the knowledge that the kosher food industry will be surrounded by TREIF.”

About the Author
Gary Kulwin is a software engineer living in Florida with his wife and kids. He lived in Israel in 1985-1986, and worked in Jewish communal service in 1993-98.
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