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May 17, 2013

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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 17, 2013 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (JTA)-- The thickscent ofapeppery rub wafted through the Margolin Hebrew Academy and Corky the Pig embroidered his chef's hatwith a K and became a cow. Just before Purim, the famed Memphis barbecue joint Corky's, with a hog for its mas- cot, koshered one of its smokers for abrisket fundraiser on behalf of the city's Orthodox Jewish day school. Organizers explained that the unusual marriage of brachas and BBQ was a product of a parlous economy, a small school in need of refurbishing with a limited fundraising base and the laid-back traditions of a "Shalomy'alr'SouthernJewish way of living. "We need to find any revenue we can," said Rabbi Gil Perl, the school's dean. "We asked ourselves,'Dowehaveaproduct herevaluableenough for alarge market nationally?'" In Memphis, one answer to the question was barbecue, and one of the best answers was Corky's, a top-rated eatery with three branches in the city. In a town known for offering .the best in barbecue, Corky's is routinely cited in national best-of lists. It also happens to be owned by the Pelts family, which is active in the local Jew- ish community. An@ Woodman, the son- in-law of founder Don Pelts, now runs the restaurants with brother-in-law Barry Pelts. Woodman sent his kids to Margolin. The problem, as anyone scanning the Corky's menu would see, is that the preferred flesh among Memphis barbecue aficionados is of the porcine variety. You've got your smoked sausag~and cheese plate, which Corky's wait staff eagerly offers as the preferred opener. You've got your pulled pork salad. You've got your pork ribs, regu- lar and large--opt for the latter and you can'sample half a rack dry, half a rack wet. And in case you missed the point, atop the menu, grinning from under a chef's hat, is Corky himself, a pig. (Legend has it that Don Pelts was an unre- constructed fan of the 1980s film "Porky' s.") Dena Wruble, the Margolin parent who came up with the Corky's idea, was undaunted by the prevalence of pig on the menu. Sometime in'the 2000s, she recalled, Don Pelts purchased a new smoker and before its inaugural use on a pig, lent it to the school for a brisket barbecue. Perhaps that could be replicated? A new smokers can cost $10,000--that wasn't in the offing. Woodman had another idea: Kosherasmokeralready in use and donate it to the school permanently. Woodman com- mitted the koshering to film. "Next time you're in town, you'll have to see it, it's pretty funny," he said in a phone interview. "We lit it up with Sterno and put wood in the chamber. We had to get it up to 700 degrees. It almost melted. The racks did melt. We had to buy a new set of racks." The smoker ready, the par- ents committee set about seeking kosher brisket. They exhausted a supply in St. Louis and had to call Atlanta for more. For sales, they put out the word through social media; orders came in from as far afield as Los Angeles, New Jersey and Toronto. One buyer made inqui- ries about how best to pack the meat for an Israel trip. The smoking and prepara- tion took place on campus, with Corky's staff in place. Pefl recalled the nonplussed reac- tion of the religion reporter for the Memphis Commercial Ap- peal, who arrived on campus to cover an unrelated story and saw a truck plastered with a big smiling pig. "I almost felt bad having that in my driveway," Pefl said. "Almost." In honor of the occasion, Woodman converted the Corky figure to a cow and plastered a K on his chef's hat. No one bat- ted an eye, Woodman and Perl said; Memphians are easygoing folk, including the 8,000 Jews among them. Corky's The original Corky's logo featuring a pig next tothe kosher version of the logo featuring a cow. "I know, it's funny, a Jewish family owns a pork barbecue place," he said. "But everyone has always been extremely welcoming." In any case, the kosher cow is familiar to Memphis Jews from the occasional Jewish event catered by the family-owned business. "Some of the promotions. also had a line through the pig," Woodman said. The res- taurant's prize-winning sauce is certified kosher. Pefl said replicating Corky's pork-smoking techniques on brisket fit into a longstanding tradition. "We Jews have learned how. to imitate every other part of [secular] life, so why not this, too?" he asked. In the end, the enterprise brought in $100,000 in revenue, netting $20,000 for the school's sorely needed rehab. "Someone came in during the smoking," Perl recalled. "He said, 'Your school doesn't look too good, but it sure smells good.'" By Michael Curtis Brussels as the headquar- ters of the European Union is the nominal "capital of Europe." One would expect the city to be the center of enlightenment--the exempli- fication of political and social tolerance and freedom of speech, assembly and religion, not to mention an advocate of human rights. Disappoint- ingly, recent events have shown that Brussels has increasingly become a place of lies, deliber- ate disinformation, political manipulation, anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel. Recent developments, par- ticularly Islamist political as well as physical aggressive- ness, justify this sad conclu- sion. One is the election in November 2012 of two Muslim politicians of the new Islam Party, Lhoucine Ait Jed- dig and Redouane Ahrouch, Caregiver loolang [or work wi h dclerly, to hwin. t e son, ble r es. 407-310-9135 Friedman & Friedman Excellence in Real Estate "One Team. Twice the Knowledge, Service and Experience" who won seats in two of the 20 municipalities of Brus- sels, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and Anderlecht. Consider- ing their unqualified stated objective to make Belgians understand the advantages of having Islamic people and Is- lamic laws, theirassertion that "then[,] it will be completely natural to have Islamic laws andwewill become an Islamic state" is quite chilling. The Islam Party intends to continue running candidates in future Belgian and Eurol e- an-wide elections. It is likely to gain further successes be- cause of demographic changes in the country. Calculations suggest that Muslims in Bel- gium now number 625,000, more than six percent of the total population. Brussels contains 300,000 Muslims-- more than a quarter of its population. It is now the larg- est Islamic city inEurope; by 2030 it will, according to the sociologist Felice Dassetto in her book "The Iris and the Crescent," probably have a Muslim majority. The heavily Muslim-pop- ulated districts of Brussels have become troubled areas, experiencing a considerable increase in crime, including about 250 gang rapes a year since 2007. For some years, these areas have been arenas of violence: in the riots of September 2009, the Muslim inhabitants attacked the Belgian police with Molotov cocktails, stones, and tear gas. Among other consequences of this violence, the U.S. advertising,agency BBDO in June 2011 left its offices in the Molenbeek district of Brussels after stating that there had been more than 150 assaults on its staff. Other multina- tional corporations left the area for similar reasons. Simultaneously with its declaration that its ultimate goal was to establish Shariah law in Belgium, the Islam Party issued three main immediate demands: halal meals in public "cafeterias, national recognition of Mus- lim holidays and insistence that all women publicly wear hijab coverings. The danger of that ultimate goal of the Islamic extremists has now been recognized publicly in March by the Belgian foreign minister, Didier Reynders. He made a point of saying he was not critical of moderate Islam views butwas calling for more monitoring of the messages that some ima ns in Belgium, about 300 of whom obtain state subsidies, are preaching in their mosques. He drew attention to those imams or other types of preachers "who adhere to more salafist and fundamentalist views, or who support radical movements, instead of having more moder- ate views." Reynders, member of the Mouvement R forma- teur, the largest Francophone party in Belgium, described his personal encounter with Islamic intolerance. When he and other Belgian officials met in April 2012 with Abdel- lah Benkiran, the Muslim Brotherhood prime minister of Morocco, the latter refused to speak with Reynders's col- league, Annemie Turtelboom, the Belgian minister of justice, because she is a woman. Reynders is conscious of the same problem in Bel- gium. Muslim leaders have refused even to shake hands with women, including a local mayor, or to mix with women in public transport. The problem is immediate and growing. In Antwerp, a majority of elementary school children are Muslims. The most common name for boys born in Belgium dur- ing the last few years is Mohammed. The country has witnessed an increase in the number of mosques and minarets, more veiled women in public, and more extreme salafist Islamic organiza- tions. The Muslim politicians and imams want to implement Islamic Shariah law through- out Belgium. In Antwerp, since Septem- ber 2011, Belgium has had its first Islamic court, founded by the extreme group Sharia- 4Belgium. The court consists of a self-appointed number of Muslim judgeS applying Is- lamic law, superseding secular Belgium law, on marriage, divorce and child support is- sues. The court's ambition is to expand its jurisdiction to include criminal cases. Sharia4Belgium itself active inAntwerp in harassing people, shouting anti-Ameri- can and anti-Israeli slogans, and distributing Islamist leaflets. Its leader was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for incitingviolent protest against non-Muslims in the streets of Brussels, and other members have been arrested for posses- sion of illegal drugs. Though it is not altogether clear, the group appears to have dis- solved itself in October 2012. The European Court of Hu- man Rights in a case in Febru- ary 2003 ruled that "Shariah law is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracY." A legal regime based on Shariah law "would diverge from the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly with regard to the rules on the status of women, and its intervention in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with reli- gious precepts." Shariah law is incompatible with universal human rights, and w ith demo- cratic values of separation of politics and religion, equality of the sexes, the rule of law and freedom of expression in all its forms. The Islamic upsurge and militancy in Belgium has also been both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel in character. Jamal Ikabzan, a member of the So- cialist party in parliamentwho is originally Moroccan, called for the removal of Hamas from the European list of terrorist organizations and referred to Claude Moniquet, an experton counterterrorism who heads the European Strategic Intel- ligence and S ecurity C. enter, as "Zionist scum." Evenworsewas the publica- tion in March of an anti-Se- mitic poster, a cartoon created by the French graphic artist Zeon, to advertise a debate on Zionism planned by the Socia[ist party in the Brussels district of Molenbeek. The car- toon evoked the anti-Semitic caricatures and blood libels in the Nazi tabloid Der St rmer of Julius Streicher. It depicted an Israeli soldier wearing the mask of an ultra-Orthodox Jew who was tipping the scales of justice and thus dominat- ing the world. Indeed, Alain Destexhe, the Belgian Liberal Party senator who first com- plained of the cartoon, called it"worthy of Nazi propaganda about the all-powerful Jew." To their credit, the Brus- sels district leaders heeded Destexhe's condemnation and canceled the event. The inci- dent is even more poignant be- cause it coincided with a more gratifying event in Brussels, where President Shimon Peres of Israel honored members of 11 families as Righteous among the Nations for saving Jews during the Holocaust. Brussels and the demo- cratic world in general face an intensifying dilemma: Can the Islamistambition to instill Shariah law in their lands be contained before it is too late? Michael Curtis is Distin- guished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers University, and author of the forthcoming book, "Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation Under Assault by the International Community.'.