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Still Waters

Israeli pig-farming kibbutz draws religious

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Still Waters
A female pig by the name of Barbie lies anaesthetised on a bed, a pulse monitor clipped to her snout as it pokes out from under a blanket

Staff in blue medical scrubs crowd around her, examining an image of the inside of her colon, shown on a computer screen above the bed.

Unusually in the pig world, Barbie was raised by Jews.

Researcher Sharon Goldfarb-Albak strokes the animal's head tenderly.

"I love pigs! The Bible says don't eat pig, so I don't eat pig, but that doesn't mean I can't pet them and make them my friends," she says.

Kibbutz Lahav is a controversial enterprise in Israel, the world's only predominantly Jewish state.

Eating pork is prohibited under Jewish dietary laws, and to many Jews the pig has a deep cultural symbolism representing all that is unholy.

Raising pigs for pork has been banned in Israel since 1963, apart from in a small, traditionally Arab-Christian area in the north of the country.

But the kibbutz maintains vehemently that the primary purpose of its herd is for medical research, which makes the operation legal.

However, it also has a factory, in which it processes excess animals, and those raised to provide organs for research, to be sold for meat.

And when the day's medical trial - testing of equipment for screening for colorectal cancer - is over, some of the researchers tuck in as the institute's manager doles out plates of sizzling pork chops from a barbecue.

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They save the pig then bring out pork chops? That is just wrong on so many levels

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