"Body Worlds" museum exhibit

Question: Why are the Ultra-Orthodox and the Chief Rabbi trying to prevent the exhibit "Body Worlds," which is an exhibition of preserved human bodies from German citizens who donated their body for this purpose, from appearing at the Israel National Museum of Science in Haifa? Two petitions against the exhibit are already making their way to the High Court of Justice, and Ultra-Orthodox leaders in the country vowed to stage mass rallies against it. Rav Yona Metzger – the Chief Rabbi - unequivocally ruled that "such an exhibit has no place in the Holy Land, and I therefore recommend that you don't get involved in this…The Jewish people, who take great care to honor and bury their dead, must extend the same treatment to non-Jewish deceased, so as not to prompt animosity and hatred towards the Jewish people." The Chief Rabbi further wrote that in the event that such an exhibit was to be held in Israel, "Our outcry would reach the ends of the earth." What is Ha-Rav's opinion?
Answer: If the Chief Rabbinate has already ruled that it is forbidden, it is forbidden. They are the ones who decide. A discussion of this issue is not really connected to embalming. Embalming is done to honor the deceased so that the body does not decompose. According to the Halachah, embalming is forbidden. Authorities permitted it in the rare case that the deceased was being brought from far away – such as being brought to Eretz Yisrael – and there was a fear that the body would reek and decompose. This is the explanation of why Yosef embalmed Yaakov Avinu. Embalming is only to honor the deceased, but embalming a corpse to exhibit it in a museum is shaming the dead. The same strictures do not apply to non-Jewish corpses as they do for Jewish corpses, as Maran Ha-Rav Kook explained in Shut Da'at Cohain (#199): Just as a Jew has many strictures in life, he also has many strictures regarding his burial. There are many disputes regarding a non-Jewish corpse: if it is permissible to have benefit from a non-Jewish corpse, if there is a prohibition of "Bal Talin" (leaving the corpse unburied overnight), if there is a prohibition not to bury the corpse at all, if there is a prohibition of having an autopsy, etc… Many authorities permit an autopsy on a non-Jewish corpse for medical purposes and they rely on all of the lenient position, since medical needs are life-saving. But there is no medical need here! It is therefore not possible to rely on the lenient positions. Some people say that the goal of the exhibit is to teach the proper balance of one's body and proper health practices, and that this is a medical need. It is possible to compare them, but they are not the same. A medical student needs to learn on an actual corpse (although some argue that it is possible to learn on a plastic model), but there is no need for an actual corpse in order to teach the general public. In our days, it is possible to make excellent plastic models and they are even less expensive than using real corpses.