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      Op-Ed: Expose: Kosher Consumers Supporting Israel Boycotters

      Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012 3:16 PM
      Do you know that the oil certified kosher by a reputable kashrut organization is from countries that boycott Israel? Will you do something about it?


      Inherent in the consumer trust granted to kosher certification agencies is that the certification granting rabbis must be looking out for best interests of the kosher consumer.

      After all, items such as crushed insects that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for food coloring are banned by Kashrut laws. Moreover, a primary responsibility of the Mashgiach is to make sure the kosher consumer does not lack product information supplied by the manufacturer – The Mashgiach must make sure ingredients are not improperly substituted.

      One major Kashrut agency is hiding a secret that would make the vast majority of their customers irate and probably cause a Jewish boycott of all their kosher products. OK Kosher Certification based in Brooklyn, New York, certifies palm oil manufactured in Malaysia and Indonesia as kosher, despite the fact that both those nations boycott Israel.

      I am not questioning the ingredient-dependent kashrut of the oil - that is not the point.

      Indonesia is 86.1% Muslim and refuses to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, claiming establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a prerequisite for normalized relations. Malaysia, which also has no diplomatic relations with Israel, is 60.4% Muslim and its prime minister accuses critics as being “Zionist agents.”

      By advancing the boycotting of Israel, Indonesia and Malaysia are working toward Israel’s destruction. The Arab boycott of Israel dates back to 1910 with the intention of starving out the Jews before Israel could be established.

      In 1921 the Arab Congress for was formed with the specific objective of coordinating all boycotts against the Jews. After the Arab states were formed, it was renamed the League of Arab States, or Arab League as it is more commonly known. Even today, the primary function of the Arab League is their boycott of Israel which they reaffirm in every meeting.

      When Yassir Arafat was negotiating peace with President Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, he was also secretly pushing the Arab boycott in Malaysia.

      It should be no surprise, therefore, that Malaysia and Indonesia both voted for Palestinian membership in UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in a 2011 bid to grant the Palestinians full statehood. Giving a primary export of nations that hate Israel hidden and preferred access to the specialized kosher market is a slap in the case to all Jewish consumers, not just those who keep kosher.

      While kosher palm oil is produced in other nations, once the palm oil gets the OK certification, it can be used by other Kashrut agencies in products that eventually receive the Orthodox Union’s O-U certification among others, all of which only bear the final certification, without disclosing the fact that some ingredients help the enemies of Israel.

      The fact is, if most people knew the palm oil in the food they buy is from nations that boycott Israel, they would simply refuse to buy those products. Why then does the OK certify that palm oil kosher? Why does it use it at all?

       I asked that question and they did not respond. I suspect it is a business decision – palm oil is used as an ingredient in everything from food to lipstick, and demand has been steadily increasing because the cheap labor to produce it keeps the prices down.  

      That, however, is no excuse to boost the economies of Indonesia and Malaysia. Instead, palm oil from nations friendly with Israel, including Columbia and Thailand, should be the nations which kosher consumers support via kosher certification and therefore product purchases.

      Boycotting products and companies which support those who boycott Israel is nothing new. For a time Pepsi products were boycotted by Jews because Pepsi adhered to the Arab boycott of Israel by selling their products in Arab nations, but not Israel.

      The newest manifestation of the Arab boycott of Israel is the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which includes an academic boycott that is essentially the modern version of book burnings, and Internet attacks against businesses owned by Jews regardless if they are in Israel or not. 

      It is the modern equivalent of spray painting “Jude” on store windows. We are facing a modern Kristallnacht and some Jews insist on appeasing those who hate us. As Winston Churchill said, "Appeasement is feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last."

      We as Jews must stand up and demand an end to the kosher certification of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, nations that desire to boycott Israel into economic starvation, thus the destruction of Israel.

      As Hillel was quoted in Pirkei Avot: “Im Ain Ani Li, MiLi? - If I am not for myself who will be for me?”