Yesterday the RCA issued a statement including their holdings on principles of halakhah, public interest, kashrut supervision and the rights and responsibilities of consumers.Â Their conclusion reads:
In the matter of recent allegations against Agriprocessors and its company policies, the RCA is certainly concerned at news reports published to date. But both Jewish Law (Halacha) and civil law require a presumption of innocence by all parties, including the concerned public, as well as an understanding of the broad implications involved on all sides, until the facts will have been clarified, especially in a case that is as complex as the one at hand.
It’s clear that the RCA is trying to protect their own hold in the heksher-for-profit industry and keep a middle ground.Â Â Reading their statement I was a little taken aback by their rationale in needing to protect the Jewish public:
Without necessarily impugning the current motives of various parties involved in any given dispute, we must keep in mind lessons learned during the course of the long history of unwarranted attacks on kosher slaughter practices in Europe and elsewhere, carried out by groups with agendas of their own.
In this connection one can raise for consideration whether or not the laws of the land, in themselves entirely legal and proper, have been consistently enforced, or whether a particular group or company has been singled out for such enforcement or legal action.
So is the RCA suspecting that the media is out to get Agriprocessors because they are Jews?Â Am I reading this correctly?Â Since we had problems in Europe with people spreading lies about the practice of kosher slaughter (read blood libel and Nazi propaganda films, perhaps?), then maybe we’re experiencing the same thing in America?Â Singled out because they’re kosher?Â What reality do these rabbis live in?Â It seems to me most of the flack they’re taking right now is coming from Jews, no?
In the United States of America, it is believed that just over 20% of the population specifically purchases kosher food in the grocery store.Â There are around 6 million Jews in America, out of 303,824,646, that makes us a little more than 1.5%Â We all know that the math just doesn’t work.Â There aren’t enough Jews who specifically purchase kosher food to sustain the corporations that lend their emblems and symbols to our packaged products.Â 80% of the kosher food market is not purchased by Jews.Â Some are probably Muslim, or perhaps even vegetarians or vegans.Â Most, for whatever reason, seem to be Americans who actually think that kosher food is healthier.
The statement calls that only after improper practices are found
“the kashrus agencies should review their relationship to the businesses involved. Such review should consider, and balance, all of the relevant factors, including
a. The nature, severity, and frequency of the infractions involved. Who was responsible for them – ownership, management, a failure in oversight by government or other supervisory agencies?
b. The likely impact on kosher consumers of continuation or discontinuation of supervision, including the availability and cost of the products in question.
c. The likelihood of continued improper activity by the company, versus its willingness to improve its record going forward in verifiable fashion.
These rabbis recognize that an overwhelming percentage of this market has no dedication to the kosher industry short of their marketability.Â The statement warns consumers to
be wary of any group that would seek to exploit the kosher food industry, or any particular company, based on ulterior motives of an economic, philosophical, or even religious, nature. Here the principle of caveat emptor, in its broadest meaning, applies.
Emphasis is my own.Â BTW, do you think they mean Jews?
And in more important news: while workers get sentenced in the immigration case that transpired from the raid on the Rubashkin plant, execs walk free (surprise, surprise).