The ADL and the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax: Fact and Fiction ( Part 1 )
For many Gentile consumers, it comes as a shock to realize that they pay a Jewish tax on each and every pre-packaged food item with a “U” or “K” stamp on the package, with some of these fees possibly going to support Zionists in Israel. The Union of Orthodox Jews (symbolized by the “U” within a circle) and the Circle-K (for Kashruth or, Kosher) are the two main organizations within the United States that issue Kosher-certification and its accompanying tax, though there are 273 other Kosher-certification organizations that have other symbols within the U.S. alone.(1)
The ADL (or Anti-Defamation League), an offshoot of B’nai B’rith that got its start after the Atlanta chapter head of B’nai B’rith was arrested and convicted by a jury of murdering a 12-year-old girl, Mary Phagan, in a cruel manner,(2) has long since countered Gentile resentment towards this Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax. Typically, the ADL says that such resentment towards the extra fees paid on food for the rabbis’ certification is the hallmark of anti-Semites. While it stands to reason that in some isolated cases this may in fact be true, there is a growing concern among many others over these extra fees that Gentile consumers are forced to pay, particularly with the downward trend of the economy.
In an article called “The Kosher Tax Hoax,” the ADL sought to allay many Gentiles’ fears and concerns over the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax. However, upon reviewing the “facts” presented by B’nai B’rith’s ADL, one quickly sees that it is filled with outright lies or, at best, half-truths.
From the beginning of the ADL’s article, it suggests that it is false that “only a small segment of the American population desires such markings, and that even the meanings of the labels are guarded secrets deliberately kept from non-Jews to trick them into paying the ‘kosher tax.’”
If you are a typical non-Jewish reader, it is easy to see that both these statements are true, not false as the ADL claims. Have you personally desired such markings? And, if it is not a “secret” of sorts, why do they not display a symbol that makes it clear that a fee is indeed paid to a Jewish organization for Kosher certification?
Lubomyr Prytulak, a retired Canadian psychology professor, has long argued that a Star of David (or, Magen David, as it is often called) should also accompany the Kosher certification to make its meaning well known.(3) This makes sense, and it would be more fair to Gentile consumers, most of whom are unaware of the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax. If the ADL and Jewish organizations were genuinely concerned with honesty, they would have done this long ago.
Jewish organizations do not necessarily seem to be concerned with honesty in this matter, however. In some advertisements of products bearing “K” or “U” symbols in magazines, these symbols will often actually be “hidden” or “masked off.” However, when these same items are advertised in Jewish publications, these symbols might actually be larger and have an arrow pointing to them.(4) This is, of course, deceptive advertising and goes to show that there are concerns among Jews or the companies that sell these Kosher products of the meaning behind these symbols becoming known.
While the ADL suggests that the claim “only a small segment of the American population desires such markings” is an anti-Semitic lie, the truth speaks otherwise. In fact, according to the Kosher-certification agency Star-K, “Integrated Marketing Communications reports that approximately 2.5 million Jews consume kosher food products.”(5) So what about the other 297.5 million people in the United States? Why are we then forced to pay for their Jewish religious dietary habits; why are we forced to pay for the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax?
The ADL argues that “the cost to the consumer for this service is a miniscule fraction of the total production overhead; it is so negligible in practical terms as to be virtually non-existent.” Is this true? I certainly would have no problems if Jews wanted to certify products as being Kosher or not at entirely their own costs.
As you might suspect, such talk by the ADL is either an outright lie on its part or, at best, deceptive. For example, the ADL report cites a “representative of the Heinz Company.” This “representative” reportedly said that the cost is “so small we can’t even calculate it.” This Heinz “representative” also said that the extra business it received more than made up for the costs associated with the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax. Who was this “representative”? If what he stated was true, why is his name not even given in the ADL’s article for verification? Did this person even exist?
Quite to the contrary of the ADL’s article, the Canadian Jewish News of March 20, 2003, has an article with an interesting headline: “Heinz Canada trims kosher product line.” Many of the Canadian Heinz’s products were no longer to be certified Kosher (thereby avoiding the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax, symbolized by Canada’s “COR” – Council of Orthodox Rabbis’ marking), although a few products would still be kept Kosher for Jews. Apparently, according to (named) Heinz spokeswoman Anna Relyea, this was done to “keep costs down while continuing to provide [some] kosher products to our customers.” The reasons–given by Heinz for the decision to cut back its on its Rabbinical Kosher Excise Taxes–were due to “how complex the manufacturing is, what the savings were and so on.”(6) In any event, these costs–that were initially reported by the ADL as being “so small, we can’t even calculate it”–could, in fact, be calculated and must have been significant.
Another item that seems to be deliberately distorted in the favor of the ADL is a reported “fact” given by the Birds Eye company. According to the ADL’s article, General Food’s Birds Eye unit paid only “6.5 millionths (.0000065) of a cent per item.” It would be more interesting to know how much General Foods itself paid in real dollars altogether for the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax, but the ADL avoids such talk for obvious reasons. But is the paltry sum of .0000065 cents per item true?
Again, this seems like a deliberately deceptive move on the ADL’s part (or that of one of its members who was employed at Birds Eye). Does anyone really believe that a rabbi would fly to Birds Eye foods if he only received 6.5 cents for each $1 million of business Birds Eye did? If Birds Eye did, say, $100 million in business, that would be a paltry $6.50 in fees by the certification agency. This wouldn’t even pay for the time involved, let alone travel and paperwork. So is the ADL lying? Probably not. If you’ll notice, it says “.0000065 of a cent per item.” I believe that Birds Eye sells corn, peas, pieces of broccoli, et cetera. In effect, the ADL’s “informer” was probably meaning that every single piece of corn, every single pea, and every single bean–that is, every “item”–incur the cost of .0000065 cents. Added up, this then makes sense.
Of course, if the Jewish agency that charges the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax would care to make available how much it charged this company in real dollars for the previous year, that would be a start to being honest. But, if you carefully examine the web, you will not find one company that has reported this fee paid to the rabbis. Why is this? From a logical standpoint, it stands to reason that the rabbis must have some type of confidentiality agreement in which if the company reveals its cost it is then penalized to a certain extent. What other reasoning could there be that not one single company discloses its costs associated with the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax?
The ADL then goes on to cite a company that reportedly had its business increase as a result of Kosher certification. Is this true? Possibly. One must keep in mind, however, what Dr. Prytulak refers to as the “Pyramid Scheme” at his website. In effect, this is how it works: A large company is courted by Jews, who fill the company’s heads with promises of a greater market appeal–but only, of course, if they pay this initially “small fee” (in comparison with the company’s total business) for certification. The company agrees. However, now the company must buy all its supplies from other “Kosher companies.” Aside from the obvious need to purchase food products from Kosher suppliers, a company might even have to purchase the steel for its manufacturing process and the cleaning supplies from Kosher companies, to name just a couple other items now considered Kosher. In any event, if the suppliers do not give the main company a Kosher product, the company cannot do business with them. (After all, products prepared by lowly Gentile companies do not meet the Jewish religious dietary standards as set forth by rabbis without due compensation.) In effect, if your company happens to be one of the suppliers to another company, you risk much business by failing to abide by the Jewish standards (and, of course, paying them your accompanying fees).
Is the extra business really there for companies that decide to go Kosher? Not according to some businesses. The Albuquerque Tribune reported one bagel company as wanting to be certified Kosher, but “the expense was more than the … bagel company could muster.” The owner stated, “We occasionally get asked for it but not that often.” Another company decided to drop its “Star-K certification after one year.” The owner of that company reported, “Kosher wasn’t opening up any markets for me. I thought it was too much for my little operation.”(7)
As you might expect, later in the ADL’s article, it spends a significant amount of space questioning the “motives” of those who question the motives of the Rabbinical Kosher Excise Tax. Since the ADL cannot obviously refute the content of the argument, it has to resort to attacking the organizations and people who bring forth legitimate arguments against an illegitimate tax that Gentile consumers are forced to pay, which is unknown to the vast majority of them. Of course, the ADL itself has a few skeletons in its closet, so to speak. Books such as “Conspiracy Against Freedom” or “The Ugly Truth about the ADL” (available from http://www.addall.com/used ) tell much of the stories kept behind the headlines.
( To Be Continued )