Challenging AIPAC’s abuse of taxpayers money

Israel/Palestine
on 29 Comments

The Arab democratic spring, striving to end authoritarian rule and establish freedoms and social justice, has not been welcome by all. Israel and its main lobby in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), for instance, appear to have been caught off guard and visibly disturbed by the seemingly irreversible transformations that these uprisings promise to bring about in the Arab world and, to an extent, the world at large.

Having stood on the wrong side of history during the Tunisian and then the Egyptian revolutions, supporting the despots and authoritarian regimes against the people, Israel has a lot to lose from the democratic winds of change in the region. When Hosni Mubarak was about to be overthrown by the people’s revolution in Egypt Israel launched a diplomatic campaign to convince key Western capitals to support him lest stability is lost and Israel’s other tyrannical friends in the region feel abandoned.

In Tunisia, as well, the vaunted electronic surveillance apparatus of the former dictator Ben-Ali was run in close cooperation with Israel, as exposed by Tunisian civil society organizations. With more of Israel’s friends in the region being dethroned, it is becoming abundantly clear how much Israel and its Western partners have invested in safeguarding and buttressing the unelected, autocratic regimes in the Arab world, partially to make a self-fulfilling prophecy of Israel as the “villa in the midst of the jungle” — the myth often repeated by AIPAC. The impact of debunking that myth cannot be overstated. Israel has, for decades, extracted billions of dollars, not to mention diplomatic, political, and scientific support from the U.S. and European states partially based on this misleading image of Israeli democracy, and despite all the evidence to the contrary. A state that has been imposing an occupation regime for almost 44 years on Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, that has denied on racial grounds millions of refugees their UN-sanctioned right to return home, and that is regularly condemned by its chief benefactor and ally, the U.S. government, for its “system of institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its own Palestinian minority carrying Israeli citizenship cannot reasonably be regarded as a “democracy.”

The fact is, U.S. citizens have been bankrolling Israel’s system of occupation, racial discrimination and denial of basic human rights to the tune of billions of dollars annually without knowing what they were funding and why. AIPAC is the main culprit in this process of defrauding the American people, while one cannot ignore the fact that the U.S. military and oil establishments have also stood to gain from Israel’s colonial expansion, endless bloody wars of aggression, and role as the police of the region, preventing popular revolt from threatening the pillage of its vast strategic resources.  

For many years AIPAC has falsely advertised Israel as a democratic state that best serves U.S. interests in a turbulent and unpredictable part of the world, covering up Israel’s suppression of human rights and its very nature as a state premised on fanatic militarism, racial segregation and injustice, contrary to the supposed “shared values” with the “West” that AIPAC has fed to the American public so effectively with its well-oiled media machine and its unmatched power of intimidation as well as suppression of debate and dissent by anyone who dares to slightly step out of line and question the “Israel-first” agenda.

But given that Israel in the last few years, especially since the start of the recent Arab revolutions, has largely and quite demonstrably failed in hindering the outbreak of popular uprisings and democratic transformations in the Middle East, leading pundits have started to raise serious doubts about the taken-for-granted mantra of convergence between Israeli and American interests.

Furthermore, at a time when average Americans are losing jobs, benefits and hope, should the U.S. be spending billions to help Israel maintain its regime of oppression and violations of international law? When schools and hospitals in the U.S. are being closed, and when hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers are mired in endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere, where they sow mass destruction and death among the populations of these countries, while they themselves suffer increasing casualties, should U.S. taxpayers continue to fund this immoral war agenda? Should Israel and its lobby groups be allowed to pull the U.S. into more wars or to continue to justify Israel’s own brutal and patently illegal wars of aggression, as the one against Palestinians in Gaza in 2008-09 and on Lebanon in 2006?

If members of the U.S. Congress dare not ask these critical questions for fear of AIPAC’s wrath – perceived and carefully marketed as invincible – and an almost certain loss of career, shouldn’t the working people of the U.S. pose them and demand accountability and, indeed, democratic regime change?

It is in this context that one cannot but highly admire the courage, creativity and resilience of human rights and advocacy groups in the U.S., like CODEPINK, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace and many others that insist on challenging AIPAC’s domination of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond and its detrimental and deeply corrupting influence over U.S. decision making in general. The CODEPINK-led campaign to “expose AIPAC and usher in a new foreign policy,” to be launched in Washington, DC in May is a badly needed and truly inspiring effort that should be widely supported by all those who care about the cause of justice and peace in the U.S. and, by extension, the entire world.

Omar Barghouti is a human rights activist and author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS): The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Haymarket, 2011)
Take action by attending Move Over AIPAC, a gathering in Washington DC from May 21-24, 2011, to expose AIPAC and build the vision for a new US foreign policy in the Middle East! More information can be found at
www.MoveOverAIPAC.org.

29 Responses

  1. MRW
    May 13, 2011, 7:12 pm

    When Hosni Mubarak was about to be overthrown by the people’s revolution in Egypt Israel launched a diplomatic campaign to convince key Western capitals to support him lest stability is lost and Israel’s other tyrannical friends in the region feel abandoned.

    When Israel did this, my right-wing brother-in-law in Canada, who was enthralled by Tahrir Square and who had been a staunch Israel-supporter, was shocked, then offended. He cut Israel adrift in his mind.

  2. MRW
    May 13, 2011, 7:47 pm

    AIPAC is the main culprit in this process of defrauding the American people, while one cannot ignore the fact that the U.S. military and oil establishments have also stood to gain from Israel’s colonial expansion, endless bloody wars of aggression, and role as the police of the region, preventing popular revolt from threatening the pillage of its vast strategic resources.

    And it is behind the security politics (and enormous dough being made) that have overtaken local law enforcement agencies, the INS (ICE?), the immigration issue, and airports.

    As Jeff Halper said a year ago, Israel and through its US agent AIPAC has brought the I/P situation to the USA, the need to be fearful, and the need to barricade the USA with exotic security measures internally and at the border because there are so many boogeymen out there. (Equating the Palestine issue with Mexico and anti-immigration in US minds is one example of their attempt to gain acceptance for their actions, which they actively introduced with this, when the fact is that Palestinians are not immigrants in their own land.)

  3. American
    May 13, 2011, 8:43 pm

    I wish all Americans would or could read this Congressional report on aid to Israel.
    Despite the fact that it is written by government employee who is well aware how aid to Israel has to be ‘framed and presented’ when requested by congress ,it is so revealing and so damning in the bare facts alone that 300 million heads in the US would explode at seeing what has been sucked out of America and American taxpayers.
    This report also puts the lie to all the Israeli claims of their superior talents creating their great economy, their IT, their weapons, and admits (with reluctance, almost as a footnote) that most of what Israel has in every sector of it’s economy has been drawn from American industry and resources.
    I check for these congressional studies every now and then, this is the last one updated for 2008. None since. The one before, 2006, said Israel was still not a self sufficient country and couldn’t meet it’s obligations without aid.
    It is absolutely unbelievable…we have literally built a nation from scratch, for the Zionist who spit in our faces at every opportunity.
    And there is no end to this in sight.
    And this year we gave Israel their 3 billion, a drop in the bucket really counting all the other stuff you can see in this report that we also give them thru other agencies.
    And this year to reduce domestic spending the budget committee recommended cutting the US domestic program for providing winter time heating assistance to the elderly poor in the US by 2.5 billion….while they fell all over themselves to give Israel 3 billion.
    Gawd….we are so screwed by our own government I don’t understand why we haven’t burned Washington to the ground already.

    link to fpc.state.gov

    • Walid
      May 14, 2011, 2:18 am

      Fascinating and revealing report, American, especially in light of the budgetary cuts to the needy in America. Billions after billions in aid to Israel under many different programs either designated as grants, as joint R & D programs, as immigration relocation contributions, as loans, as loan guarantees and several of those that were converted in midstream to outright grants and various other smoke and mirrors artifices to hide how many and how much in handouts Israel is really getting. I really hated the part of the report that said that whenever Israel’s economy dipped or its recession jumped, the US came to the rescue with special grants in the billions to fix things. Even today as the number of jobless and homeless in the US is on the rise, Israel has no shame in asking for more billions in extra help and the US legislators have no shame in agreeing to give it to it.

      In addition to the billions the US gives Israel for new arms, the report says, “In April 1998, the United States designated Israel as a “major non-NATO ally,” which qualifies Israel to receive Excess Defense Articles (EDA) under Section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act and Section 23(a) of the Arms Export Control Act. DSCA manages the EDA program, which enables the U.S. to reduce its inventory of outdated equipment by providing friendly countries with necessary supplies at either reduced rates or at no charge.” We are told it was under this freebie provision that Israel got and dumped the American 2 million defective cluster bomblets it scattered all over south Lebanon AFTER the cease-fire was agreed to. Added to the free jet and military vehicles fuel it gets from the US, we can understand why Israel is so eager to be at war with its neighbours; wars don’t cost it anything and if they cause a drop in tourism and the economy, the US covers the deficit.

      BThe billions given to resettle immigrants give an idea how much of the settlements expansion program has been encouraged and paid for directly by the US and this doesn’t take into account the tax deductions on the billions sent by Americans to contribute towards the economy in Israel and in the building of settlements.

      We also see how there is no hiding that some of the money is being used to put down Palestinian uprisings and I guess no hiding in accepting to do it by the US either:

      “In 2003, Prime MinisterAriel Sharon requested an additional $8 billion in loan guarantees to help Israel’s failing economy. The loan guarantee request accompanied a request for an additional $4 billion in military grants to help Israel prepare for possible attacks during an anticipated U.S. war with Iraq and Israeli efforts to end the Palestinian uprising.”

      • Jim Haygood
        May 14, 2011, 9:31 am

        ‘Even today as the number of jobless and homeless in the US is on the rise, Israel has no shame in asking for more billions in extra help and the US legislators have no shame in agreeing to give it.’

        Let’s complete that thought. Even though we’ll hear Israel described as America’s best and most reliable friend during the coming AIPAC convention, there isn’t the slightest notion of any reciprocal aid from Israel for the US during its time of need. Nor has there ever been.

        Israel’s sole credible claim to helping the US is in the field of intelligence sharing and security cooperation. But this intelligence is necessitated only by Israel’s provocative role in the mideast, seeking to prop up Arab dictatorships which inspire popular resentment. Israel functions as the closet arsonist who helps demonstrate the value of the local fire brigade.

        In summary, the notion of Israel as a friend and ally of the US is an absurd lie. The relationship is entirely one way: we do the giving; Israel does the taking. At best, what we get in return is cynical, self-serving flattery; at worst, our citizens are executed with bullets like Furkan Dogan, or conked on the head with tear gas cannisters like Christopher Whitman.

        Had enough? I sure have.

      • Ellen
        May 14, 2011, 11:20 am

        Jim, your words should be sent to every member of Congress.

        Sometimes I wonder what it would take to create a class action suit against treasonous members of Congress, or to demand a public hearing and accountability for the facts presented in the State Department report American shared above.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 14, 2011, 11:06 am

        “Even today as the number of jobless and homeless in the US is on the rise, Israel has no shame in asking for more billions in extra help and the US legislators have no shame in agreeing to give it.”

        Exactly. Israel is a parasite and is more than willing to suck the USA dry and discard the husk and search for another host. The shame is that USA permits it instead of burning that tick off its body.

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 12:24 pm

        Thanks for highlighting and summary Walid.
        Good job.

      • Walid
        May 14, 2011, 4:25 pm

        American, Israel’s hitting on the US never ends. I remember it had made another of its “special” grant requests for $2.25 bilion in 2005 to cover the cost of the Gaza pullout, the month before Katrina hit. Olmert out of the goodness of his heart said that he wouldn’t ask the US for the money then but that he’d do it at a later and more appropriate date. We never heard anything more about that 2.25 billions but I’m sure Israel got it just as I’m sure that 6 years later, there are thousands of still unbuilt homes from the Katrina disaster.

        There is something obscene with all this money that is flowing to Israel that has one of the world’s strongest economies while the US is itself suffering. Also obscene is that the US has to borrow and pay interest on the money it gives Israel and an even greater obscenity is Israel continuing to ask for more. These people have no shame.

    • Citizen
      May 14, 2011, 6:21 am

      Totally agree, American, and share your frustration. The regular Americans I know who constantly complain about their political leaders and how they are screwing over the average American because those leaders lack integrity and character–and they are constantly sending out to their email lists examples of same–those people, who have worked all their lives and have been prudent with their income, etc–yes, those people, simply do not connect the dots you suggest. They just don’t get how our foreign policy and foreign aid affect them and the miserable state of the country they so deplore daily. To the extent they respond to me at all when I enter their email exchange lists (with the I-P thing & US enablement & cost to US of same in tax dollars, wars, and public international image of US), they either simply say Muslims want to take away their religion and rights, or they (most) just want to immediately kick me off their list exchanges.

    • Sand
      May 14, 2011, 1:27 pm

      From the 2005 Congressional report on aid to Israel. Noting, we never heard from “Clyde R. Mark” again!

      Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance
      “SUMMARY: Israel is not economically self-sufficient, and relies on foreign assistance and borrowing to maintain its economy.”
      by Clyde R. Mark, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division”

      link to fas.org

      We now have have Jeremy M. Sharp, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, still informing us (nothing has changed!) of the constant billions going to Israel, but does not tell us the basic truth that Mr Clyde R. Mark put down on hard paper.

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 2:14 pm

        Yea.

        This is strictly a tin foil hat game for wondering…but it is a mystery to me how Israel went from needing US billions in economic assistance in 2003 to keep their economy from failing to having budget surpluses a few short years later.
        What happened in between? I can’t find any industry or financial explaination for it.

      • Sand
        May 14, 2011, 2:48 pm

        Yeah, maybe someone else can explain it? — Coz, one thing’s for sure the money certainly keeps flowing (especially military aid)*! And Israel keeps asking for more:

        — Defense Minister Barak says Israel might ask for more aid
        March 8, 2011
        link to jta.org

        — Tomgram: Ira Chernus, The Great Israeli Security Scam
        April 17th, 2011 |
        link to lobelog.com

        “…Defense analysts say Israel spends about 9% of its gross national product on defense, or roughly $17 billion per year. U.S. military assistance accounts for $3 billion of that.

        So the U.S. taxpayer is dishing out about 17 percent of Israeli defense spending this year. (Oh, and look, tax day!)

        Barak told the Journal that, because of regional unrest and uncertainty, he’d like the U.S. to cough up an extra “$20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so.” Taking a generation as 20 years, that averages out to a 33 percent increase per year, pushing U.S. security aid up to $4 billion annually. If Israel’s spending stays constant, U.S. taxpayers would then be footing the bill for about 22 percent of Israel’s defense budget.

        And the uber-zionists wonder why we want to yank Israel’s foreign aid? Israel has no care for the American economy or workers. It’s quite happy demanding our Money (and getting it), while knowing it can continue not to negotiate with its neighbors and to make peace. What a scam!

        * Congress also exempts Israel from the usual requirement that all its military aid be spent on US hardware. The exemption, which allows Israel to spend about 25 percent of US military aid within its own defense industry, has helped make Israel one of the largest arms exporters in the world.

        link to csmonitor.com

      • Citizen
        May 14, 2011, 3:11 pm

        American, here’s an explanation by an Austrian school economist; among the factors discussed are reduced threat of terror bombers, tax cuts, deregulation, cuts in military budget: link to stefanmikarlsson.blogspot.com

      • Citizen
        May 14, 2011, 3:24 pm

        Sand, here’s some more on your input, including the famous Israeli technology sector, especially in any product connected to security or military uses, like all the weapons Uncle Sam gives Israel for free–as soon as Israel gets stuff from the USA they change it, hence they rose up near the top as weapons dealers. China’s bad enough with its total disregard for US patents, we have to get stuck in the back by our wonderful buddy? link to palestinechronicle.com

      • Sand
        May 14, 2011, 3:25 pm

        Blockquote text link:

        — Ehud Barak’s Disappearing Request for $20 Bil. Aid Increase to Israel — April 14th, 2011 (Ali Gharib)
        link to lobelog.com

      • Sand
        May 14, 2011, 3:42 pm

        Citizen: the Austrian school economist seems to be giving a mighty optimist view?

        Just in 2007 Israel was apparently sh**ing bricks with just a small decrease in aid that apparently was going to massively affect their budget plans.

        Hmm… Is their high life of universal health care, and subsidized housing for the settlers really sustainable if it were not for continued US foreign aid to Israel?

        Overstretched US cuts aid to Israel
        link to telegraph.co.uk

        “…The diversion of [US military 'funds' to Iraq] has caused a budget shortfall in Israel that forced Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, to convene an emergency cabinet meeting yesterday.

        Officials discussed ways of dealing with the £250 million deficit in next year’s budget, which Israeli commentators said would result in austerity measures.

        More worryingly for Israel, there are fears the shortfall will have a significant impact on the ability of the country to defend itself as military training and procurement are cut back.

        The tension over the delayed American money has tarnished relations between the two countries, which were boosted only last week when Israel confirmed it would enjoy a surge in American defence aid of 25 per cent over the next 10 years…

        And Israel is “self-sufficient” eh?

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 3:59 pm

        Huummm…..I don’t think I buy his explainations of
        increased security, less defense spending and free market.

        I tried to find something in the Financial Times or the Economist or the CS Monitor or WSJ on this mystery but haven’t found anything.

      • Sand
        May 14, 2011, 4:51 pm

        “…we have to get stuck in the back by our wonderful buddy? …”

        Noting, Israel has been caught in the past passing on sensitive military technology to Chinese. The question is — are they still doing it — when they have to maintain their competitive edge, especially now, for example, they’re no longer bff with Turkey?

        “…The Israeli industry must sell about three-fourths of what they make to remain viable – it’s hard for them to be choosey. Our dialogue with them has been about how they can be a more choosey seller. [Beth McCormick - Bush's Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) and deputy undersecretary for technology security policy (2008)]

        link to defensenews.com

  4. Thomson Rutherford
    May 14, 2011, 12:47 am

    I want to praise Mr. Barghouti’s excellent article and work in another comment below. First, though, still keeping within the topic of AIPAC power, I would like to mention that as I am reading Barghouti’s article at the moment I happen also to be watching a lecture on UCTV (the U. of Ca. TV channel) entitled “Kosher Nation”, delivered by Sue Fishkoff and based on her book by that name. I am hearing more about kosher than I’ll ever need to know.

    The title appears to be deliberately provocative. A theme of her talk is that dietary practice can and should be used to help keep Jews separate from the rest of Americans, an instrument of cultural counter-assimilation. “Kosher Nation” doesn’t refer to the American nation, of course; it refers to
    a Jewish nation within a nation.

    According to Ms. Fishkoff, America a hundred years ago , near the peak of Jewish immigration, used to have the ideal of the “Melting Pot” – and Jewish Americans used to share in that ideal. But now, she claims, the American societal ideal is the “Mosaic”, which she explains means multicultural identity.

    Ms. Fishkoff stated, “My grandmother used to say ‘I’m an American.’ But I say, ‘First I’m a Jew; then I’m an American.'”

    Under the influences of, among other places, Jewish Studies departments mushrooming at colleges all across the country, most Jewish Americans now want to be regarded instead as American Jews. The “American” part is definitely subordinated.

    This transformation of Jewish Americans into American Jews is one of the most significant societal consequences of Zionism. It has accompanied – and in fact was necessary for – the explosion of the political power of AIPAC and the Israel Lobby during the last half-century.

    For the benefit of us all, let’s hope that most American Jews can find a way to transform themselves back into Jewish Americans.

    • Citizen
      May 14, 2011, 6:46 am

      TR, in the US, everybody gets to be a “nation within a nation” in an ethnocentric sense except the dwindling group, the current, but not future majority, non-Jewish “whites.” The result is that soon there won’t be any pot to melt into, just a salad without a bowl. Or, maybe, for future metaphor purposes, the pot will be a latino pot? Whites will start to identify themselves as Americans secondarily too. If they hyphenate, what will be the adjective to the noun American? Or, the noun just changes, with “American” being its adjective. As white privilege vanishes,
      those who’ve been “passing” as whites for the privileges, will now increasingly declare their separate classification. And whites will be looking for an old family tree member who was of any ethnic extraction except white. The USA is theoretically a “proposition nation.” And we have a history of increasingly making this so by force of law. But our culture appears to be now trending to the mixed tribal salad. Tribes are not known to sit happily in a common bowl made of paper.

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 12:43 pm

        That’s what the US has already devolved to in most ways.
        All the ‘personal identity” loyalty instead of “soverign identity “loyalty
        applied to politics and government by people and groups jockeying for power for their separate interest.
        What they don’t realize is it’s the kiss of death for any nation and they are destroying the very democratic safeguards that allowed them to come and flourish here.
        We haven’t yet though had the mainstream WASP really enter this tribal fray in any active and noticable way.
        Beware the day when the WASP have to chose between their tribe and their country.

    • American
      May 14, 2011, 2:05 pm

      The Kosher thing is partly a racket.
      A friend of mine owns a mid size food product company, relishes and condiments, that is mostly a regional Southern operation where Jews aren’t plentiful. But like all companies market share is everything, particularly in food products, so he bought a “Kosher certification” for that 1% of 1% of Jews that might be customers. Supposedly the Rabbis come and inspect his plant…but they don’t. The Kosher thing reminds me of what I read in Solzhenitsyn’s going back in the history of the Jews in eastern Europe when since usury and other financial aspects were different in the Jewish culture from the Christian, the Jews became the tax collectors for the Crowns and their payment was whatever they added on to tax collections from the peasants for the various Queens or Kings as their commission. The mafia should have thought of this deal. Can you imagine what Coke or General Mills pays for their Kosher certification.
      One thing I am curious about in light of the huge Jewish meat packing company scandal in which the owners are now in prison for all kinds of animal handling and employment violations…where were the Kosher inspectors since they are suppose to be ‘inspecting’ all their clients?
      I also wonder why since there are only 6 some million Jews in the US and not all of them keep Kosher why Jews themselves didn’t create their own small kosher food industry and companies to sell to the Jewish market …….more profitable to skim or piggyback on the whole industry? They say their non profit profits are funneled into ‘community organizations”…would that be strictly Jewish community organizations?
      And tax free as a non profit to boot.
      If anyone wants to start a new food religion I see some big opportunities here. LOL

      link to msnbc.msn.com

      Says Kosher firm Lubicom, it even includes certain foods — such as chocolate Easter bunnies—that many Jews might never eat. Says Sue Fishkoff, author of Kosher Nation: “Today, one-third to one-half of the food in a typical American supermarket is kosher.”

      The business of becoming kosher remains tightly regulated by certification agencies. Such groups are built around the work of a mashgiach — a hybrid of a Talmudic scholar and a Food and Drug Administration inspector who supervises food production to ensure everything is kosher. That means overseeing the slaughter and cooking processes of meat and fish, ascertaining that each ingredient entering a plant is inscribed with the hechsher, and keeping kosher food production separate from that of non-kosher food.
      As the desire for kosher products has grown, so has the mashgiach business. “The number of certification agencies has exploded,” says Rabbi Yosef Wikler, editor of Brooklyn-based Kashrus Magazine, which tracks the kosher certification industry. “Thirty years ago there were 18, but now there are 1,063 kosher certification organizations around the world. In America alone there are 600.” Wikler estimates the U.S. kosher certification business is now a $200 million-a-year industry.
      At the top of the kosher food chain is Manhattan-based OU Kosher, a division of the Orthodox Union, a kashrut powerhouse that supervises and certifies production in more than 6,000 plants in 77 countries. It employs 75 full-time mashgichim and a small army of advising rabbis. While the OU’s stamp appears on everything from AriZona Iced Tea drinks to Nabisco cookies and Tootsie Roll candies, its real growth comes from the phenomenon of trickle-down koshernomics. An ingredient supplier hoping for a contract with a kosher-certified Big Food outfit must first submit to the strictures of kashrut. “It’s a domino effect,” says Rabbi Moshe Elefant, OU’s executive rabbinic coordinator and chief operating officer. “When you have Pillsbury or General Mills going kosher, you’re talking about thousands of ingredients made by hundreds of companies in thousands of plants, each of which needs to be certified.”
      The process doesn’t come cheap. Companies that make a single product with an approved list of kosher-certified ingredients require only a few inspections per year. Factories that make both kosher and nonkosher products in the same plant — or those that develop new products from numerous ingredients — require extra supervision. This can involve weekly or even daily inspections that drive annual costs into the hundreds of thousands. Brooklyn’s OK Kosher, OU’s fiercest competitor, certifies 20 new companies each week, many of which are ingredient producers. Rabbi Chaim Fogelman, a spokesman for OK Kosher, estimates the agency is growing at around 15 percent annually.
      As a result, supermarket shelves now groan under the weight of kosher offerings. A recent addition, James Tea, a maker of tea concentrates in Painesville, Ohio, converted this fall after being courted by a kosher-certified whiskey brand to make an alcoholic tea. Faced with the choice to certify his own product or risk losing the business, James Tea owner James Kekelis paid Cleveland Kosher just over $2,000 for a hechsher and rushed to open a booth at Kosherfest.
      As the food industry’s supply lines have spread globally, the business of kosher certification has followed the diaspora. Kosher agencies currently compete to certify artificial flavors in Thailand, canned tuna in the Philippines, packaged olives in Egypt, and a staggering number of additives in China.
      Those in charge of kosher certification point out that, despite the industry’s growth, most organizations remain nonprofit. While 90 percent of OU’s funding comes from kosher certification fees, profits are funneled back into community organizations.

      “Kosher agencies aren’t making billions,” says Rabbi Elefant, holding up the lapels of his rumpled suit. “If we were making billions, I wouldn’t look the way I look.”

      Copyright © 2011 Bloomberg L.P.All rights reserved.

      • Walid
        May 14, 2011, 4:48 pm

        When you talk about Kosher certification, it brings to mind the Agriprocessor kosher meat packing plant that was raided by the Federal Govt in Potsville, Iowa in 2008 that had 400 illegals on its payroll. How’s that for patriotism?

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 7:19 pm

        Yea, that’s the one I was thinking of…why weren’t the Kosher inspectors inspecting that plant?

      • annie
        May 14, 2011, 8:08 pm

        they were allegedly inspecting the plant. read Rubashkin Scandals.

        Agriprocessors, the Rubashkin family’s Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse, was found to be in violation of Humane Slaughter guidelines after PETA released an undercover video showing cows’ throats ripped out with a meat hook and cows writhing on the floor, trying to get up and run away after shechita.

        Long video.

        Short video.

        In December 2004, FailedMessiah.com exclusively reported Orthodox rabbis, kosher supervision agencies and kosher industry mouthpiece (and paid Agriprocessors’ consultant) Menachem Lubinsky – led by Agudath Israel of America – met with senior USDA officials in Washington on October 23, 2003, one year before the PETA videos were made public. In this meeting, the rabbis claimed USDA directives outlawing “sawing” by the religious slaughters would be wrongly used to stop all kosher slaughter.

        more at link

      • Citizen
        May 15, 2011, 7:53 am

        Update, annie:
        Sholom Rubashkin – who was sentenced at the low end of the US Sentencing Guidelines – has shown no remorse for what his illegal immigrant employees were hired to do to the poor animals, and for how other employees of his applied fraudulent labels to his products in his plant, the largest glatt kosher operation in the world; he still refuses to cooperate with law enforcement, and has allowed his attorneys and spokespeople to lie about the judge, the court and the prosecutors while playing the antisemitism card. Shouting “anti-semites, selective punishment!” Not hardly, See link to failedmessiah.typepad.com

        Rubashkin’s appeal case for a lighter sentence is headed for SCOTUS.
        Free Rubashkin, free Pollard! Why’s everybody always picking on us Jews just for being Jews? There’s worse criminals around, why don’t you go after them?

  5. MRW
    May 14, 2011, 5:13 am

    Saturday NYT frontpage:

    Cities Nationwide Heighten Vigilance on Terror
    By DON VAN NATTA Jr.
    Although there are no known specific or credible threats, counterterrorism operations have increased in case a “lone wolf” or a small group of terrorists attempts a reprisal.

    Class-A BS, unless they decide to cock one up for us.

    See my post above at MRW May 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm.

  6. Citizen
    May 14, 2011, 10:16 am

    The US says it resolutely opposes any direct or indirect use of its taxpayers funds to support terrorists, chiefly Hamas, Hezbollah, and the state-sponsor, Iran. There’s the adage, “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.” The world sees what many Americans do not, which is that Israel is a terrorist state, daily by its use of adminstrative/police methods, and every so often, directly by use of massive glaring force, e.g., OP Cast Lead. The pre-state Jewish Zionist forces set this rolling terrorist bald hard ball down the shute before, during, and after they put on the helmet of state, especially during the years 1947-1948. Here’s the scoop, including a daily timeline: link to wrmea.com

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