Ending the Israeli Rabbinate’s Monopoly on Kosher Certification Will Strengthen Religious Observance

Currently, the Jewish state gives the chief rabbinate the exclusive right to certify restaurants and packaged foods as kosher. But a bill now before the Knesset would reform this system, allowing some degree of competition. David Stav, a prominent Israeli Orthodox rabbi, makes the case for such changes:

Rabbinical services and those aspects of Jewish life that are defined by our ancient traditions must be transparent and open. It is for this reason that this reform is so important for the very future of our Jewish nation and for Judaism in general.

[The current] centralized system by definition leads itself to inefficiency and, sadly, even corruption. A widespread presence of such irregularities was the conclusion of a comprehensive report on Israel’s kashrut industry issued several years ago by Israel’s state comptroller. . . . [W]hen you have a system with no competitors and limited oversight, it is only natural that it will lead to cutting corners, improprieties, increased costs and, unfortunately, a truly broken system.

It is also well worth pointing out that many within Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community recognize this, and even the very individuals who are involved with overseeing the rabbinate’s kashrut don’t trust it when it comes to the foods they will eat. Israel’s High Court has found that the current system is problematic because of the existence of illicit compensation relationships between business owners and supervisors.

In business, no one would accept such a scenario. So it is hard to believe that the people of the Jewish state should accept it when it comes to one of our most important and sacred traditions.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Judaism in Israel, Kashrut, Knesset

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy