Why Israel Needs to Reform Its Kosher-Certification System

Israel’s minister of religious affairs has proposed legislation, currently before the Knesset, that would bring an end to the chief rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher supervision—provoking much condemnation from the rabbinate itself. After presenting a brief history of rabbinic oversight of food production, Shlomo Brody argues that the proposed reforms are likely to be salutary:

In the current system, all food, to receive kosher certification, requires a stamp of approval from the chief rabbinate. Under the proposed reform, multiple rabbinic organizations will be allowed to provide nationwide supervision services, with the chief rabbinate serving as a government regulator of these independent bodies.

The chief rabbinate . . . insists that it is best qualified to run the entire field of kosher supervision in the Jewish state. This claim is undermined by the widespread use of costly “supplementary” kosher-supervision certificates issued by private agencies that have greater public trust and by a scathing report issued several years ago by the state comptroller that highlighted inefficiencies and irregularities in the chief rabbinate’s system.

I, for one, hope that the push for reform will greatly improve the system. It remains clear, [regardless of the details of the current debate], that Jewish law certainly does not mandate a centralized body to govern the nation’s kosher-food production.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy