Thanks to the Free Market, and to Popular Interest, American Jews Benefit from a Cornucopia of Kosher Foods

Having grown up in a religiously observant Jewish home in the 1960s and 70s, Jeff Jacoby remembers that such commonplace packaged foods as Oreo cookies and Sara Lee cakes were off-limits, since it was impossible to know if they were kosher. Now these are among the many items—40 percent of all packaged food and drinks sold in the U.S.—that bear kosher certification. Jacoby reflects on the radical expansion of what he calls “the kosher-industrial complex” in his own lifetime:

America has undergone a kosher revolution. It wasn’t all that long ago that demand for kosher food was restricted to a tiny niche of the public—Jews amount to less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, and only a minority of Jews keep kosher. . . . The first company to [receive rabbinic supervision] was Heinz, whose canned vegetarian beans began carrying kosher certification in 1923—a distinction the company played up in advertising targeted to Jews. But other companies were slow to follow suit. In 1945, the OU’s kosher symbol appeared on just 184 products made by 37 companies; by 1961, that had grown to 1,830 products from 359 companies—still a mere drop in the food-industry bucket.

Gradually, though, market demand for kosher food was spreading beyond observant Jews. Vegetarians began to see kosher certification on a dairy product as a guarantee that it contained no animal byproducts whatsoever. Muslims, for whom pigs are anathema, learned that the kosher symbol on a package meant there was no pork or lard inside. Other consumers came to associate kashrut with a higher level of purity than U.S. law mandates. . . .

With kosher food as with so many other things, where there is a need, a free market will satisfy it. In the rise of the kosher-industrial complex, all parties have come out ahead. It has generated a vast array of formerly inaccessible options for a small religious minority. It has enabled a key industry to meet a growing market demand and reap billions of dollars in revenue. It has enriched contemporary American culture with one of the most ancient food traditions of all. And it has done it all not through top-down coercion, but through voluntary private cooperation.

What could be more quintessentially American?

Read more at Jeff Jacoby

More about: American Jewish History, American Jewry, Free market, Kashrut, Religion & Holidays

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas