For Many Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Amazon Has Become the Marketplace of Choice

Fifty-eight percent of the purchases made on Amazon are not from the company itself but from smaller retailers who have permission to sell their wares on the website. Of these third-party vendors, some 15 percent are estimated to be businesses owned by Orthodox Jews, half of which are based in a single Brooklyn zip code. Letizia Miranda writes:

With the expansion of third-party marketplaces online, the bar to entry into the retail business [has lowered considerably]—which means ultra-Orthodox Jews, . . . many of whom lack college degrees, have found careers that balance their religious lives with the modern marketplace. . . . The prospect of building a business on Amazon has led to a boom across the Orthodox Jewish community in New Jersey and New York.

James Thomson, a manager with Amazon Business Services from 2007 to 2013, told BuzzFeed News that he noticed his third-party seller clients were mainly concentrated in only a handful of neighborhoods—Brooklyn, NY and Fair Lawn and Lakewood, NJ—with large concentrations of Orthodox Jews. “Before I left Amazon, some of my clients were Orthodox sellers, and I saw incredibly sophisticated entrepreneurs and saw business models that weren’t taught in business school,” he said. “It became natural that we’d do anything to make sure we worked with them.”

Amazon’s seller marketplace has also opened a new path for Orthodox women to begin their careers in business. There is such a business in Newark, NJ, on the second floor of a nondescript brick warehouse. The front door opens up to a small office with a set of desks in the front for a receptionist, warehouse manager, and accountant, while an Orthodox man types away on a computer. At the other end sits the owner of this multimillion-dollar online business wearing . . . a wig, a modest blouse, cardigan, and knee-length skirt.

For many Ḥaredim, this line of work is particularly appealing because it allows them to shape their workdays around the rhythms of Torah study, daily prayer, Sabbaths, and holidays. Some have even taken to punning on the company’s name, calling it am mazon—rough Hebrew for “it feeds the people.”

Read more at BuzzFeed News

More about: American Judaism, Haredim, Internet

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion