Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kosher??? From Arthur Waskow:

Unkosher meat, unkosher politics

The Rubashkin meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, which has been the biggest supplier of allegedly kosher meat in America, has violated many moral, ethical, and legal codes of conduct -- American and Jewish. It has tortured the animals it is supposed to kill painlessly and has exploited its workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants who were fearful of complaining. It has even had the chutzpah to collect union dues from some workers and then pocket the money instead of passing it on to the unions.

Rubashkin is under serious criticism from major parts of the Jewish community. Yet even some who have called for a boycott of this unkosher meat have praised the Rubashkin family's "charitable" donations. Leave aside the fact that any such donations come from the super-profits made possible by oppressing humans and animals alike; when I asked for evidence of those charities, I was told only they were claimed by those within the family's (Lubavitch) community , and that some signers of the boycott call would not sign without it.

Finally the Federal government has stepped in.

To do what? To imprison hundreds of allegedly undocumented workers and - with rare precedent - to charge hundreds with criminal offenses rather than, as usual in such situations, simply deporting them. As for the owners - so far, no action at all.

Perhaps this failure of Federal authorities to act against the wealthy violators while destroying the lives of the powerless workers is rooted in the conventional deference to the rich. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Rubashkin family has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to one political party - the one that happens to be running the Federal government at the moment. (Maybe these are the undocumented charitable contributions?)

In any case, this needs to change. I hope that many many of you our readers, of ALL religious and ethical traditions and beliefs, will write your local newspapers not only to support a boycott of this meat - unkosher in every sense - but also to press that Federal authorities take vigorous action against the owners to the full extent of the law, while dropping criminal charges against workers caught in this oppressive bind.

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