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Recipe for hate

ADL Special Edition, January 1991
A periodic update from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai
B’rith — Civil Rights Division

Anti-Semitic Recipe for Hate

The “Kosher Tax” Hoax

“The Kosher Food Tax is the biggest consumer fraud existing in

The bizarre claim by right wing extremists that kosher
certification markings on food labels (“U,” “K,” etc.) cost
consumers extra money and represent, in effect, a “kosher tax”
to make rabbis rich, is a striking example of the propaganda
used by anti-Semites to trick the uninformed into accepting
conspiracy charges and stereotypes about Jews.

Other anti-Semitic allegations regarding kosher designation on
foods include charges that “the kosher food racket” benefits
Jewish organizations while only a small segment of the
American population desires such markings, and that even the
meanings of the labels are guarded secrets deliberately kept
from non-Jews to trick them into paying the “kosher tax.”

The Facts

Attacks on the labeling of food with the symbols for
_kashruth_ (traditional Jewish dietary laws) have been a
standard ploy of anti-Jewish bigots in the U.S. for decades.
Such symbols as [encircled U], emblem of the Union of Orthodox
Jewish Congregations (UOJC), among others, confirm that
products are kosher — i.e., that foods and production
processes have been inspected by competent rabbis from the
respective organizations and found to be in compliance with
Jewish dietary law.

The cost to the consumer for this service is a miniscule
fraction of the total production overhead; it is so negligible
in practical terms as to be virtually non-existent. A May 18,
1975 New York _Times_ article reported that the cost to
General Foods’ “Bird’s Eye” Unit, for example, is 6.5
millionths (.0000065) of a cent per item. Furthermore, a
representative of the Heinz Company has said that the per item
cost is “so small we can’t even calculate it,” and that such
labeling actually makes products less costly by increasing the
market for them.

Indeed, according to marketing manager Steven Zamichow, quoted
in the Washington _Post_, “Entenmann’s Inc. received kosher
certification in 1981 and sales of [its] baked goods
‘increased substantially.'” Visits to the Entenmann’s plant,
from a “mashgiach,” or kashruth inspector, are provided by the
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. The UOJC is
one of several groups that maintain such a kosher inspection
service, certifying foods and related products to be in
compliance with Jewish dietary laws through all phases of
production. The profit from these products goes, of course, to
the companies that manufacture them and the stores that sell
them, not to “the Jews.”*

The Lies

The most active right wing extremist sources of the “kosher
tax” hoax are various Ku Klux Klan groups and the National
States Rights Party, based in Marietta, GA. The Invisible
Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (now based in North
Carolina), through its Empire Publishing, offers a pamphlet
titled “The Kosher Tax Swindle” to its members and supporters.
The pamphlet begins:

“American families are paying tribute to Jews every time
they sit down at the table to eat and in many instances,
polish their shoes, silver or wrap the leftover Thanksgiving
turkey. Why? Because Jews have discovered a way to coerce
business to pay taxes directly to Jewish organizations and
pass the cost on to the consumer.”

The racist and anti-Semitic National States Rights Party
(NSRP), founded in 1958, became a focal point of violent
opposition to civil rights struggle in the South and has
functioned as both a propaganda mill and a political party.

The party’s founder, Edward Fields, has served as its National
Secretary, as well as the editor of the party’s hate sheet,
“The Truth At Last” (formerly “The Thunderbolt”). Fields was
also the Grand Dragon of the now-defunct New Order, Knights of
the Ku Klux Klan.

“The Truth At Last” published a special issue in June 1990
which dealt only with kosher symbols. Articles appeared in
this edition with such titles as: “Six States Make Rabbis
Kosher Policeman [sic],” “Secret Kosher Tax Boosts Food
Prices,” “How Kosher Blackmail Works,” and “Kosher Tax Symbols
May Be Changed to Hide Swindle.”

“Describing” kashruth, Fields has written that “All of this is
superstitious nonsense and has absolutely nothing to do with
improving the quality of any food product. Still, this clever
scheme of requiring kosher labeling has become a multi-million
dollar business today!” Another article in “The Truth At Last”
asserted that the “kosher tax” is paid to Orthodox Jewish
organizations “just so an estimated 10% to 20% of Jewry will
buy their products,” and that “we are all forced to pay this
Kosher Tax just to appease LESS THAN ONE PERCENT OF THE

Bigotry Over a Beer Label

With the recent announcement that the Adolph Coors Brewing
Co. will carry the [encircled U] symbol on its beer, Hans
Schmidt, founder of the California-based German-American
National Political Action Committee (GANPAC) took it upon
himself to write a protest letter to Peter Coors, President of
the company.

Schmidt, who was a member of the Hitler Youth and claims to
have served in the Waffen-SS during World War II, has been a
leading proponent of Holocaust “revisionism” in the United
States for many years. Following along the lines of many other
anti-Semites, Schmidt promotes the myth of “Jewish control” of
banks, the media, and the government.

In his letter to Peter Coors, Schmidt asserted that “as
someone of German descent you ought to be ashamed to acquiesce
to this scheme. You must know that the Jews in the aggregate
use a lot of the finances thus gathered to spy on non-Jews, to
terrorize others (JDL), to ruin other people’s businesses
(numberous Jewish organizations and individuals), and to
promote their political power to the point where this country
has been subservient to the needs of another nation (Israel).”

Schmidt also repeated the usual false charges regarding kosher
symbols, including that “there usually are great costs and
efforts connected with the kosher certification and that
rabbis will make upwards of $450,000 from Coors.” In a
post-script Schmidt made the suggestion that Coors add the
following symbols to its label: “a symbolic fish for
Protestants,” “a Catholic cross for Catholics,” and “a
Swastika for Nordics/Odinists.”

Beating the “Tax”

Some extremists call for a boycott of foods and companies that
succumb to the “kosher conspiracy.” For example, in an April
25, 1990 newsletter published by the Populist Party, a
far-right political group, chairperson Monica Rorhig states:
“God knows we are taxed enough already without volunteering to
tithe to a foreign country and a foreign philosophy. It’s a
kick to walk out of a grocery store knowing you have
successfully evaded this illegal tax.” Ms. Rorhig explains
that through such means as this alleged tax, “we (as a nation)
are being carefully herded closer and closer to International
totalitarian tyranny.” Pamphlets, in groups of 5-100, are
offered through this newsletter for Populist Party members to
circulate and spread the warning against this “unfair taxing.”

“You Don’t Have to be Jewish…”

Contrary to the anti-Semitic charge that kosher labeling is a
tightly guarded “Jewish secret” kept from Christians and
others, it is not only Jews who prefer to purchase kosher
food. According to the Washington _Post_ (Sept. 27, 1990),
“Some kosher marketing officials estimate there may be as many
as six million Americans who seek out Kosher foods in the
supermarket. Of these only 1.5 million are Jewish. Moslems and
Seventh Day Adventists also adhere to certain aspects of the
Jewish dietary laws, but the bulk of Kosher shoppers appear to
be consumers who believe the Kosher certification…means
higher quality food.”

Yet whether or not they choose to purchase kosher food
products, most Americans will reject the bigotry inherent in
the “Kosher Tax” propaganda, recognizing it as another effort
by extremists to exploit legitimate public concerns (e.g.
taxes, the economy, etc.) as vehicles for anti-Semitism.

*In the separate case of kosher meat and poultry purchased at
kosher butcher shops (as distinguished from the broad general
range of mass-market consumer goods certified kosher), the
consumer does pay a higher price. This cost is due to the more
intensive, continuous rabbinical supervision required for the
exacting technicalities of kosher slaughter and inspection,
processing, storage and quality of kosher meat — an
inescapable necessity for this particular product, applicable
only to its limited market, not the general consumer.