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Joseph Ben-Ami: Rebuttal
"I understand that retired psychologists have nothing better to do with their time, but if this is the burning issue that Mr. Prytulak would have us believe, then perhaps he might make his case a little more cogently." Joseph Ben-Ami (who at the time he wrote his rebuttal was employed in the meat department of an Ottawa Loblaws supermarket)
Some ways you could give editor-publisher Link Byfield of The Report Newsmagazine your thoughts on the material on this page:

EMAIL   [email protected]
PHONE   (780) 486-2277
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MAIL    17327 106A Avenue NW,  Edmonton, Alberta, Canada  T5S 1M7



First A Peek Behind the Scenes

Following publication of Kevin Michael Grace's Is this kosher? in The Report Newsmagazine of 08-May-2000 (but actually released more than a week before that date), I sent two emails to the editor-publisher, Link Byfield, as reproduced below, worrying that I was going to come under attack without being given a chance to reply.  Link Byfield did not respond to either email.

Following the publication of a surprise attack upon me by Joseph Ben-Ami in his Rebuttal (which is reproduced at the bottom of the present page) in The Report Newsmagazine of 05-Jun-2000 (which I found online on 26-May-2000), I sent further emails to Link Byfield, which as of the evening of 03-Jun-2000 have also gone unanswered.

Updates to this affair will be published here as events unfold.  I have as a first step enquired of the Albert Press Council whether it accepts complaints concerning The Report Newsmagazine, and was informed that it does not because The Report Newsmagazine is not a member of the Albert Press Council.

I respond to the
Kevin Grace article
"Is it kosher?"



Please allow me to defend myself
My email of 12-May-2000

Link Byfield
Editor-Publisher
Report Magazine
[email protected]

Dear Mr. Byfield:

The normal course of events following Kevin Grace's kosher article (which, paradoxically, is both innocuous and courageous at the same time) would be for the appearance of a reaction condemning the article, condemning Kevin Grace, condemning the Report, condemning me, and condemning my Ukrainian Archive web site.  If the Report is planning on publishing any such reaction, and if I am libelled in it, then I would think that the Report would be obligated to give me an opportunity to respond.

I don't care what attacks are published about me or about my Ukrainian Archive web site, so long as I am afforded the opportunity to defend myself.  Such give and take are part of the exercise of free speech which we in Canada are for the time being still permitted to enjoy.  However, in the event that misrepresentations are made about me or the Ukrainian Archive web site and I am not provided the opportunity to reply, then I would consider myself injured and the situation actionable.  Furthermore, if any aspersions are cast upon the Ukrainian Archive web site, then an integral part of any defense would be my repeating the address of the web site, www.ukar.org, so as to afford readers the opportunity to verify for themselves whether there was more merit in the criticisms or in my replies.

Therefore, if the Report plans to publish any reaction which reflects negatively upon me or upon the Ukrainian Archive, I would appreciate being supplied with a copy of this reaction so that I can provide my reply to be published alongside.  My intention is not in any way to interfere with or suppress anything being said about me, but only to answer it.  I expect that the Report would provide me with this opportunity not in order to avoid being sued, but in order to satisfy journalistic ethics.  In preparing such a reply, I would be considerate of the reputations of both Kevin Grace and of the Report which have behaved admirably in writing and publishing the kosher article, and are deserving of no blame.  Rather, in writing and publishing Kevin Grace's kosher article, both Kevin Grace and the Report have demonstrated remarkable courage and probity, and I have no doubt that in the end courage and probity will receive their reward.

Yours truly,
Lubomyr Prytulak
[email]

Am I to understand that there will be no attack?
My email of 16-May-2000

Link Byfield:

I take it from your failure to reply to my email of 12-May-200, which I reproduce [above], that the Report does not plan to publish any further discussion of the Kevin Grace kosher article, and that therefore the question of my being afforded an opportunity to defend myself against libelous statements does not need to be discussed?

Lubomyr Prytulak
[email]


I respond to the
Joseph Ben-Ami ambush
"Rebuttal"



I am ambushed, and offer a brief reply
My email of 26-May-2000

Link Byfield:

Re: The Ben-Ami "Rebuttal" at:

http://207.34.57.66/MAGAZINE/rebuttal.html

The Ben-Ami rebuttal mentions "Prytulak" seven times and "Grace" four times, from which I infer that it is mainly an attack on me.  As long as I am afforded an opportunity to defend myself, I take the Ben-Ami attack together with my defense as part of the normal and healthy give-and-take to be expected in a democratic society enjoying a free press.

Happily, I am not addicted as Ben-Ami is to pointless rambling, and can say everything that needs to be said in a fraction of the space that he occupied.  I could certainly itemize each of Mr. Ben-Ami's errors and misrepresentations, and I will do so if you ask, but my preference is to be brief and to the point, and to not put my readers to sleep.

Although I am ready to listen to suggestions for revision, I do not agree to having my already-brief defense shortened or edited without my permission.

Regards,
Lubomyr Prytulak


Letter in reply to Mr. Ben-Ami:

Mr. Ben-Ami takes a great deal of space emoting his disagreement but what exactly does he disagree with?

I am for demystifying kosher labelling.  Is Mr. Ben-Ami, then, for maintaining the status quo in which almost all consumers are unaware that the majority of their supermarket purchases have been kosher-certified?

I am for informing the consumer what kosher certification costs him.  Is Mr. Ben-Ami for maintaining the status quo in which the consumer does not know, and has no way of finding out?

I am for the consumer being informed which meat on his supermarket shelf originates from Jewish ritual slaughter.  Is Mr. Ben-Ami for maintaining the status quo in which Jewish-ritual-slaughtered meat is sold alongside meat from conventional slaughter, with the consumer being given no way to distinguish the two?

I am for Mr. Ben-Ami making representations about the financial independence between the Council of Orthodox Rabbis and the Canadian Jewish Congress only if he can inform us that these organizations have authorized him to do so.  Have they, or is Mr. Ben-Ami just guessing?

I am for the public learning my position by reading my own words on the Ukrainian Archive at www.ukar.org.  Mr. Ben-Ami, I venture to guess, is more comfortable in a world in which the public learns of my views through his misrepresentations.

Lubomyr Prytulak

Hello!  Anybody there?
P.S. to my email of 26-May-2000

P.S.  I would appreciate being informed of whether you intend to publish my self-defense or not, because if you do not intend to publish it, I will want to immediately open up a discussion on the pages of the Ukrainian Archive of the question of why the Report allowed me to be attacked and yet is not allowing me to reply.

Please review my accuracy and fairness
My email of 28-May-2000
(The "web posting" alluded to below is the present page.)

Link Byfield <[email protected]>
Editor-Publisher
The Report Newsmagazine

Link Byfield:

I invite you to review my web posting at http://www.ukar.org/benami01.html for accuracy and fairness.  I will delay linking to this posting from the home page of the Ukrainian Archive until noon on Monday 29-May-2000 on the possibility that you will have something to offer which will require revision on my part.  Rest assured that at the very least, any response you make will be posted on the Ukrainian Archive complete and unedited, regardless of its content or its length.

I bring to your attention that you have not afforded me the same consideration that I am affording you.  That is, I asked you to inform me of any statements damaging to me that you intended to publish, so that I might be able to offer my defense to be published alongside to which request you neglected to reply.  Following your publication of Ben-Ami's defamatory article, occupying a full page and including his photograph in color, I asked you to publish my brief reply (expecting no photograph, it goes without saying), to which request you have similarly neglected to reply.

I find it most unfortunate that after you demonstrated exemplary courage and commitment to truth and regard for the public interest by publishing the original Kevin Grace "Is this Kosher?" article, you have begun to behave so badly in three respects: (1) disparaging the Kevin Grace article as "not well-reported" when in fact no defect of this article has as yet been discovered; (2) publishing Ben-Ami's irresponsible statements seemingly without demands for relevance or logical consistency or corroboration of allegations, one might conjecture without serious editorial review; and (3) denying the target of Ben-Ami's attack, myself, the opportunity to defend myself.

I look forward to your reversing what appears to be your intention to give me no voice on the pages of The Report Newsmagazine so that my waning faith in the integrity of that magazine can be restored, and so that I am released from the burden of having to drain my meager resources in continuing requests for fair treatment.

Lubomyr Prytulak




Joseph Ben-Ami is one of the most ignorant, scatterbrained, and irresponsible writers that I have ever had the displeasure of reading.  That editor-publisher Link Byfield of The Report Newsagazine was persuaded to publish an article of such abysmal quality as Ben-Ami's will ever strike me as incredible to the end of my days.  My attempt to understand such a marvel of bad judgment on Link Byfield's part leads me to suppose that he refused to disclose the Ben-Ami article to me prior to publication, and refused to allow me to respond, because although he was aware of the low quality of the piece, and although he had nothing to offer in its defense, and although he was at first ashamed of planning to publish it, and later more ashamed of having published it yet he had been so intimidated by Jewish demands that he believed the sky would come crashing down on his head if he did other than comply with them.

That the best response that opponents of an open discussion of kosher certification have been able to come up with is Mr. Ben-Ami's essay suggests less that Mr. Ben-Ami is inept at presenting a defense, and more that there is no defense that anybody could have presented any better.  The realization that begins to dawn on us as we read Mr. Ben-Ami is that the debate is over, and the defenders of the kosher-certification scam have lost.  The three responses they have made to the Ukrainian Archive artillery barrage have been firecrackers: (1) the deafening firecracker of Moshe Ronen's silence, (2) Melissa Radler's eight-firecracker accusation of anti-Semitism, and (3) Joseph Ben-Ami's firecracker below which smoked but never went off.  The artillery barrage wins over the firecrackers.  All that remains is to research the hidden details and to notify the public and can Jewish control of the press be so absolute that this is far behind?

I began inserting some of my reactions in yellow boxes below, but quickly came to realize that almost everything Mr. Ben-Ami has to say is in some way erroneous or twisted or inappropriate or unfounded or irrelevant, such that there is no end to the commentary that one could write, and such that exhaustion begins to set in at the endlessness of the task.  For the time being, then, I have decided to stop adding the boxed commentary below to my existing critique.  As things stand, I have covered the main points.



June 05, 2000 Issue Full Text

Rebuttal

    Please do not represent kosher as some sort of Jewish conspiracy against the public

by Joseph Ben-Ami

Publication of the Ben-Ami article
proves there's some sort of Jewish conspiracy

The fact that Joseph Ben-Ami was able to get a full page in The Report Newsmagazine, with color portrait, for his attack upon me, while I am denied the right to defend myself, and can't even get editor-publisher Link Byfield to reply to any of my emails, goes far toward strengthening my suspicion that:

(1) there is a Jewish conspiracy a very successful one against the public finding out the facts of kosher certification, and that

(2) Link Byfield has been bullied into joining that Jewish conspiracy.

It goes without saying or should, anyway that such a conspiracy would be "Jewish" not because most Jews were involved in it, but rather because most of those involved in it were Jews.

In its May 8 edition, this magazine ran an article entitled "Is this kosher?" by Kevin Michael Grace, attempting to explain why food manufacturers produce a diverse range of kosher goods, how kosher certification is obtained, and what are the costs to the consumer.  Unfortunately, your story might have led readers to believe that certain elements affiliated with the Jewish community were conspiring to bilk unsuspecting consumers of their hard-earned wages.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The kosher consumer market, Jewish and non-Jewish, is a rapidly expanding one not unlike the market for "green" products, herbal remedies and sport utility vehicles.

Kosher expansion is not consumer-driven

Some expansions are not benign.  Some are metastacizing cancers that go unperceived by the victim, and are quite unlike any expansion which is driven by awareness and choice.  A better comparison, in more ways than one, would be to say that the rapid expansion of the kosher market is not unlike the rapid expansion of the "Russian" mafia.

Free enterprise being what it is, many manufacturers are anxious to cater to this growing demand by offering consumers goods that satisfy all of the requirements to be certified as kosher.

There is no growing demand,
only growing certification

Consumers cannot demand what they are unaware of.  In fact, growing consumer awareness of kosher certification is a threat to the kosher industry because of the likelihood that aware consumers will begin to choose kosher-free products.

Manufacturers who desire kosher certification must enter into a licence agreement with one of a handful of private, not-for-profit agencies which monitor their production on an ongoing basis to ensure full compliance with the terms of the licence agreement.  Often these manufacturers discover, upon investigation, that their products already are kosher, or can easily be made so with some minor changes to ingredients or process.  The manufacturer is then permitted to place the agency's seal on its product label.

To protect consumers from fraudulent claims regarding the kosher status of goods, these seals are registered as a trademark by the certifying agency.  Use of the word "kosher" or simply the letter "K" on product labels cannot be restricted by law and these are therefore never used by themselves (although they might be included in a seal).  Unfortunately, the result is that although these symbols are quite distinctive, their significance is not readily apparent to anyone who hasn't been told what they mean.  For this reason certifying agencies, as well as promoters of kosher diet (manufacturers and retailers included), take great pains to publicize their meaning.

"Take great pains" where?

Failing to provide corroboration is a habit with Mr. Ben-Ami.  If the "great pains" refers not to anything Mr. Ben-Ami has ever beheld, but refers only to Kevin Grace's one brief experience (coming up below), then Mr. Ben-Ami's assertion that kosher certifiers take "great pains to publicize" the meaning of their logos is unwarranted.

This brings me to the specifics of the article in question, and to your less-than-sympathetic source, Lubomyr Prytulak.  I understand that retired psychologists have nothing better to do with their time, but if this is the burning issue that Mr. Prytulak would have us believe, then perhaps he might make his case a little more cogently.  His argument that kosher certification constitutes "a secret message to small groups" can hardly be taken seriously when certifying agencies regularly organize programs (such as the kosher awareness campaign Mr. Grace refers to in the article) for the sole purpose of educating the public on the meaning of kosher certification.  More to the point, how could Mr. Grace have let such a blatant contradiction go unchallenged?

The public is kept from learning
the meaning of kosher labels

A single small-scale and brief promotional campaign (which Mr. Ben-Ami learned of only through Kevin Grace's article on kosher, but has never seen the likes of himself) in the vicinity of Jewish neighborhoods in Vancouver does not demonstrate the desire of kosher certifiers to have their logos widely recognized.  The evidence before us points to the superior generalization that kosher certifiers organize educational programs not "regularly" but rarely, and that these programs avoid targetting "the public," but rather target Jews.  As to exactly what this singular program consisted of, Mr. Ben-Ami doesn't know, since he lives on the other side of the continent, and only read a brief reference to it in Kevin Grace's article.  The main purpose of the campaign might have been not to promote the general public's ability to recognize kosher symbols, but rather to promote the notion that kosher products are healthier, a notion which is contradicted by kashruth authorities, as will be demonstrated below.  The fact that none of the participants in this discussion reports any similar campaign being observed before or since suggests that it was experimental, and that the results were not wholly successful promoters do not typically restrict their advertising to a few supermarkets within a single week once and never again.

If kosher-certification agencies did want kosher logos to be widely recognized, then they could simply add the word "KOSHER" and the Magen David to them, which would render their meaning so clear that no educational programs would ever be necessary.  To even more fully guarantee the public's ability to identify kosher logos, however, kosher certifiers could also take the obvious step of running ads in mainstream newspapers and magazines or on radio or television, which I have never seen them do.  The proof that kosher certifiers don't want their logos recognized is that the vast majority of consumers in fact are unaware of the existence of these logos, and when the logos are brought to their attention, do not know their meaning.

Regarding the cost to the consumer, it is true that manufacturers pay a licence fee to the certifying agency commensurate with the size and complexity of their manufacturing process to help offset the expense of providing ongoing inspection.  I am tempted to liken this to the well-established practice of manufacturers to pay exorbitant fees for the right to put names like "Ralph Lauren" or "Disney" on their clothing, but the comparison would be unfair.

DISNEY is recognized by almost everybody,
COR is recognized by almost nobody

The comparison would be unfair indeed, as "Ralph Lauren" and "Disney" names or logos are prominently displayed, and their significance widely understood by consumers.  In contrast, kosher labels are tiny, are sometimes hidden, but most importantly are designed so as to have no meaning for the vast majority of consumers.  I venture to predict that not one Gentile consumer out of a hundred knows that the tiny COR on his packaging stands for Council of Orthodox Rabbis.  All kosher labels could come with the word "kosher" but they do not because it is intended that they not be recognized for what they are.  Consider, for example, the following admission:

One of the problems that had to be overcome was the possibility that the Gentile consumer would object to the word kosher that appeared on the label.  This problem was raised by the H.J. Heinz Company when it was negotiating with the U.O.J.C. for supervision.  An agreement was reached to drop the word kosher and to use, instead, the symbol of a capital U in a circle.
Harold P. Gastwirt, Fraud, Corruption, and Holiness: The Controversy Over the Supervision of Jewish Dietary Practice in New York City 1881-1940, Kennikat Press, Port Washington NY and London, 1974, p. 11.

So, Ralph Lauren and Disney make their names and logos prominent and recognizable because it helps sales, and kosher certifiers make their logos hidden and unrecognizable because they know that this is the only way to avoid hurting sales.  What kosher certifiers fear and they are right to do so is that when the public learns to identify kosher products, it will avoid them.  There is no other explanation for keeping kosher logos hidden and their meaning secret.

Kosher certification provides a real service to consumers.  Product-association with pop icons does nothing for consumers, while enriching the moguls of modern marketing.

Kosher certification benefits only a few Jews

Kosher certification provides a "real service" only to (1) that infinitesimal minority of Canadians who observe Jewish dietary laws, (2) those who profit from the collection of kosher certification fees, and (3) any Jews among whom kosher certification income may be distributed.  No other benefit is derived by anyone.  The rumor encouraged by the kosher business that kosher products are purer or more hygienic or more nutritious is false Kashruth authorities flatly deny that health is either the intent of the Jewish dietary laws or the effect:

Kosher doesn't taste any better; kosher isn't healthier; kosher doesn't have less salmonella.  Religion is not based on logic.  You can eat a Holly Farm chicken and not know the difference.  But a Holly Farm chicken sells for 39 cents a pound on sale.  Kosher chicken, especially right before the holidays, can sell for $1.69 a pound.  There's a lot of money to be made.
Orthodox Rabbi Shulem Rubin, head of the kosher inspection division of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, quoted in the Washington Post of 02Nov87, p. A3.

There's one misconception I would like to clear up.  There's a perception that the Jewish dietary laws are steeped in health considerations.  That's not so at all.  It is a commitment to a strict adherence to a tradition, a thread from one generation to another.  I'm not kosher because it's healthier I'm kosher because my parents were kosher and my grandparents were kosher.  It's a commitment!
Rabbi Irving Silverman, The Sun-Sentinel (Chicago), 20Mar87.

The purpose and the goal of the Kosher laws is holiness, yet the most common misconception regarding Kashrut is that it is an ancient health measure.
The New York Beef Industry Council, Inc., online at www.nybic.org/kosher.htm.

The great Maimonides was one of those who sought to provide a rationale for the observance of the Kashruth laws.  His purpose was to draw the loyalty of those who had abandoned them back to observing them once again.  However, even he had to admit that when he wrote of the Kashruth code as being a means to enhance human health, he was merely offering a possible explanation rather than an accepted official interpretation.  For those students of Judaism whose knowledge was at the introductory level, the initial discussion of Kashruth might be based upon a reason of health.  But when this initial stage had grown to a broader knowledge and a deeper faith, one that could accept the fact that some Laws are to be observed wholly on faith alone, then the truth that Kashruth is without logical explanation could and should be told.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts and Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 3.


I prefer instead to focus attention on the economics of the issue.

I realize that Mr. Prytulak is a psychologist and not an economist, but even psychologists must possess a basic understanding of the effect of volume on the distribution of fixed costs in manufacturing.  The good doctor cites cases where these licence fees have approached $40,000.

Mr. Ben-Ami does no homework

I am flattered that the only estimate that Mr. Ben-Ami gives of the cost of kosher labelling comes from me, although I think it reflects somewhat poorly on his kashruth expertise that he is unable to cite any figures of his own.  Come to think of it, this sum of $40,000 that Mr. Ben-Ami gets from me is the only statistic that he cites in his entire article, casting even further doubt upon his expertise.

Had Mr. Ben-Ami been a little more assiduous in his research, he might have noted that the $40,000 that I cite was quoted by Rabbi Bernard Levi who runs the OK certification service, and who thus might be expected to be downplaying his fees, and that furthermore this fee paid by a single manufacturer was in 1975, which at 10% increase per year would be equivalent to a fee of $433,338 today.  Had Mr. Ben-Ami been a little more assiduous still in his research, he might have allowed his eyes to scan down a few lines on that same page of mine, and there noted Rabbi Jonah Gewirtz planning to charge steel manufacturers $700,000 in 1992, which at an annual increase of 10% would be equivalent to charging $1,500,512 today.  Had Mr. Ben-Ami not been as indolent in his research as he apparently was, he could have flipped open any book on kashruth, and there discovered sums more startling than either of the above, as for example that in New York City in 1934, "$25 million were spent above the normal retail value because the product was believed to be kosher" (Harold P. Gastwirt, Fraud, Corruption, and Holiness, 1974, p. 9).  Rather a lot of money, given only New York City, and given that long ago; and let us not overlook that (the inseparable companion of kosher labelling being fraud) Gastwirt is careful to remind us that although the products may have been labelled as kosher, they possibly were not so in reality.

Mr. Ben-Ami if Kosher labelling in New York City alone way back in 1934 grossed $25 million in surcharges, don't you think that it is possible that it might gross considerably more than that in surcharges in all of Canada today?  Mr. Ben-Ami get off your butt, get some facts, and stop expecting your readers to be amused by your display of grasping at straws.

Probing deeper for any evidence whatever of Mr. Ben-Ami's expertise, or any evidence that Mr. Ben-Ami had ever gone to the trouble to do the slightest bit of reading in preparation for his article, we are disappointed Mr. Ben-Ami not only offers no numbers beyond repeating my $40,000, he also never offers a single quotation, never refers to any individual by name (except for Kevin Grace and myself), never cites a book or a newspaper or magazine article (except of course for Kevin Grace's Is it kosher?); in spite of directing his attack at me, never shows any indication of having visited my web site, or being aware of the accumulation of information on that site, or even being aware of its existence; never offers a single verifiable concrete detail which throws any light on the key questions, except in a few cases where he seems to have made up some detail whose truth ranges from dubious to plainly wrong.

Continuing to sift for some sign of Mr. Ben-Ami's expertise we might expect that if he had ever published anything (not necessarily a book, but let us say even an article) on the subject of kosher certification, that he would have told us, which he does not.  As Mr. Ben-Ami furthermore does not offer any credentials either of his accomplishments in kashruth studies, or credentials that he represents some Jewish group or some Kashruth organization, we are left with the overpowering impression that he is just a guy who wandered in off the street, figuratively speaking, and was given a full page in The Report Newsmagazine, color portrait included, merely out of consideration for his being Jewish.  On that page, Mr. Ben-Ami bent his efforts to slandering me, and editor-publisher Link Byfield of The Report Newsmagazine denied me the opportunity to defend myself out of consideration for my being Ukrainian.

While this may be so, what of it?  Such a sum is so small in relation to the huge volumes produced by the large manufacturers he refers to as to render it utterly meaningless to the consumer.

That's just what a bank robber would say

The bank robber who makes off with $40,000 might also say, "What of it?  Such a sum is so small in relation to the huge amounts handled by banks as to render the loss to the individual depositor negligible."

Can Mr. Ben-Ami be so naive as to not recognize that this one bank robber will rob another bank tomorrow, and another the day after that, and that his successes will encourage others to rob banks, and that their example will encourage crime of all sorts, and that the money that these many criminals accumulate can be used to stage still greater crimes, and that sums larger than $40,000 will be lost, and so on, and so on, all working toward the destruction of the society?

Mr. Ben-Ami's argument that a $40,000 loss to Canadian consumers is insignificant is analogous to the argument that three cancer cells discovered in a biopsy are too few to be a threat to the patient.  The whole point is that the biopsy cancer cells are an indication that cancer exists in the body, and a warning that the cancer may have spread, and a threat that it will spread; and in the same way the existence of a single $40,000 secret payment bringing no benefit to the general consumer is an indication that the economy is being parasitized, and a warning that the parasitization may have spread, and a threat that it will spread.

In fact, most kosher products are significantly less expensive than their non-kosher alternatives.

Mr. Ben-Ami's Orwellian
reversal of the truth

Of course Mr. Ben-Ami does not tell us how he arrived at his remarkable conclusion that kosher products are cheaper.  He is blessed with the gift of pulling facts that suit him out of thin air, and he is blessed with the even greater gift of hypnotizing editor-publisher Link Byfield into not requesting corroboration.

However, the kosher literature swamps us with evidence to the contrary.  You will recollect Rabbi Shulem Rubin above telling us that Holly Farm chicken may sell for 39 cents a pound, while indistinguishable kosher chicken sells for $1.69 a pound.  I find such statements that kosher is more expensive abounding in the kosher literature, and I find statements supportive of Ben-Ami's contrary assertion totally absent.  Here are two quotes that I am readily able to lay hands on:

Where a particular product is marketed in both kosher and nonkosher form, e.g., meat, the kosher brand often will demand a higher price.  Kashrut observers have been willing to pay the extra money on the assumption that additional expenses are involved in processing kosher food.  This assumption often has been used to dupe and defraud customers.
Harold P. Gastwirt, Fraud, Corruption, and Holiness: The Controversy Over the Supervision of Jewish Dietary Practice in New York City 1881-1940, Kennikat Press, Port Washington NY and London, 1974, p. 2.

"Why do the prices of meats, poultry and certain fish skyrocket to double the regular price, or more, just before the Jewish holidays?", asks a Jewish housewife in dismay.  Each year, a few weeks before Rosh Hashanah and Passover especially, the prices of these food items double and even triple.  [...]  Why, then, is the observant Kosher housewife punished because of her devotion to Judaism?  [...]  The perpetrators of this abuse have heard the protest, but have gone along as before.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts and Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 186-187.


To make matters worse, after wrongly, and I must say offensively, characterizing these licensing fees as a "Jewish tax," Mr. Prytulak then claims that "if the government levies a tax, then at least the consumer can see how large it is."  This begs the question: has Mr. Prytulak or Mr. Grace been to the gas station lately?

Mr. Ben-Ami thinks consumers
can't find out the gasoline tax

I do not linger over Mr. Ben-Ami misquoting me his error doesn't change my meaning, but it does fortify the image of slovenliness that the rest of his article has been building up.  I also do not linger over the abomination of not knowing what "to beg the question" means, and incorrectly guessing that it means "to call to mind the question" though at least here Mr. Ben-Ami can offer the defense that he is merely following the recent lead of others whose education has been as defective as his own.

More to the point I can readily find out what the government tax is on gasoline I can telephone the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) or any gasoline retailer, or I can email a business reporter at a newspaper, or I can write my member of parliament, or I can ask the manager at a gas station and any of these will give me the answer, and they won't call the thought police, and they won't question my sanity, and they won't try to get me fired, and they won't menace me, and they won't have me investigated.

I can do even better than that I just did an Alta Vista Canada search for "gasoline tax" on the Internet.  Item number three looked promising a CAA site and so I clicked on it first, and the very first sentence told me that the federal tax on gasoline was ten cents per liter.  Of course more detailed information is available only a few mouse clicks away, as for example the following fuel taxes in New Brunswick:

Gasoline tax             10.7 cents per liter
Motive fuel (diesel) tax 13.7 cents per liter
Propane tax               6.7 cents per liter
Aviation fuel tax         2.5 cents per liter
Locomotive fuel tax       4.3 cents per liter

Any degree of detail is available that Alta Vista Canada search for "gasoline tax" netted me 62,570 pages of information.

In contrast, there is no way to readily find out the magnitude of the Jewish supermarket tax, and when I try, Jews as far away as Ottawa and New York City (good thing I'm not paranoid, or I'd suspect a conspiracy) write articles hassling me, but not giving me the answer.

There is, in short, a stunningly-obvious difference in the availability of information regarding the government gasoline tax and the Jewish supermarket tax, and for Mr. Ben-Ami to pretend not to see this stunningly-obvious difference indicates a willful blindness which sends his already-shaky credibility crashing to the ground.

Finally, Mr. Prytulak's musings about a possible relationship between kosher labelling and the Canadian Jewish Congress are just plain silly.  The Canadian Jewish community is not a monolithic entity represented by the CJC, nor are Canadian Jewish institutions arranged in a hierarchy with the CJC at the top.  Quite the contrary, the Canadian Jewish community is as socially and politically diverse as the rest of Canadian society, and its many movements and organizations reflect that diversity.  The Canadian Jewish Congress is only one of these organizations, primarily dedicated to political action, and having no more of a stake in kosher certification than Mr. Prytulak has himself.

Mr. Ben-Ami should stop pronouncing
upon things he does not know

Has either the Council of Orthodox Rabbis (COR) or the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) authorized Mr. Ben-Ami to describe their business relationship?  If so, then Mr. Ben-Ami should announce this, and then as a recognized spokesman of these organizations, his words might carry some weight.  If not, then Mr. Ben-Ami should disclose the alternative source of his information.  In the absence of either of these, he may be suspected of additional fabrication.

I found your story ill-researched, unbalanced and disturbing in tone.  Quite frankly, I had come to expect better of you.

Thank you, Mr. Ben-Ami, for staying awake
long enough to write your essay

You can go back to sleep now.

Joseph Ben-Ami is an engineering project consultant in Ottawa.

Which happens to not be the qualification that got him a page in The Report Newsmagazine

If you want to know what qualification did get Mr. Ben-Ami a page in The Report Newsmagazine, please ask editor-publisher Link Byfield through any of the channels given at the top of the present page, as for example by emailing him at [email protected].



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