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Melissa Radler: Canadian Mag's Unkosher Article
"If he was genuinely interesting to know about kosher labeling issues, he could have contacted us instead of putting insulting letters to our president on his web site." Jack Silverstone, Executive Vice President of the CJC

Why New York City?

When Kevin Grace's article on kosher certification appears in a small-circulation, Western-Canadian biweekly The Report Newsmagazine why do the Jews who object to the article publish their criticism (the one written by Melissa Radler and reproduced at the bottom of this page) on the other side of the continent and in a different country?

But could they have done otherwise? Yes, easily!

The author of the article, Melissa Radler, is daughter of F. David Radler, President and COO of Hollinger International Inc, largest newspaper company in the world, owner for example of the Jerusalem Post, and more relevant to the matter at hand, owner of the Southam newspaper chain in Canada, such that criticism of The Report Newsmagazine kosher article could not only have been published in Canada, but could readily have been published throughout Canada but it was not.  Why not?  On top of that, Ezra Levant, mentioned by Melissa Radler below as leading the attack against The Report Newsmagazine, finds himself inexplicably to my way of thinking on the editorial board of one of Canada's leading newspapers the National Post to which I for the time being subscribe despite Mr. Levant's involvement.  Coincidentally and cozily, David Radler's Hollinger also owns the National Post.  The excitable Ezra Levant, in other words, works for puppet master David Radler, father of the obedient Melissa Radler.  The National Post too would have been a more fitting, and far more effective, channel of rebuttal but it too has not been deployed in this attack.  Why not?

An answer which suggests itself is that opponents of The Report Newsmagazine kosher article recognize the weakness of their criticism, and dare venture their objections only in front of the very sympathetic audience of the minority of New York City Jews who read The Forward.  In short, they recognize that they have nothing to say that will stand up before any wider audience.  They want to intimidate The Report Newsmagazine with the accusation of anti-Semitism, but dare do so only by demonstrating that the charge is circulated within one small circle of New York City Jews.  Senior Jewish leadership which is opposed to The Report Newsmagazine kosher article, and to the Ukrainian Archive discussion of kosher certification, is strongly motivated to take repressive action, but finds itself paralyzed because it recognizes the danger that confrontation will result in wider discussion of kosher certification breaking out in the mainstream press, with the consequence that the public will turn to the Ukrainian Archive and find there the basic kosher facts of which they have to date been kept in ignorance.  The only Jews venturing out to skirmish on the kosher front have been loose cannons such as Ezra Levant and Joseph Ben-Ami who seem unable to foresee the consequences of their actions, and young reporters like Melissa Radler who have been imprudently pushed into the line of fire by their elders.

Always with the psychiatric diagnoses!

To go over the Melissa Radler article line by line would be tedious.  Suffice it to say that the Ukrainian Archive has given Jewish leaders ample opportunity to answer a number of questions concerning kosher certification, and these Jewish leaders have declined to make any comment.  The Radler article avoids touching upon any of the main issues that have been raised.  Instead, it tirelessly repeats the psychiatric diagnosis of anti-Semitism.

Psychiatric diagnosis! What some stoop to when they run out of arguments, and judging by the frequency of stooping in the Radler article eight accusations of anti-Semitism! there must have been a dire shortage of arguments indeed.  Psychiatric diagnosis! A reflex developed by debaters who have become too lazy to think and so what ample evidence of mental laziness in the Radler article!  Just as there can be only shame in proclaiming, "I don't have to work; I'm on welfare!" so there should be only shame in proclaiming, "I don't have to think; I'm a Jew who can close down any argument by the accusation of anti-Semitism!"  Psychiatric diagnosis is a form of intellectual welfare.  The accusation of anti-Semitism is the taking of intellectual welfare.  Welfare of any kind destroys character.  Economic welfare destroys the ability to work.  Intellectual welfare destroys the ability to think.

Come, now, Melissa Radler concentrate!  The issues are simple.  We can discuss them without calling each other crazy.  We can even discuss them without quoting the nut cases who run around calling other people crazy.  Oops! There I see I've fallen into the same trap.  I snap out of my own lapse into psychiatric diagnosis, and continue ...

Come, now, Melissa Radler, eight accusations of anti-Semitism in one short article begins to seem less like reporting than echolalia.  Oops! There I've done it again.  Another psychiatric diagnosis.  How hard not to give tit for tat!  But let me have another go at it.

Come, now, Melissa Radler I pick up again concentrate!  The issues are simple, and a journalist of competence and integrity must confront them.  We start with the fundamental observation that the vast majority of consumers are unaware of how many of the products they buy say their aluminum foil and their laundry bleach come kosher-certified.  So, is one afflicted with the psychiatric malady of anti-Semitism if one asks: (1) Why should aluminum foil and laundry bleach be kosher certified? and (2) Why is the public ignorant that its aluminum foil and laundry bleach are kosher certified? and (3) What is it costing the public to have its aluminum foil and laundry bleach kosher certified?

I would have liked to see you put these questions in your article on kosher certification, and I will look forward to seeing you put them in your future articles on kosher certification.  If asking these three questions is all it takes to qualify someone as an eight-times-over anti-Semite (or self-hating Jew), then it follows that to be a journalist of competence and integrity necessitates that one be an eight-times-over anti-Semite (or self-hating Jew).  My own view is that anyone who refuses to ask such questions is either a coward or a fool, probably a little of both, and should find a career other than journalism for which his talents may be better suited, and in fact some career in which intellectual requirements are less onerous.

Leaning toward totalitarianism

Although the Radler article makes some attempt to be fair to the Ukrainian Archive more of an attempt than I expected still, the Forward reader must rest content with a largely negative characterization without being given the information the URL www.ukar.org which would allow him to visit the site and evaluate it for himself.

Your tactic, Melissa Radler, I view as totalitarian.  It relies for its success on a misrepresentation of an opponent's position, together with a denial of access to the opponent's real arguments.  I view this as related to the suppression of evidence in a court of law, perhaps because I have just completed writing a letter to Martin Mendelsohn on the topic of his suppressing evidence in the John Demjanjuk case, and I go on to wonder whether I am witness here to a subculture in which the suppression of evidence is commonly employed in essence a subculture whose instincts lean toward totalitarian thought control.

Come Melissa Radler I do think I see a sympathy for totalitarian thought control on your part.  Consider that I have no fear of reproducing your article below for my readers, but you are incapable of reproducing one of my kosher articles for your readers.  I will gladly place the Forward URL on the Ukrainian Archive web site, but you do not dare to give the Ukrainian Archive URL in your article.  In fact, I challenge you to a swap right now I hereby invite my readers to visit the Forward web site at www.forward.com; and will you please now reciprocate by inviting your readers to visit the Ukrainian Archive at www.ukar.org?  I expect not.  I notice that your article avoided even mentioning the name of my site Ukrainian Archive which would have made it easier for your readers to locate it.  One of us is afraid of what the other has to say, and it is not me.

What's wrong with The Report Newsmagazine kosher article?

Radler passes along the Link Byfield judgment that The Report Newsmagazine's kosher article is "not well-reported" and in my book his credibility runs high, as he is the editor-publisher of this same The Report Newsmagazine who at one time saw nothing wrong with the article, but once the Jewish heat was turned up, opted to save himself by means of appeasement that is, by offering up Kevin Grace, the article's author, as a sacrifice to Jewish wrath.  Rabbi Menachem Genack whose credibility in my book runs very high from his Orthodox Union having given the world such wonders of Judaism as kosher aluminum foil, kosher plastic food wrap, kosher plastic snack bags, kosher laundry detergent, kosher scouring pads, kosher dishwasher detergent, and kosher toilet bowl cleaner is quoted as saying that The Report Newsmagazine article is "an anti-Semitic diatribe."  Ezra Levant whose credibility in my book runs particularly high from his having been fired as recently as 1997 by the Edmonton Sun for ethical violations is quoted as saying that The Report Newsmagazine article "came close to anti-Semitism."  Joseph Ben-Ami whose credibility in my book shot way up when I found that the only figure he knew concerning the cost of kosher labeling came from me is quoted as saying that the kosher tax theory is "just plain silly."  Radler also passes along judgments that The Report Newsmagazine article is poorly researched, biased, written from hidden motives, and supportive of conspiracy theories.

What Radler never tells us, however, is exactly what is wrong with The Report Newsmagazine article.  Not a single instance of error, inaccuracy, misrepresentation, distortion, or exaggeration is ever identified.  No omission or incompleteness is ever specified.  All we get is heavy condemnation based on no identifiable shortcoming.

The closest that we come to an identifiable shortcoming is a statement made by Kevin Grace, though not in his The Report Newsmagazine kosher article: "The cost [of kosher labeling] to producers and consumers is largely secret.  This is a fact."  But what is the Radler objection here?  Kevin Grace did really discover that he couldn't find out what the cost of kosher labeling is.  I myself have not been able to learn what this cost is.  I have asked the president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and he hasn't told me.  I have asked several manufacturers, and they haven't told me.  Joseph Ben-Ami has written a critique of The Report Newsmagazine kosher article, on the pages of The Report Newsmagazine itself as it happens, and there reveals that he knows less about it than I do.  The Radler article below advances our knowledge of cost not one jot.  So yes, the cost of kosher labeling to producers and consumers is indeed largely secret.  And yes, this is indeed a fact.  I have trouble comprehending reporting which presents statements under the assumption that they will be accepted as false when nothing could be plainer than that they are true.

Of course The Report Newsmagazine kosher article must have something wrong with it, or else nobody would be complaining.  That something wrong, however, is that the article does present a good introduction to kosher certification (which is a sin to those who want the public kept in the dark), and worse than that broaches several of the key questions that consumers may reasonably want to hear answers to (which is the greatest of all sins to those who see their profits from the kosher certification racket threatened).  In days to come, the author of The Report Newsmagazine article on kosher certification, Kevin Grace, will be winning awards for his courage in placing this story before the Canadian public, but until that day arrives he will have to endure an interval of hazing by the defenders of entrenched greed.

And always with the veiled threats!

Of course it is understood that the accusation of anti-Semitism is more than a psychiatric diagnosis it is also a threat.  A threat of loss of employment, a threat of being assaulted, a threat of having acid thrown in one's face, a threat of being fire bombed, a threat of being assassinated.  Do you know, Melissa Radler, that that is what Jewish leaders sometimes do when they don't like what someone is saying?  Do you want me to supply you with examples?  Shall I send you photographs?  Will you publish them in the Forward?

That, too, Melissa Radler, is what your article is a threat.  Jack Silverstone, who finds himself without arguments, menaces.  Jack Silverstone has been sitting on my nine letters enquiring about kosher certification for two months now yes, the hard copies of the earliest in this series of letters that I mailed to National President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Moshe Ronen, were mailed around two months ago and here Mr. Silverstone does not concern himself with answering these letters, or getting Moshe Ronen to answer them, or getting somebody on the Council of Orthodox Rabbis to answer them.  He does not say "We're formulating the most effective replies we can make to the questions in these letters."  No, he has no answers to these questions.  He brushes the letters aside.  They are irrelevant.  What is relevant is to menace.  He does not examine the contents of my letters, he examines me and he examines my web site but with what purpose except to retaliate?  With what purpose except to intimidate?  With what purpose except to suppress?  With what purpose except to impose totalitarian thought control?

Really, Melissa Radler such tactics are beneath contempt.  You had an obligation, and you did not fulfill it.  You had an obligation to ask Jack Silverstone why he simply didn't answer my letters.  You had an obligation to ask him what might be the purpose behind examining me and examining my web site.  You had an obligation to point out to Jack Silverstone the harm that comes to Jewish prestige when Jewish representatives lose the ability to think, and reflexively fall back on intimidation.

Melissa Radler interviews me

In preparation for her article below, Melissa Radler telephoned me on the afternoon of Tuesday 23-May-2000 to request an interview.  I agreed to be interviewed by email.  Below is that interview.  I take it that my answers were not pleasing to Melissa Radler, as she quoted only a single sentence from my entire interview the sentence emphasized in blue:

Hello Melissa Radler!

I'll just insert my answers below.

At 04:58 PM 23-05-2000 -0700, you wrote:

Dr. Prytulak,

This is Melissa Radler, (we just spoke moments ago), and I am a reporter for the Forward, which is a weekly magazine based in New York City.  I am writing to you concerning your website, www.ukar.org.  Could you tell me a bit of the background on the website

1. What is the intent of the website?

It may answer your question to know that an alternative title that was at one time considered for the site was UADL, "Ukrainian Anti-Defamation League."

2. What kind of information are you attempting to bring to the public?

When I see Ukraine or Ukrainians being unfairly criticized, I jump to their defense, to the degree that my limited resources permit. (And incidentally, when I see Ukraine or Ukrainians being fairly criticized, I join in the attack as can be seen by some of the harshest things that I have to say against anyone being directed against Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, whom I typically depict as a gangster.)

3. Your information on kashruth provided to Kevin Grace for his Alberta Report article where did you do your research?  Could you cite publications and people?

This cannot be answered briefly, as I consulted books, newspaper articles, and web sites, and I made observations of my own.  All the kashruth postings on the Ukrainian Archive document exactly where every piece of information came from, and so is a matter of public record.  But let me ask how much research does one have to do before asking questions?  The research I did did not make me a kashruth authority able to dispense generalizations concerning kosher certification but it did qualify me to ask questions which I put to the highest Canadian authority that I knew of, Moshe Ronen, National President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who if he didn't know the answers himself should at least have been able to direct my questions to someone who did know.  Moshe Ronen did not answer any of my questions, or respond in any way.  So, if I don't know as much as I should, it may be because those who do know aren't talking.  Instead of asking me what justification I have for asking my questions, wouldn't it be better to ask what justification others have for not answering them?

4. Has your website been critiqued at all by any specific group or groups of people, for example, Jewish groups?

No Jewish group, or any group, has ever critiqued my web site, which is peculiar given that my many letters, most of them to Jewish leaders, request just such a critique.  I have asked many individuals over and over again for information which might disconfirm my views, and I have not received any such information.  I have pleaded with individuals to examine my web site for inaccuracy or bias but I have never been informed of any, leading me to conclude that I might not be far off the mark.  For example, fearing that I had made some mistake in doubting Morley Safer's 60 Minutes story that prior to the German occupation of Lviv, Ukrainians killed 5 to 6 thousand Jews, I wrote to Raul Hilberg himself asking if he knew of any such record-breaking pogrom, and he replied, in essense, that he did not.  So there you have an example of why the Ukrainian Archive exists to refute this sort of calumny and there you have a demonstration, if you care to read my letters to Morley Safer, that I have more than once requested him to instruct me if my negative coverage of his 60 Minutes broadcast contained inaccuracies or biases, and that I have received no answer.

I am looking forward to your response.  My deadline is today I'm sorry to contact you at the last minute!

I don't mind, and I would be happy, furthermore, to answer additional questions, or if my answers failed to address issues you were interested in, to answer re-phrased versions of any of your questions.

Sincerely,

Melissa Radler
[email protected]
212-447-6406 (fax)
212-889-8200, ext. 1-482 (phone)

Half an hour after the above interview, I emailed Melissa Radler the following request:

By the way, would I be able to get a hard copy of anything you may write on the topic?

Three days later, on Friday 26-May-2000, having received no reply to the above request, I emailed the following reminder:

P.S. You are going to send me a hard copy, right?

As of the morning of 25-Aug-2000, no reply to that either.

Why the Radler brush off?  My guess is that I had supplied an interview that Melissa Radler had found herself unable to print, and the article she ended up affixing her name to she was ashamed of, and for those reasons didn't want me to see it.

In the meantime, of course, I received a copy of the Radler article from another source, and here it finally is:




Canadian Mag's Unkosher Article

By MELISSA RADLER

FORWARD STAFF

26-May-2000


NEW YORK An article on kosher food that appeared earlier this month in a mainstream Canadian magazine is being labeled an "anti-Semitic diatribe" by a leading rabbi.

In the May 8 issue of the Alberta Report, a biweekly newsmagazine based in Canada with a circulation of 50,000, an article titled "Is This Kosher?" quotes extensively without irony from claims on a Vancouver-based Ukrainian nationalist web site that kosher labeling is a "Jewish tax" and alleges that kosher labels "send a secret message to a small group."

The article is a stark reminder that Jewish conspiracy theories, however baseless, have not yet been put to rest.  It's attracting unanimous condemnation from Jewish leaders in Canada and America, and even the publisher of the magazine, while stopping short of an apology, is now acknowledging that the story was not well-


Canadian 'Zine's 'Kosher Tax' Claim Irks Bigs


reported.  The author of the article, Kevin Michael Grace, is a senior editor at The Report.

A rabbinic administrator for the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Menachem Genack, who characterized the article as an anti-Semitic diatribe, said, "The responsible press shouldn't have printed this in the first place.  It doesn't speak well for the newspaper, but it's free press."

The executive vice president of B'nai Brith Canada, Frank Dimant, said, "Mr. Grace did not check his facts.  Checking his facts and reporting them in an unbiased manner would have resulted in a very different article, perhaps one debunking the so-called kosher tax as the anti-Semitic hoax it is."

The assistant national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Kenneth Jacobson, expressed concern about Mr. Grace's article, saying, "I think it's troubling that someone is so concerned about this issue about kosher food, and I do agree that this concern usually reflects some other motivation.  One doesn't have to seek a conspiracy theory in order to justify why companies sell kosher food."  In 1991 the ADL's civil-rights division published an article condemning what they termed the "Kosher Tax Hoax" as "propaganda used by anti-Semites to trick the uninformed into accepting conspiracy charges and stereotypes about Jews."

The magazine's publisher refused to print a rebuttal of the article written by a member of the editorial board of the National Post, Ezra Levant, who alleges that the author of the piece "came close to anti-Semitism."  The Report instead published a rebuttal that characterizes the kosher tax theory as "just plain silly."

The retired psychology professor who maintains the Ukrainian web site quoted in the original Albert Report article, Lubomyr Prytulak, described his web site in an e-mail to the Forward as follows: "When I see Ukraine or Ukrainians being unfairly criticized, I jump to their defense, to the degree that my limited resources permit."  On the home page of the web site, Mr. Prytulak lists links to hundreds of letters written to a variety of individuals, some of whom are Holocaust survivors.  The titles of the letters on the web site include, "Elie Wiesel: A Cancer for Jews," "Elie Wiesel: Raping German Girls," and "Simon Wiesenthal: He Also Forges."  In the letters, Mr. Prytulak attempts to refute minor details in accounts of the Holocaust that have been published by survivors.  Most of the letters remain unanswered.

The executive vice president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Jack Silverstone, who was quoted in Mr. Grace's article as saying that the Canadian Jewish Congress "derives no benefits from kosher labeling," said, "We're examining both the web site and its author, because as far as we can determine upon first reading, it appears to be little more than an anti-Semitic initiative using, this time, the lever of kosher food labeling.  If he was genuinely interesting to know about kosher labeling issues, he could have contacted us instead of putting insulting letters to our president on his web site."

Mr. Grace said in a letter that the Ukrainian web site contains no evidence of anti-Semitism.  "The primary purpose of Dr. Prytulak's web site is to refute what he believes to be calumnies against the Ukrainian people, much as the Anti-Defamation League exists to refute what it regards as calumnies against the Jewish people," Mr. Grace said.  In a letter written to Mr. Levant that was obtained by the Forward, Mr. Grace states, "The cost [of kosher labeling] to producers and consumers is largely secret.  This is a fact."

The publisher of The Report, Link Byfield, said, "It occurred to me that it was not a well-reported story.  It does not make my reporter out to be an anti-Semite."


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