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Yes, Ernesto, There Is a Jewish Plot
Rabbi Avi Shafran

Yes, Ernesto, There Is a Jewish Plot

Rabbi Avi Shafran

When, confronted several years ago with the titles of several new Japanese books about Jewish plots to subjugate mankind, I said okay, so there are Japanese who hate Jews even though they've never met one but I bet there aren't any Mexican anti-Semites, I spoke too soon.

Meet the "Aztlan Communication Network." It is the teratoid brainchild of one Ernesto Cienfuegos, a Mexican-American every bit as fixated upon - and hateful of - Jews as any white supremacist, Islamist or Nazi.

He's every bit as unintentionally funny, too. One conspiracy he prides himself on having fearlessly exposed is the "Jewish tax" that inheres, hidden in plain sight from unsuspecting Gentiles, in secret code on food packaging. Long familiar to Hebrews of traditional bent, the various kosher symbols (the popular "u" inscribed in an "o" that is a trademark of the Orthodox Union, as well as myriad graphic riffs on the letter "k") are indications that the product so marked was produced under the supervision of a rabbi expert in the intricacies of both kosher law and food science.

Companies pay for the service, of course, as they do for the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval (which requires that one advertise in a magazine) or, indirectly (through increased manufacturing costs) for the right to call their products "organic" or "all natural." To Mr. Cienfuegos, however, the arrangement is decidedly unkosher; it smacks, to his fuzzy lights, of a sinister bilking of innocent non-Jews. If companies pay for a rabbi's service, he unreasons, the cost must be passed on. secretly, of course. to consumers.

In 1975, The New York Times reported that the cost to General Foods for rabbinical supervision of its "Bird's Eye" products worked out to .0000065 of a cent per item. A Heinz Company representative maintained that its kosher labeling actually decreases the cost of items by increasing the market for them - the only rational reason a company would choose to pay for such a service.

Nor is Mr. Cienfuegos compelled to buy one brand of gefilte fish over another. If the kosher item proves more expensive, he can simply opt for one that hasn't been supervised by a rabbi (which one imagines he would probably prefer in any event).

Anti-Semites, though, don't like to be confused by facts; they have bigger things to do, like sowing hatred and suspicion. And any energy Mr. Cienfuegos has left after exposing nefarious Jewish conspiracies is put to use pushing the Palestinian cause, largely by presenting graphic accounts and images of Arab injuries and deaths suffered as the result of Israeli military force.

Curiously missing are depictions of the results of Arab violence, nor any consideration of the fact that innocent Arab casualties are unintentional and regretted, the result of a defensive war of survival; and Israeli ones the result of premeditated, cruel and gleeful acts of murder fueled by hatred.

The very hatred, in fact, that animates Mr. Cienfuegos and company. That's what's so intriguing about Jew-hatred. It's so. adaptable. Much of it, over history, has been of a racial nature; but much of it, too, rooted in religion; some of it has been political; and some, almost personal. The mark, though, has been the same.

Most folks connected even rudimentarily to reality realize that there are no Elders of Zion (at least none who aspire to world control), and no Jews who murder Christians to mix their blood into matzohs. And yet, millions keep even those myths alive (not to mention add new ones, like Jewish recruitment of Arab innocents to fly planes into buildings). And then there are less blatant, perhaps, but more insidious Jewish crimes. like kosher symbols.

While the surprising eruptions of anti-Semitism in unexpected places and the sheer creativity and irrepressibility of Jew-hatred are rightful causes of concern for us Jews, there is also something curiously invigorating about it all.

For it points to what underlies Jew-hatred: the suspicion that the Jewish people are special.

However odd it might seem of God, He did indeed deign to choose the Jews. In other words, yes, Ernesto, there is a plot (though not a conspiracy; there's only one Plotter).

What anti-Semites don't know, though, is that the Jewish mission isn't to subjugate but rather to educate. Keep it under your hat, but Jews are charged with living lives of holiness, of service to God and man.

That includes prayer, charity and acts of kindness, study of holy texts and meticulous honesty in all our dealings - as well as a multitude of ritual matters, like eating kosher food. No, Ernesto, it doesn't include undermining society or the domination of others.

One day, G-d willing - likely when we Jews shoulder our mission with more passion and determination - those who labor so hard to hate us will come to realize that our specialness was never a threat to them at all, but a gift.


Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America

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