Tag Archives: Orthodox Union

Baby Food Jihad



unnamedBaby formula is vital to an infant’s health, as it contains the nutrients necessary for proper physical and mental development. Some baby food, though, while being healthy for babies, is associated with terrorism and bigotry.


For Orthodox Jews and others, the baby formula that their children consume needs to conform to kosher dietary laws, meaning that the food excludes ingredients that would render it religiously inedible. A hechsher or kashruth symbol is placed on a number of products to let those concerned know that they are okay to eat. The most prominent hechsher found on U.S. baby food is the “U” with an “O” around it, the symbol of the group Orthodox Union.

Recently, the Muslim community has gotten into the act, creating a market for Islamic halal (permissible) food, as they too have restrictions regarding food consumption – halal being the Muslim equivalent of kosher. This, though, seems to be more about something other than religious duty, as Jewish dietary laws are more stringent than Muslim ones, rendering kosher food perfectly acceptable to Muslims and halal food entirely unnecessary.

One reason for the existence of halal deals with money. The margin of profit can be great when it comes to the food industry, especially baby food. The other reason seems to be political motivation. Placing Muslim symbols on products is a convenient way to push Islamist culture into non-Muslim American households.


The world’s largest halal food certification company is the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), based in Park Ridge, Illinois, an affluent suburb of Chicago. IFANCA’s symbol, a crescent alongside an “M,” can be found on different baby formulas, including ones made by leading brands Similac and Gerber, their Crescent-M dwarfing the O-U kosher hechsher sitting next to it.


Those seeking kosher food – even those seeking halal food – or anyone else who uses these baby food products may be shocked to find out that IFANCA is linked to international terrorism and bigotry.


IFANCA is working with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to create a national halal standards and accreditation body. In 2007 and 2008, ISNA, which was co-founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami al-Arian, was named by the United Sates Justice Department as a co-conspirator in the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. Just this past September, the Canadian government stripped ISNA of its tax status in Canada for the financing of a Pakistani terrorist group.


IFANCA is an active member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC). Other members include: the Mosque Foundation (MF), which has held fundraisers for individuals and groups associated with PIJ and Hamas; Islamic Relief (IR), which has been associated with al-Qaeda financing and that was named by the Israeli government a front for Hamas; Helping Hand (HH), which partnered with a Pakistani charity at the same time that charity delivered close to $100,000 to the residence of the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal; and the Muslim American Society (MAS), which has used the internet to propagate materials degrading women, cursing Christians, and calling for the murder of Jews and homosexuals.


IFANCA’s terror and hate-related affiliations are understandable, given the individuals who are in charge of the organization.


Muhammad Munir Chaudry is a Founding Board Member and President of IFANCA. He is listed, along with a photo, on the “Speaker” page of ISNA. Sharing the page with him are fellow ISNA speakers: Esam Omeish, who resigned from the Virginia Commission on Immigration, after videos surfaced depicting him calling for violent jihad; Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a reported front for Hamas; Siraj Wahhaj, who was named a party to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; and Zulfiqar Ali Shah, the former South Asia Division Coordinator for KindHearts, a charity whose funds were frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department in February 2006 for its alleged role as a Hamas financier.


Roger Othman is the Executive Director of IFANCA. According to his bio found on the IFANCA website, Othman “has served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Mosque Foundation.” As mentioned earlier, MF has been involved in Palestinian terror-related fundraising. In July 2007, one of Othman’s fellow MF Executive Committee alumni, Muhammad Salah, was convicted of obstruction of justice for making false statements during a legal proceeding and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. According to the FBI, Salah was recruiting and training Hamas members and was raising money for Hamas.


Ahmad Hussein Sakr is a member of IFANCA’s Board of Directors and has been with IFANCA since its inception. Prior to IFANCA, he was a founding member and president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), ISNA’s main youth group and the first major Muslim Brotherhood organization inside the U.S. Sakr also served as an officer and sat on the Board of Directors of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), ISNA’s financing wing. Like ISNA, NAIT was named by the United States government as a co-conspirator to the financing of Hamas. As well, Sakr served as the first director and representative of the Muslim World League (MWL), a group that has reportedly been involved in the funding of Hamas, al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits.


Sakr is the author of the book, ‘Pork: Possible Reasons for its Prohibition.’ In it, he describes Jews as being cursed, monkey-like, filthy and corrupt. He wrote: “It is known that some of the children of Israel regularly disobeyed Allah and as a result, were cursed. Some of them stagnated spiritually and mentally and hence became idol-worshippers; others lost their mission in life as human beings and became entertainers (if such a term is to be used) like monkeys, apes and chimpanzies [sic], and still others became filthy of mind and body, gluttonous eaters of carnivorous animals, and lived totally a corrupted life as swines [sic].”


Sakr’s book was published in 1993 by Sakr’s group, the Foundation for Islamic Knowledge, and is still in circulation as a paperback. A copy of the text is located on the website of the MSA at the University of Evansville, Indiana, in a section ironically titled, ‘Pages for Non-Muslims.’


It would make sense for Jews and others to be outraged that such an organization as IFANCA would be able to place its symbol on the packaging of major brand baby formula, let alone get paid to do so, and they are – very well! And it’s not just baby formula. The Crescent-M is found on a number of other types of products, including soups, ice cream, chicken and cheese.


Parents have a choice. They could go with a baby formula that has a terror and bigotry-associated symbol on it, as found on Similac and Gerber products, or they can go with a product that is IFANCA-free, such as Enfamil.


Companies have a choice, too. This author contacted one of them – Abbott which makes Similac and PediaSure, a kids’ nutrition supplement which also sports the Crescent-M – and was told that the company only wishes to cater to the Muslim community.


Question: Does catering to Muslims mean having to cater to extremists?


In the case of halal certification, it appears that even baby formula has become a symbol of how violence and bigotry is insinuating itself into the very essence of American family life.


Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.


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The Case for a United Jerusalem

Dividing the holy city as part of a final-status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians ignores key realities on the ground. by Nathan Diament – Nathan Diament is the executive director for public policy at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

Proponents of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often insist that the only way to resolve competing claims over the holy city of Jerusalem is to divide it, with each half respectively serving as the capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state. Those who advocate this approach often try to make it more palatable by asserting, as Terrestrial Jerusalem founder Daniel Seidemann recently wrote in The Atlantic, that while many Israelis speak of Jerusalem being a “united” city since its eastern half came under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, such a perception is a “myth” because, in fact, Jerusalem is divided between largely homogeneous and internally contiguous Jewish and Arab neighborhoods across which the two groups rarely venture. Thus, they argue, a border could be drawn relatively easily along demographic lines, re-dividing the city between the two states.

The reality, however, is that Jerusalem today is a demographically intertwined city. To be sure, there are neighborhoods, particularly east of the security barrier, where Jews seldom venture. But modern-day Jerusalem is far more an interwoven checkerboard of Jewish and Palestinian enclaves. The Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, for example, lies between the Jewish neighborhoods of Talpiot and Gilo, while the Arab neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah lies between the Old City and the Jewish neighborhood of French Hill. Separating these neighborhoods between two countries would create an unwieldy and unsustainable border. While creative solutions have been proposed to ensure that a re-divided Jerusalem would remain interconnected, as any urban center must to thrive, experience shows that divided cities, such as Berlin and Baghdad, are fragile at best and combustible at worst.
One significant reason against dividing Jerusalem is that many of the Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem wish to remain under Israeli sovereignty. Recent polling indicates that, despite the fact that municipal resources and services have not been evenly allocated between Jewish and Arab Jerusalem segments of the city, a plurality of Palestinians residing in eastern sections of Jerusalem would move from Palestinian Jerusalem to Israeli Jerusalem, if given the opportunity, should the city be re-divided. According to one of the pollsters:
For most Palestinians who said they wanted to be citizens of Israel, approximately 35 percent said it was practical issues that dominate — freedom of movement, higher income, health insurance, job opportunities, prosperity, more shops…
People were concerned that if they became a citizen of Palestine, they had significant worries about losing employment in Israel, free movement in Israel, Israeli health care, and reduction in city services. …
Three-quarters of east Jerusalem Arabs are at least a little concerned, and more than half are more than a little concerned, that they would lose their ability to write and speak freely if they became citizens of a Palestinian state rather than remaining under Israeli control.
But more contentious than the fate of Jerusalem’s residential neighborhoods is the debate over the fate of the Old City – home to Judaism’s holiest sites and among Islam’s holiest sites. On a practical level, dividing the Old City along demographic lines would put Jewish holy sites on the Palestinian side and Muslim holy sites on the Israeli side. Israelis are understandably cautious about putting these sites solely under Arab control; when Arabs last controlled the Old City, from 1948 to 1967, Jews were barred from access.
To address this concern, numerous groups have proposed “special arrangements,” such as international or joint Israeli-Palestinian administration over the Old City, to ensure protection of and access to these sites. But these proposals rely on international community support and enforcement to guarantee security and access, which Israel has legitimate grounds to doubt given the lackluster performance of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Sinai (who evacuated their posts in the lead-up to the June 1967 War) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) along Israel’s northern border (who have failed in their mandate to prevent the re-arming of Hezbollah).  Furthermore, the international community has consistently shown little regard for the Jewish attachment to holy sites, most recently seen in UNESCO’s 2010 declaration that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron is “an integral part of the Palestinian territories.”
An additional problem with “special arrangement” proposals is that they tend to require more intimate and extensive cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians rather than granting the “divorce” from one another that both sides seem to be seeking through a peace deal. And this cooperation must succeed in the most sensitive of all locations.
Unlike these untested proposals, Israel has proven over the past four decades that its authority over all of Jerusalem can ensure protection of and access to holy sites. Since Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, pilgrims of all faiths have generally been allowed to visit the holy places of all religions. Muslim mosques, even those built atop the mount where Judaism’s Holy Temple once stood, operate relatively freely – and under Islamic religious oversight. While some might contest that Israel does periodically place security restrictions upon entrance to holy sites, free access is the default policy under Israeli rule.
But resolving the status of the Old City of Jerusalem is not just about geography nor about the practicalities of access to a single site; it is deeply intertwined with questions of national identity, history, and theology. Proposals for joint sovereignty, deferred sovereignty, or even divine sovereignty ignore the deep-rooted significance of the holy city. The search for a “split the difference” compromise also ignores the fact that the Old City of Jerusalem has been the national capital of the Jewish people for the past 3000 years and is Judaism’s holiest site, while it is Mecca that plays that role for Muslims. The international community would never expect the Islamic world to cede sovereignty over Mecca; the Jewish people ought to be accorded no less respect with regard to the Old City of Jerusalem.
One reason peace in the Middle East has not yet been possible is because most efforts to achieve it have been aspirational but untethered from reality. It is clear that re-dividing Jerusalem is neither feasible nor prudent. The international community must take off the table the option of dividing Jerusalem, in the same way that they have ended the debate over a “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees. A sustainable peace can only be achieved with the entirety of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
Editor’s Note: This article was corrected to refer to the United Nations Emergency Force, not the Multinational Force and Observer.