There have been protests over the weekend in favour of boycotting Israeli goods, and one of these was on Holborn, in central London, on Saturday afternoon. As a precaution, the store manager of a Sainsbury’s store that was being picketed by the demonstrators ordered that kosher goods be temporarily withdrawn from display. It was put in chilled storage and restored to display later in the day.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
Now, kosher simply means that the food has been deemed fit for consumption in accordance with traditions that can be traced back to the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It will carry a symbol on its container to show this. So it does not have to have originated in Israel; the country of origin is immaterial. But, by the same token, protestors may not be sophisticated enough to understand this.
What happened was an expedient decision by a store manager, nothing more. So who would like to show an appropriate sense of proportion? As if you need to ask: from the safety of a suitably secure Manhattan apartment, Louise Mensch went in with both feet. “Rather than call the Police on demonstrators they took Kosher food OFF their shelves ... that is disgusting ... you are sick ... how dare you”.
And that was just the warm-up: “Sainsbury’s are the scum of the earth ... for taking away kosher food rather than contacting Police. Evil racism ... they have no right to remove kosher food ... and discriminate against Jews, instead of just CALLING POLICE”. Yes, she’s a SUN COLUMNIST and so puts IMPORTANT words in CAPITALS. And who’s to say the cops weren’t there anyway, or on their way?
Whatever. “Imagine if the EDL was demonstrating outside Sainsbury’s, would they remove all Halal food? Would they hell ... when a bunch of racist bastards demonstrate outside your store Sainsbury’s, don’t you continue that racism”. Darned easy stuff, shooting your mouth off from 3,000 miles away, isn’t it?
Eventually, she got to the point: “Dear Sainsbury’s, kosher is JEWISH food. Israel is a COUNTRY. How dare you equate Jews’ food to ISRAEL, how dare you ... should have CALLED POLICE rather than perpetrate a RACIST ACT in regards to kosher food”. As I said, we all know that kosher does not equal Israel, but as pointed out earlier, your average protestor might not be quite up to speed on that.
It’s called a precaution. And now a false equivalence and assumption: “Sainsbury’s staff confirmed as racists who said ‘Free Gaza’ to customer and therefore removed kosher food from shelves ... racism outside the Sainsbury’s store, racism inside the Sainsbury’s store”. Someone supporting the lifting of the blockade on Gaza is not committing a racist act by doing so.
Armchair critics have become keyboard heroes, but only within their own echo chambers. The rest of us inhabit the real world, where life isn’t so simple.