Media ads for non-kosher food “cause substantial harm to the feelings of many Israelis, both religious and traditional,” and such ads should not be allowed in the public space “because of the damage they do to the feelings and position of observant and traditional Jews,” the Movement for a Jewish State wrote in a letter to Nor Schweky, director of the Second Media Authority, responsible for standards and rules for all licensed radio and television stations in Israel other than Kan broadcasts.
The group said that if the ads were not halted, they would petition the High Court on the matter.
The presence of such ads, the letter said, “is a public display of insult and cynicism in the face of a substantial component of the Israeli public. There is no justification for this kind of activity.” The letter specified several examples of ads that featured non-kosher foods on display, mostly by fast food chains, as well as ads by the Tiv Taam and AM:PM supermarket chains, which display non-kosher meat and publicly declare in ads that they operate on Shabbos.
According to the organization, the ads violate the ethical standards of the Second Authority, which state that “a broadcaster may not promote advertisements that harm the dignity of human beings, are in poor taste, or impinge on the feelings of the public.” In addition, “advertisements that broadcast messages with political, social, or economic messages that are a matter of public debate” are banned as well, and the ads in question certainly fit these criteria.
Unlike programs that may feature displays of non-kosher food – which a media consumer would tune in to with prior knowledge – “ads pop up without any prior warning, and they are designed to encourage consumption. In essence, a public platform has been provided for an effort to shape Israeli culture and the country’s character as a Jewish and democratic state, by reducing the impact of the symbols and culture of kashrus, which is an essential part of Judaism and for which Jews over the centuries have sacrificed their lives.” The Second Authority has yet to respond to the letter, the Movement said.