I would like to make a few points about the Agriprocessors boycott debate:
1. Just as many of us will not trust a kosher food-handler who fails to honor the laws of the Sabbath, a food-handler who does not honor U.S. laws on matters of great moral moment cannot be trusted to honor kosher laws. I am ashamed of anyone who would dispute that obvious principle.
2. We can all recall seeing Israel’s reputation or innocent lives ruined by blaring media accusations that were found years later to be completely baseless. The current charges against Agri relate to misdemeanor (not felony) charges for employing 32 people under age 18, but the prosecution’s standard procedure is to brazenly multiply the counts, in this case to 9,311, by adding each technical element of the crime to create a frightening portrait to the jury of a serial criminal and to generate leverage for the expected plea bargain. No one should be convicted by the court of public opinion on the basis of what we hear from the media or the prosecution before a conviction. I am ashamed of anyone who would dispute that equally obvious principle.
3. A call for the boycott of Agriprocessors is essentially a call for economic devastation to Postville, Iowa, and to a multitude of honest employees and other businesses. Apart from the presumption of innocence to which we are all entitled, the countless acts of true charity by the Rubashkin family over many decades and the modesty with which they live their lives have earned them the benefit of the doubt that we would all claim for ourselves. If they are found innocent, and we have destroyed a major business built over 20 years with blood and sweat, how will we make it up to them? If convicted, we should also understand the nature of the actual crimes, and how egregious and deliberate their actions, before we punish them so severely. Even the law does not call for a punishment as severe as the one a boycott would produce. As we ask God to be slow to judge us in the days ahead, we should apply that principle to others as well.