It's now 6 months after the USDA sent inspectors into AgriProcessors, Rubashkin's Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse of throat-ripping infamy. In December, shortly after the inspectors left Postville, the USDA issued new training guidelines that would, if followed, shut down an operation like Rubashkin's throat-ripping shechita.
But the USDA has not released findings of its investigation. Why?
Because Orthodox Jews – especially haredim – are perceived to vote in blocks under the direction of their rabbis, and their rabbis want desperately for Rubashkin to be exonerated.
Why are the rabbis so intent on exonerating Rubashkin?
For the following reasons:
- Because their fate is linked with his. FailedMessiah.com has now confirmed that on October 23, 2003, leading rabbis and kosher industry leaders met with the USDA in Washington and lobbied successfully for directives on religious slaughter to be changed. The changes they lobbied for – with the help of Rubashkin's attorney Nathan Lewin – led directly to the throat-ripping and other horrible violations seen on the PETA video.
- Statements issued by the OU, Nathan Lewin and Menachem Lubinsky all acknowledge that throat-ripping was sanctioned by the kosher supervising agencies. A finding of guilt by the USDA could easily open up those agencies to prosecution.
- A finding of guilt would seriously damage the industry's spin on kosher: "It's healthier and it's more humane."
- The rabbis attacked PETA, comparing PETA to the Nazis and implying PETA's primary motivation was antisemitism and not animal welfare. A USDA finding of guilt would effectively destroy the rabbis' spin and further undermine the already shaky relationship between the rabbis and the Jewish public at large.
Look for the USDA results to be published – sometime after the 2006 elections. The Bush Administration cannot afford to alienate rabbis who deliver votes before then.
UPDATE: The report finding Rubashkin violated animal cruelty laws and that USDA inspectors took illegal gifts from Agriprocessors was released on March 9, 2006 – but only after a Freedom of Information request from PETA forced it into the open.
Click here for the NYTimes report on the this and a link to the PDF of the entire (heavily censored) USDA report.