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Why Is Jewish Food Delivery Service Kosher.com Teaming Up With Ex-Gay Group JONAH?

Are you a Jewish recovering homosexual? Would you like kosher food delivered to your door? Then boy do we have an offer for you! Kosher.com, where customers can have some 5,000 different kosher food items sent to their homes, has teamed up with Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality for a special coupon program! Just enter “JONAH25P” at checkout and JONAH will receive a portion of the proceeds. Because Kosher.com has no problem teaming up with homophobic groups trafficking in psychological terrorism. UPDATE: The company responds. UPDATE: Kosher.com has cut ties with JONAH.

Queerty reader Jayson Littman, of the gay Jewish events outfit MyHeBro.com, tells us that after spending five years as a JONAH member before coming out (though he says he remains on good terms with their directors), he’s still on the organization’s email list — which just alerted subscribers to its deal with Kosher.com.

See, Kosher.com, like plenty of e-commerce websites, runs an affiliate program. The food site let’s non-profit groups — and, apparently, anyone else — sign up to get a cut of any sales it drives to the site. (It looks like the site’s affiliates get 7 percent of receipts.) Which is a pretty noble undertaking, except Kosher.com just admitted it’s perfectly happy to get into bed with ex-gay groups.

In a note to Kosher.com, Jayson wrote:

I was saddened to receive an email from a friend who noted that you are offering a discount (JONAH25P) and a portion of proceeds to JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). I, myself, am a gay Jew who keeps kosher who uses kosher.com and has other friends who shop at your site as well. I am dissapointed that kosher.com who offers many kosher-keeping gay Jews the opportunity to remain kosher in an easy way (as many of us dont live in kosher-store type neighborhoods) is supporting an organization that believes we can change. I believe that the services of kosher.com should remain what it does best — offering its kosher customers the opportunity to buy kosher food and not involve itself in the gay debate. By offering this discount, you are sending a message to us of where you stand on this issue and what your beliefs are.

Oh but Jayson, you made the mistake that all of Chick-fil-A’s critics did! Just because Kosher.com does business with an anti-gay group doesn’t mean they are anti-gay themselves! (Hah.) Responding to Jayson was a one Aliza Cohn, a member of Kosher.com’s affiliate marketing team, who wrote:

We are sorry to hear that you were disturbed with our affiliation with Jonah. However ,we do not have any political agenda Anyone can join our affiliate program. Our company does not have an opinion on the matter. We will create emails for any non-profit organization that is in need of funds. If you have any further questions or concerns I can get you in touch with someone in the company.

Kosher.com, based in New York, claims it doesn’t get all politic-y, so it doesn’t take an organization’s platform into account when deciding who gets to be an affiliate. OH REALLY! So if organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week wanted to team up, they could? How about the White Aryan Resistance? Or maybe the Institute for Historical Review, which has links to neo-Nazi groups and spews Holocaust denial rhetoric? All technically could qualify as a “non-profit organization that is in need of funds.” And if that’s Kosher.com’s only criteria for becoming an affiliate, then yes, they are admitting they are willing to do business with hate groups. (We reached out to Ms. Cohn about her email comments, and she responds in an email she’s “just an employee at kosher.com” and directed us to her manager; we’ll let you know what we hear. Update: See response below.)

Unsatisfied, Jayson responded:

Thanks for your speedy response. I am sure that non-profit organizations that spread hateful messages about Jewish people wouldnt be considered for the kosher.com affiliate program and I would assume that kosher.com has the social responsibility to investigate organizations that ir partners with and would not just affiliate themselves with “any non-profit organization that is in need of funds”. By allowing JONAH to be a part of your affiliate program, you are becoming part of the “political agenda” as many of your clients believe that JONAH is an organization that promotes non-acceptance of gay Jews within the religious or non-religious community.

Now why is letting the New Jersey-based JONAH siphon off some of your receipts such a big deal? Because despite it’s carefully worded mission statement — “a non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions. JONAH works directly with those struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions (SSA) and with families whose loved ones are involved in homosexuality” — JONAH is, like Exodus International, focused wholly on “converting” gay Jews to straight Jews, because somehow heterosexuality is the only way not to offend god or something. Co-founders Arthur Abba Goldberg (pictured) and Elaine Silodor Berk claim they can “help those seeking a choice to leave the homosexual lifestyle.” What they really do is force gay people to deny their true selves and help destroy identities and families.

But why would Kosher.com care about any of that? Like Target, it’s not about “political agendas,” but dolla dolla bills. Hmmm. Then maybe Kosher.com will care about JONAH counselor Alan Downing’s special techniques for turning gays straight, like having men “mentally masturbate” over Skype while he watches? Or maybe they’d be interested to know JOHAN co-founder Goldberg was convicted of defrauding the federal government in a bond scheme, as well as mail and wire fraud?

Goldberg believes “people are not born gay,” and in taking advantage of business ties for his personal benefit.

Happy Passover!

UPDATE: Kosher.com’s director of sales Michael Wosk responds:

As a private organization Kosher.com reserves all rights to affiliate with any and all third parties without incorporating said parties views. Kosher.com does not hold any views political or otherwise. Any issues should be forwarded to the affiliate in question. All further emails regarding this matter will be deemed answered by said response. We apologize for the misunderstanding and we hope this will not effect any future business with our company.

Something tells me this will affect future business with your company. But not from me. I eat pork.

UPDATE: Kosher.com has cut ties with JONAH. Read the update here

By:           JD
On:           Apr 7, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 22 Comments
    • The sane Francis
      The sane Francis

      At the very least, don’t play us gays as stupid. If you are going to associate with homophobes, promote homophobia or be homophobic, be upfront about it. This passive aggressive bullshit and excuse making makes these actions even more offensive.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tiger!
      Tiger!

      What kind of people put business relationships ahead of clear moral imperatives to not provide funding for organizations that emotionally terrorize people, strip them of basic human rights, and promote discrimination and violence causing stigma. This callous disregard for humanity in favor of private business relationships is even sadder read against the history of anti-semitic stereotypes and Jewish history.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      JONAH .. really? Jonah was the guy who was swallowed by a sperm whale until the whale ejected him because he wasn’t Kosher.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Luke
      Luke

      It’s one thing to say, “We’re a private business and we’ll do bottom line friendly actions with affiliates in the retail sector without endorsing any political agenda.” I don’t think their would be any backlash if they formed agreements with Target, for example. But they are pretending that they can both take no position on homophobia & pursue a marketing campaign targeting homophobes explicitly that funnels cash into a homophobic organization. What absurdity!

      That’s bull-shit and it wouldn’t pass the smell test if the ring were on the other finger. No business would get a free pass from mainstream Jewish organizations for entering into an affiliate relationship with the KKK on the grounds that “a private organization [[with]] all rights to affiliate with any and all third parties without incorporating said [[party's]] views.”

      Pure unadulterated bullshit!

      Apr 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chaim
      Chaim

      the reason why Kosher.com wouldn’t affiliate with anti-Israel organizations isn’t political; I think they are being honest that the company has no political opinions. The reason why they wouldn’t is because it would offend their customers. so they made a judgment that Jonah being an affiliate would not offend Kosher.com shoppers.

      I think this says more about their customers than it does about the company, (or at lease what they think about their customers.)

      @Kev C -

      Apr 7, 2011 at 6:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack E. Jett
      Jack E. Jett

      I interviewed this JONAH jerk before. He started the organization because HIS son came out and moved in with a male lover….at the AGE OF 26 thus causing this fiddler to fall off the roof. So far their treatment hasn’t worked on their son.

      He got overly agitated which always makes me wonder what is really under those shock absorbers they call sideburns.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yehudah
      Yehudah

      Wow Queerty…Quoting Jayson Littman? HAHA! If you believe what he has to say, you might as well believe Kosher.com’s response! “as many of us dont live in kosher-store type neighborhoods” He lives on the UWS! FAIL…

      Apr 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      The problem with this wholly inadequate response, as the article notes, is that Kosher.com is saying it would partner with White supremacist, anti-Catholic, anti-Mormon, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-Asian, racist and/or terrorist groups. Is that what Kosher.com is saying? And if so, is this a business with which ANY American would want to “do business?”

      Apr 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Codswallop
      Codswallop

      So, who wants to call Kosher.com up as a representative of Jews For Jesus and ask to partner with them? Ex-gays, Ex-Jews, it’s all good, right?

      Apr 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wayne Besen
      Wayne Besen

      Do you guys have an e-mail for Mr. Wosk?

      Thanks

      Apr 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jon
      Jon

      After reading the article as well as Mr. Wosk’s response it really doesn’t seem that they are teaming up with JONAH as some political stance but simply as a Jewish non-profit. To compare it with Jews 4 Jesus or a Nazi organization is simply stupid. One can’t compare a group of neo-Nazi’s which want to destroy the Jewish nation and a Jewish group which all though clearly not everyone agrees with, thinks they are doing a good cause for the Jewish community (I happen to not aprove of the group & think they do more harm than good). A fact you seemed to have overlooked is another affiliate of Kosher.com is a Synagogue located in the West Village on NYC called Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, which labels themselves as “The LGBT Synagogue”, the website is here http://www.cbst.org/ So in the end it would seem rather rash that you would deem Kosher.com anti-gay. It seems you did not quite do your homework. Mind you I have no affiliation with Kosher.com, I simply think the food is good, people are nice, and like the service. : )

      Apr 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pat Duffy
      Pat Duffy

      @Jon: And supporting “organizations that “make the trains run on time” for their efficiency is also a business “ethic”. One thing so many have ignoed was facts about what Devout Christians most of the 3rd Reich Leaders were(like a few “ethnic” motifs changed anything. The Pope can wear sweats and isn’t suddenly an athelete…). Strong “Family Values” types. It’s like saying the Republican Party Platform is “only” Political with all it’s pro-Christian theology.
      Of course, most folks aren’t Honest…

      Apr 8, 2011 at 6:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • HOWARD HASSAN
      HOWARD HASSAN

      Kosher.com offers kosher food to anyone who wants to purchase it. As a marketing tool they offer a discount to not for profit organizations that have members that may want to buy the products that are offered. The level of observance of the end user is not their business as is their sexual choices. The customer can be Jewish, Muslim or just someone who wants kosher certified products.By the way if there is a fight to be started go after Muslim hierarchy that has an interesting policy about being gay.
      I can not see that their offering this marketing tool has anything to do with the politics of the company.
      I think that this news article is really much to do about nothing. To make any connection with murderous hate groups and the politics of those groups in any comparison with this situation is absurd.
      Let’s save the anger for the real battles.

      Apr 8, 2011 at 8:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wayne Besen
      Wayne Besen

      JONAH is rightfully compared to other hateful political campaigns of the past. Any LGBT person who thinks otherwise should do something to lift his or her self-esteem. Why the double standard just because you are LGBT?

      Here are a few of the words spewed by JONAH co-founder Arthur Abba Goldberg:

      In 2007, Goldberg told The ‘Jewish State’ that, “gays have been led astray in terms of your authenticity to yourself…People are not born gay; there’s no such thing as a gay gene.” He added that all gays “can readapt” from “their gender deficiency.” He then said gay children should be treated the same way as “if a child was addicted to drugs or alcohol.”

      In 2010, Goldberg spoke at a right wing conference, The Truth Academy, and confused stereotypes with science:

      “By the way, did you notice that a lot of gays who remain in the gay lifestyle also do a lot of body building,” said Goldberg. “They will be in the gym a lot trying to build up their pecs…Because they have these body image issues and don’t feel they are masculine enough.”

      These are just a couple of Goldberg’s backward views. The fact that he might be “well-meaning” is irrelevant. Every monster in history thought their horrible actions would improve the world by purifying it. In the same manner, JONAH is just the latest version of a campaign to purify society to fit an ideology.

      I am Jewish and refuse to let anyone insult my religion. But, I am also gay and won’t let someone insult my sexual orientation or use quack therapies in a harmful and futile effort to make the gay go away.

      Thisis called self-respect. Some of you might want to try it.

      Apr 8, 2011 at 8:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wayne Besen
      Wayne Besen

      One more thing: If defending oneself and the LGBT community from such insidious lies and defamation is not the “real battle” I’m not sure what is.

      Indeed, almost every ill that harms LGBT people, particualrly youth, can be traced backed to the destructive propaganda spewed regularly from groups like JONAH.

      These lies should be quickly debunked at their source — before they take root in society, or further existing prejudice and misconceptions. (More than any group, Jews should know the destructive power of the Big Lie)

      Such work — even more than passing laws — is the real battle. Homophobia comes directly from such harmful teachings and to let them go unchallenged or gain the seeming imprimatur from groups like Kosher.com is unacceptable and wholly destructive to the idea of full social (not just legal) equality.

      You can pass all the laws in the world — but they mean little if the underlying anti-gay myths and cultural disdain remain a strong societal force.

      This is why it is important to hold Kosher.com accountable. We can’t cherish our home-delivered lox more than our loved-ones. Let’s not make excuses or serve as apologists for this company. Kosher.com must understand that they should not be associated with JONAH in any way.

      JONAH is a fringe group of ideologues that has created a trail of victims. It should have no place in the decent corners of society.

      Apr 8, 2011 at 9:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      I’ve just sent this link to a bunch of Jewish Friends with instructions to foreward it out.

      If you want to complain here is their “Contact Us” weblink.

      http://usa.kosher.com/help/contact.html

      Apr 8, 2011 at 11:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ezam
      Ezam

      Let’s do the same thing we did with Apple and demand Kosher.com distance itself from ex-gay groups.

      Apr 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael Wosk
      Michael Wosk

      Firstly we wish to apologize if any action taken by any member of our company offended anyone. Our affiliate program has pretty much been an automated system whereby any site can go and join the program and put our banners in their email blasts going to their members.

      In the past it was not something that we had monitored but considering the current reaction regarding jonahweb.org’s decision to send their members our affiliate offerings, we have decided to discontinue that affiliation and our management will review our affiliate programs guidelines going forward.

      Our agenda is simply to be a good company selling a good product and to be considerate of people’s feelings and sensitivities.

      Thank you

      Michael Wosk
      Kosher.com

      Apr 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Michael Wosk: Thanks, Michael.

      Apr 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • chicagotist
      chicagotist

      @Michael Wosk: Thank you, Michael Wosk.

      Apr 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon
      Shannon

      WHO CARES!!! They are not the REAL jews anyway!! SEMITE means BLACK/MIXED BLACK!!! They are Ashkenazi…or converts to the religion! Youtube the REAL Jews/Hebrews and you will see images of Black people…..you all really believe these people???

      Apr 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TikiHead
      TikiHead

      Thanks Shannon. Very entertaining!

      Apr 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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