An Excerpt From
"When Should We Stop Hating?"
The OU's Pardes Project for Yom HaShoah
By Sam Orbaum
BEWARE OF THE ORBAUM BOYCOTT
Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem
Call me eccentric, but I like to feel good about where
my money goes. Some time ago, I began to notice our kitchen oven was not working so well. I put
in it a frozen chicken, turned a couple of dials, and in a couple of hours it became
apparent that the best that I can hope for was a thawed chicken in maybe four days.
It was the excuse that I needed to go buy a new one. I told the store owner what I wanted,
and he led me to a beautiful, gleaming work of art, assuring me it was utterly perfect for
And what's more, it happened to be on sale. The best
for the least, what more can I ask for? I was bedazzled. Then I remembered, "Where's
it made?" I asked. Beaming he answered: "Germany," "Show me something
else," I said. His eyes popped. "But sir they make the best ovens in the
world." Which is precisely why I won't buy it, I said through clenched teeth.
He did not understand.
Controlling my anger, I asked him if the words "Germany" and "ovens"
didn't have any special, odious significance.
Call me eccentric, but I like to feel good about where my money goes. I call it
conscientious consumerism. It's my own way of saying there's a price to pay: kill six
million of my people, and you've lost my business. Yeah, I take such things personally.
I've been putting my money where my principles are since I was young. It started with
German products: it is now rather out of control.
I can't make a simple choice without those mental voices of Good and Evil getting
"Wooh, there: you really gonna watch that movie starring that Jew-baiting witch
"So what, she's gonna get paid extra if he watches it on TV? Let him watch; it
doesn't mean he supports her politics."
Was I the only Israeli supporting ITV's noble boycott of Roald Dahl a few years ago?
When the Olympics come around, or the World Cup, I agonize. Whom should I root for,
Brazil, which gave sanctuary to Nazis, or Greece, which kowtows to Arab terrorists.
France, with its awful record of political prostitution, or England with its antipathy to
Zionism? I know, I know - to most people its just a soccer game, or track meet. But to me
it's the Jewish Question.
"You won't buy German," the voice drones at me, "but you'll buy olive oil
made in Spain? Have you forgotten?"
"That was 505 years ago," its alter ego responds.
"Yeah well maybe the farmer who grew the olives to make that oil is a direct
descendent of an Inquisitor."
"And maybe he's a Jew."
It should have been easy taking a stand against one country, if not for that voice.
"You desire war on Germany, but not Poland?"
"OK then Germany and Poland."
"Italy was on their side. And the Austrians, feh. What about the Russians, Latvians,
Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Yugoslavians-"
"OK, OK, so all of Europe."
"And Canada was so nice to us during the war? What, there's no anti-Semitism in
"...the non-aligned countries, the former Communist Bloc, the Moslem world..."
I CANNOT with a clear conscious patronize anyone anymore. Well, not quite: after I
eliminate everyone who's ever given us a rough time (all of Christendom, for instance),
there's not much left but certain undiscovered jungle tribesmen who've never heard of the
Jews. Though I can never be certain: for all I know their ancestors may have been
cannibals who once ate one.
I can't even buy a nice Jaffa orange without wondering: was the fertilizer imported?
Here's a perfect example: my life insurance policy. I chose a nice Israeli company-which
was recently bought out by Generali, which, it was revealed recently, refused to honor
insurance policies on Holocaust victims unless the Nazis were thoughtful enough to issue a
I can't buy Swiss anymore. Swiss-made used to be an wonderful alternative to German made,
but now? G-d forbid I should enrich those thieving bastards. (That's why I refuse to get
one of those secret Swiss bank accounts-because they tend to be kept secret from the
I could survive nicely if I bought nothing but Japanese. To them we're just White people.
They're are not of a religion we've ever been at odds with. They never once had an
anti-Semitic pogrom. But I can't buy Japanese because they boycotted us. Which is why I
And Pepsi, you'll never see me drinking a Pepsi. It was convenient and profitable for
Pepsi to stick it to us, while Coke refused to bend to extortion. Now that it's convenient
and profitable for Pepsi to take our money without weighing morality, should I abandon the
cola that remained loyal to me? Uh-uh: Coke, for me, is it.
(Here's my own version of the Pepsi Challenge: I'd like to dare a Pepsi PR person to drop
by my office with a case of the sniff, to see what I do with it. I will then invite the
world media to a press conference, to be held in The Jerusalem Post toilets, to
demonstrate the disdain.)
You Must, understand, I'm not one of those Jews who sees an anti-Semite under every rock.
I would guess that 2 percent of them hate us, 2 percent love us and 96 percent of them
have no opinion. (The poll has 100 percent margin of error.) It's just that once this
ethical snowball started rolling it had a snowball's hope in hell of stopping.
I've tried to stop this silliness, to buy without conscience, to put my considerations
first, even if it meant patronizing a company that got rich in Jewish slave labor. But I
found that taking a Bayer's aspirin made me feel sick.
Funny thing is, I have no problem buying Arab products. Maybe because they have
justifiable reasons for hating us, I don't know. The difference is, I suppose, the measure
of cynicism in the antipathy, Nah. That sounds like I know what I'm talking about; what it
amounts to is a gut feeling. I'd sooner buy a Palestinian beer than a German one...
supporting a current enemy rather than a reformed former one.
"Flawed logic," says one of the voices.
Don't think me completely wacko. I buy American. Abiding by the Apathetic ninety-six
Percent Theory, I can usually ignore the Voices' debate and buy French, British, yes even
Swiss. (But not Pepsi.) I've even compromised my credo to the extent that I own a fortune
in Disney videos, not withstanding Walt's (allegedly) legendary anti-Semitism. Like, what
am I gonna tell my kids-that I won't buy them Pocahontas because some long dead guy
wrinkled his nose at Jews 50 years ago?
But sometimes that old persecution complex kicks in, and I wonder just who the hell is
profiting from this here Jew. On days like that, I check my PBL (personal boycott list),
and find that I can, with clear conscience, buy nothing imported but smoked fish and jam,
because I can only patronize Denmark and Bulgaria.
Oh, yes. And anything we import from Micronesia.
The OU Pardes Torah Project is a
community service of the Orthodox Union.
Should you have any further questions about OU Pardes, please don't
hesitate to call us at 212-613-8300.
The OU Pardes Torah Project is also available for college campuses,
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