Stewart Ain’s article on kosher Meals Ready to Eat (“Pentagon Said To Hustle On Kosher Rations Mess,” Feb. 7] leaves the reader with a skewed picture that needs to be clarified.
Agudath Israel of America has never stated that the Pentagon had intentions of putting an end to the kosher MRE program. We made it clear that the “cancellation” (this is the Pentagon’s own terminology) pertained only to the kosher part of the 2013 kosher/halal solicitation and that the department had expressed its intention to re-solicit for kosher MREs in the near future. Our concerns revolved around how long the solicitation process would take and what procedures would be in place for Jewish service personnel in the interim.
Stating that “alarms bells” went off at Agudath Israel when the Pentagon “awarded a contract for halal field rations for Muslim soldiers but had not even solicited bids for kosher field rations” is not only inaccurate but unduly sensationalizes the story. As noted, a solicitation for both kosher and halal was made, and when no bids for kosher were forthcoming, the decision was made to award the halal contract and re-solicit for kosher. To intimate that this was a story of “Pentagon anti-Semitism” or of “Muslim versus Jew” is a distortion of what went on here. We have stated that we have no reason to believe that any improper motive or intent lay behind these decisions or events.
We are pleased that the Pentagon has put the procurement of the kosher MRE on a fast track and that it is committed to accommodating the religious dietary needs of Jewish military personnel.
Agudath Israel of America Washington Office