In a letter to ICANN, several Kosher certification organizations, responsible for certification of approximately 63% of kosher ingredients worldwide, objected to the “unequal treatment of the new gTLD applications for .Kosher and .halal
The letter was sent on “behalf of leading kosher certification organizations the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU Kosher), STAR-K Kosher Certification, Inc. (STAR-K), Chicago Rabbinical Council, Inc. (cRc), Kosher Supervision Service, Inc. (Kof-K), and The Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) who wrote:
“We were surprised and disappointed that the GAC, and ICANN in response, rightly raised concerns about the .halal gTLD application without raising those same concerns about the .kosher application.
“The purpose of this letter is to urge ICANN to afford equal treatment to these similarly situated cases and not to provide preferred treatment to one religious group over another.”
“The GAC Beijing Communiqué issued on April 11, 2013 included, in relevant part, the following advice to the ICANN Board:”
“The GAC recognizes that Religious terms are sensitive issues.”
“Some GAC members have raised sensitivities on the applications that relate to Islamic terms, specifically .islam and .halal.
“The GAC members concerned have noted that the applications for .islam and .halal lack community involvement and support. It is the view of these GAC members that these applications should not proceed.”
“The Communications and Information Technology Commission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has urged ICANN to deny the .halal gTLD application and provided public comments to ICANN indicating the following: “Halal . . . is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food or actions deemed permissible according to Islamic law.”
“The word “kosher” is an adaptation of the Hebrew word meaning “fit” or “proper.”
“It refers to foodstuffs that meet the dietary requirements of Jewish Law. These dietary laws originate in the Bible and have been observed by Jews for more than 3,000 years. In contrast to the longstanding use of the word kosher by the undersigned kosher certification organizations, and the understanding of such usage by Jews from around the world, the .kosher gTLD application specifically states that the applicant intends to limit the registration and use of second-level .kosher domain names to use by only the applicant or those persons or entities that are affiliated with the applicant
“The proposed operation of .kosher also violates the GAC’s Advice to the ICANN Board pertaining to both Restricted Access and Exclusive Access gTLDs.”
“The .kosher applicant has reserved the option of operating, without transparency and non-discriminatory registration policies, as a closed or highly restricted registry.”
“The application even brazenly describes in part the mission of the .kosher gTLD as promoting the applicant and its clients.”
“As with the .halal gTLD application identified in the GAC Communiqué, the .kosher gTLD application is comprised of a religious term and the application lacks legitimate community involvement and support.”
“In accordance with ICANN’s longstanding commitment to rendering decisions objectively and fairly, and providing equal treatment of parties in equivalent positions, it is appropriate for ICANN to provide equal treatment of the .halal and .kosher gTLD applications by denying both applications.”
“The .kosher gTLD application raises the same religious sensitivities referenced in the GAC Beijing Communiqué related to the .halal gTLD application. ”
“Therefore, it is appropriate for ICANN to provide equal treatment of the .halal and .kosher gTLD applications by denying both applications.”
The letter was signed by Rabbi Ari Senter, Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Dr. Avrom Pollak, Rabii Sholem Fishbane, and Rabbi S. Adler.
The new gTLD for .Kosher was applied for by Kosher Marketing Assets LLC of Brooklyn New York, whose application is supported by Afilias and has a prioritization number of 1,777.
According to its application “The mission of the .KOSHER TLD is to promote Kosher food certification in general, and OK Kosher Certification and its clients in particular.”
“All registrations in .Kosher will be managed by Kosher Marketing Assets, LLC on behalf of OK Kosher Certification. ”
“Only those clients who pass rigorous certification will be granted use of domains under this TLD. Given existing data on certification and a conservative forecast for adoption of .KOSHER domains, we forecast having approximately 636 Domains Under Management (DUMs) by the third year of operation.”
The problem with the letter from the Kosher Organizations is that the application for .kosher was not specifically mentioned by the GAC where the application for .Halal was.
“The GAC recognizes that Religious terms are sensitive issues. Some GAC members have raised sensitivities on the applications that relate to Islamic terms, specifically .islam and .halal. The GAC members concerned have noted that the applications for .islam and .halal lack community involvement and support. It is the view of these GAC members that these applications should not proceed.”
However the GAC did not mention .kosher.
It seems that the Kosher organizations have its beef with the GAC more than with ICANN. Although ICANN can take the position that .kosher is similar to .islam and .halal the GAC did not advise that the application for .kosher be denied.
The application for .halal was filed by Asia Green IT System Bilgisayar San. ve Tic. Ltd sti
Here is how the applicant for .halal describes the TLD:
“The word “HALAL”: is one of the most fundamental concepts of the Islam religion.
Halal (Arabic: حلال ḥalāl, ʺlawfulʺ) is used to designate any object or an action which is permissible under to Islamic law.
The term halal is therefore applied to many facets of Muslim life; one of the most common being in reference to meat products, food contact materials, and pharmaceuticals. The halal concept has slowly become accepted as a consumer lifestyle choice encompassing not only religious practices and food, but also finance, non-food products and logistics and this is a trend has gathered significant momentum recently. However, the common understanding of halal is still limited to religious needs and only applicable to Muslims.””