The Chief Rabbinate released an urgent statement this week, warning the Israeli public against Coca-Cola manufactured in the West Bank town of Beitunia, near Ramallah, which is marketed alongside the strictly kosher beverage that has been manufactured in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak for the past decades.
According to the statement, written by Rabbi Yaakov Sabag, director of the Chief Rabbinates Kashrut Department, and Rabbi Rafi Yochai, head of the Kashrut Fraud Division, "We have recently discovered the marketing of a four-pack Coca-Cola, in which each bottle carries a caption in Arabic with no kashrut mark.
"This product is being sold for a reduced price and has created confusion among the population, as the brand is known to be kosher in Israel. An inquiry has revealed that the product is manufactured in the village of Beitunia, near Jerusalem, without any kosher supervision."
Businesses supervised by the Rabbinate were asked in the letter to avoid selling the Coke bottles from Beitunia, even if there is allegedly no fear that the beverage is not kosher. Moreover, many kashrut observers around the world buy the brand in local stores even without a kosher mark, and it is perceived as kosher.
Nonetheless, the Rabbinate wrote in its warning, businesses must avoid selling the Palestinian drink "due to the educational aspect, so as not to get the public used to purchasing products without a kosher mark."
Chief Rabbinate Spokesman Ziv Maor says that Coca-Cola is made in Israel and abroad according to the company's secret and accurate formula, yet there is no way of knowing whether a factory which is not supervised by the Rabbinate uses the machine that produces the Coke to pack other drinks which are not kosher, such as camel milk.
The warning, he adds, is aimed at making it clear to be public that it must only consume beverages manufactured in a factory supervised by the Rabbinate.
The Coca-Cola Israel company said it had nothing to do with the production of the beverage in the Palestinian Authority. "There is no need to mention that all our products are under the fine supervision of Rabbi Landa and the Tel Aviv Rabbinate," the company noted in a statement.