Ask The Rabbi

IBM

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: German, Boycotting

Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

As a Jew and IBM employee, I feel very uncomfortable about the recent revelations about IBM's involvement in supplying computer equipment to the Nazi regime. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about it. What are your views on this? Thanks.

(If you publish this, please do not use my name.)


Dear Name@Withheld,

I think this is more a matter of feeling and sensitivity than a matter of Halacha. I can't tell you how to feel; I can only tell you how I feel.

I personally do not find the idea of working for IBM to be reprehensible. If you scratch the surface of a myriad of different companies that were in business during the Second World War, I have no doubt you will find many that had connections to the Nazi regime. Also, even if you were to leave IBM and go work for Microsoft, for example, established years after the war, the company itself is based on IBM technological know-how. Where do you draw the line?

I feel the same approach applies to buying German goods. Some wonder, "After the holocaust, how can a Jew buy German goods?" I understand this sentiment, but if so, we shouldn't buy Spanish goods either, or goods from any country where anti-Semitic atrocities were public policy. (That doesn't leave too many countries!)

I took my family to Disneyland a few years ago and we had a wonderful time, even though Walt Disney himself was an avowed anti-Semite and did not hire Jews or blacks. Today, of course this is not the case, and even the CEO of Disney is Jewish.


 
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