I was heartened by the recent news that Adidas are dropping their association with Kanye West, following his remarks about Jews, which were somewhere between deeply offensive and bat**** crazy. I was beginning to think that David Baddiel may be wrong when he argues that 'Jews Don't Count' in his excellent book of that name.
And then comes the almost incredible news that the German arm of Kentucky Fried Chicken, purveyors of cheap chicken in a bucket, sent a promotional message to their customers via their app on Wednesday suggesting that they commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht with some cheesy chicken. The exact message read "It's memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!"
Kristallnacht, or 'The night of broken glass', occurred on the 9th November 1938. It involved numerous attacks on Jewish people, synagogues and Jewish owned homes and businesses. 90 people died and the event was a precursor to the mass-murder that was to come. For some people, who were lucky enough to be able to get a visa for the UK or the USA or another safe haven, Kristallnacht was the last straw in the rise of antisemitism under the Nazis. They escaped from Germany, usually leaving everything behind. Sadly, millions of others could not escape the fate that awaited them, including many members of my own family.
It is reported that after an hour or so, KFC realised their mistake, and sent another message that apparently read "We are very sorry, we will check our internal processes immediately so that this does not happen again. Please excuse this error." Please excuse this error? I know that a favourite antisemitic trope is that Jews are unforgiving, taking an 'Old Testament' attitude to forgiveness, but I am afraid this lame apology cuts no ice with me.
KFC then made a statement to a newspaper, blaming a bot, saying the "automated push notification" was "linked to calendars that include national observances". KFC "sincerely" apologised for the "unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message". They also said they are reviewing the app messaging functionality. I bet they are.
"We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all." Really? Because that is not how it feels to me. If KFC Germany really understood the gravity and history of Kristallnacht and were genuinely committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all, they never would have sent the message in the first place.
But then again, as David Baddiel has already observed, perhaps Jews Don't Count.
"How wrong can you get on Kristallnacht KFC Germany. Shame on you!" Dalia Grinfeld, the associate director of European affairs at the Jewish NGO Anti-Defamation League