Backlash to EU court ruling requiring labeling of products

European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, Nov. 18, 2006. Photo courtesy of Cédric Puisney/Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS) – Jewish and pro-Israel groups blasted the ruling by the European Court of Justice requiring products coming from the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to be labeled as such and not “made in Israel.”

The court decided, “Israel is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity.”

The decision stemmed from a case brought by brought by Israeli wine producer and exporter Psagot Winery Ltd., along with the Lawfare Project.

The Lawfare Project said the decision by the European Union high court not only “supports derogatory French-labeling requirements imposed on Israeli products, but it also mandates similar requirements throughout the E.U.”

The Weaponization Of Law
The American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute said that the ruling would make peace harder to achieve.

“As supporters of a negotiated two-state solution, we believe that discriminatory labeling won’t help to advance peace. The weaponization of E.U. consumer protection law will complicate finding an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, which can only succeed in the diplomatic—not the judicial—arena,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute.

“The blunt instrument of across-the-board labeling doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the conflict as, for instance, the rules also apply to the settlement blocs adjacent to the Green Line, which will remain Israeli in any conceivable future peace deal,” he continued. “What’s more, labeling is even mandated in the Golan Heights, a territory that has no connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and luckily is no longer under the control of the murderous [Bashar] Assad regime, and his Iranian and Russian accomplices.”

Green Light for BDS
In a statement, B’nai B’rith International president Charles Kaufman and CEO Daniel Mariaschin noted that the ruling cannot be appealed and is binding.

“Without a doubt, this new policy’s implications for E.U. positions on Israel will be a green light for BDS supporters and the singling out of Israel for further criticism and attack,” they said. “The decision negatively impacts the peace process, seeks to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and works against purported E.U. support for a directly negotiated, mutually agreeable solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”

European Jewish Association chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement, “The entire basis of the labeling policy is purely discriminatory against the world’s only Jewish state. Is any other country in the world with disputed territory subjected to such a blatantly one-sided policy? The answer is no. It also goes against the international standard of trade set by the World Trade Organization. What is particularly galling is the message this sends to the Israeli public today.”

Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress North America, said, “Today’s unfortunate decision by the court sadly plays into the hands of those who would advance the goals of the BDS campaign which, instead of supporting peace, undermines it. It prejudices any chance for reinvigorating direct talks between the parties, as mandated by U.N. resolutions, with its one-sided ban on Israeli products.

“The stigma placed upon these areas targeted by the decision serve to hurt the livelihoods of the Palestinians employed in them, who earn more than they would be paid by Palestinian employers, and undermines regional economic stability,” she emphasized. “We very much regret this ruling and the negative repercussions it will have.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations said in a statement: “We find this ruling to be profoundly repugnant, as it blatantly discriminates against Israeli products with a double standard that is not applied to other sovereign nations involved in territorial disputes.”

“There are over 200 ongoing territorial disputes across the world, yet the court has not rendered a single ruling related to the labeling of products originating in these areas,” continued the group. “E.U.-related bodies unfortunately have a record of unequal treatment of Israel on legal and other matters, and the singling out of Israeli products for labeling echoes some of the darkest periods in Jewish history. The court’s decision inappropriately puts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is political in nature, into the judicial sphere.”

“The outrageous labeling ruling by the E.U. court facilitates discriminatory boycotts against the Jewish state. Rather than isolate Israel, the nations of the world should stand with Israel as her citizens face rocket attacks from Palestinian terrorists,” tweeted the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

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