The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is supporting a petition signed by 39 Members of the Knesset calling upon the Israeli public to reconsider availing themselves of British goods and services in response to a recent British government initiative to recommend to all U.K. retail chains the placing of prominent labels indicating products imported from Jewish enterprises and factories operating in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.
The British Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recommended that Jewish products made in Judea and Samaria be identified as Israeli settlement produce, while non-Jewish goods be accompanied by the description Palestinian produce. The Department also stated that traders would be committing an offense if they declared produce from the area as produce of Israel. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor noted, It looks like it is catering to the demands of those whose ultimate goal is the boycott of Israeli products. Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin, has called the petition correct and important and suggested it be translated into English and sent to his counterpart in the British Parliament (Boycott Britain, Suggests Kadima MK, Israel National News, December 17, 2009).
The petition, which has been signed by members of major Israeli political parties, calls upon the British government to overturn immediately this decision that casts a shadow on the economic cooperation between citizens of the countries. We hope there will not be a need for additional action to demonstrate the severity with which we view the recommendation, which amounts de facto to encouraging a boycott on Israeli goods. Signatories include including Labor MKs Eitan Cabel and Amir Peretz and Kadima MKs Zeev Elkin and Avi Dichter.
MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), who initiated the petition, said that if the British labeling continues, she will consider drafting a bill that will obligate British products in Israel to be labeled. Tirosh even contacted the accountant general in the Finance Ministry with a request that trips made by public figures on British Airways not be recognized. (Knesset responds to labeling of goods from West Bank settlements in UK, calls public to reconsider using services of British companies, Yediot Ahronot, December 17, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA supports this petition by Members of Knesset and is pleased to see it has attracted the support of members of all major parties from the left, center and the right as well as the Speaker of the Knesset. It is vitally important that fellow democracies refrain from any form of economic boycott and other hostile acts.
Distinguishing products produced by Jewish Israelis from Judea, Samaria and the Golan from other products produced there or within Israels pre-1967 borders simply facilitates the agenda of Israel boycotters who wish harm Israel economically. It is part of an agenda to delegitimize Jewish life and development in communities that have every legal and moral right to exist and flourish. It is past time for countries that call themselves friends of Israel to cease attempting to damage Israeli interests and those that dont should start paying a price. We applaud the sentiment, intent and measures recommended in this petition and hope it will have a salutary effect in London.