November 13, 2019
News Press Release

ZOA Condemns EU Court Decision to Require Labeling of Israeli Products from Judea/Samaria

PSAGOT, PEAK 2016 / CASTEL, PETIT CASTEL 2017 / TABOR, MALKIYA 2015 (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), based in Luxembourg, has ruled that products from Jewish –– and only Jewish, because they are Jewish –– enterprises based in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) across the 1949 armistice lines must be labeled, as such to enable consumers to make what it described as “ethically informed choices.” These choices, the Court held, were related not only to health, economic, environmental, and social considerations, but also to ethical concerns and considerations relating to the observance of international law. The Court ruling not only supports French labeling requirements imposed on Israeli products, but also mandates similar requirements throughout the EU (‘Foods from Israeli settlements must be labeled as such, European top court rules,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 12, 2019).

 

This CJEU decision thus mandates religious discrimination, treating Jewish-owned and Muslim-owned businesses differently, even if they operate in the same geographic location. The ZOA regards this as a subtle form of Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS), despite the Court’s assertion that it does not support BDS. 

“There is no reason for products produced by Muslims and Jews in the same geographic place to be labeled differently. In fact, treating people differently because of their religion is the very definition of discrimination.”

 

As the Court itself admits, “the provision of information to consumers must enable them to make informed choices, with regard not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations and considerations relating to the observance of international law. The Court underlined in that respect that such considerations could influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.” (‘Foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin, accompanied, where those foodstuffs come from an Israeli settlement within that territory, by the indication of that provenance,’ Press Release, No 140/19, Luxembourg, 12 November 2019.)

 

The ZOA also points out that such discrimination amounts to an anti-Semitic double standard, inasmuch as no other countries have been similarly targeted, irrespective of its human rights record. 

 

As Eugene Kontorovich, an international legal scholar who has held professorships at Northwestern University and the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, has observed, “Products around the world are made in many situations that raise “ethical” and legal questions, from Chinese prison labor factories to Moroccan drilling Sahrawi oil. Only such concern that requires labeling in EU is Jews living in neighborhoods where they are not ‘supposed’ to be.”

 

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Chairman Mark Levenson said, “The ZOA condemns this disgraceful CJEU ruling, which entrenches discrimination against Israel, fortifies the BDS campaign, even in the act of stating that it is not supporting BDS, and amounts to a pernicious, politicized double standard aimed at delegitimizing Israel and its lawful claim to the territory of Judea/Samaria. 

 

“These territories were part of the area earmarked for Jewish settlement as long ago as the 1920 San Remo settlement, incorporated in the subsequent League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and never subsequently superseded or rescinded by any binding international agreement.

 

“This ruling is clearly and deeply politicized and has nothing to do with advancing or improving food safety or consumer protection. 

 

“There is no reason for products produced by Muslims and Jews in the same geographic place to be labeled differently. In fact, treating people differently because of their religion is the very definition of discrimination.

 

“It also potentially creates new barriers to international trade, which might additionally cause those European countries which seek to implement the ruling to violate EU’s World Trade Organization obligations.

 

“As boycotts are illegal in the U.S., it is not surprising that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has warned of the negative implications for U.S.-EU relations and trade, saying that this decision would ‘create policy tensions with the United States.’

 

“EU states should ignore the CJEU ruling and work for its rescission at the earliest possible opportunity.”