Canada bans ‘Product of Israel’ labels for West Bank wines


Ruling singles out 2 settlement wineries, also blacklists Golan and East Jerusalem vintages; Jewish group calls decision ‘disturbing’

By Sue Surkes and Jacob Magid, TOI

Canadian food inspectors have ordered liquor stores to stop selling wines made in the West Bank, saying their label identifying them as Israeli contravenes Ottawa’s policy on the territory.

Settlers and at least one Canadian Jewish advocacy group reacted with anger to the ruling, which singles out the Psagot and Shiloh wineries, made in settlements outside Ramallah.

News of the order emerged with the issue of a letter Tuesday from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to liquor vendors, detailing the ruling by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency a week earlier “that ‘Product of Israel’ would not be an acceptable country of origin declaration for wine products that have been made from grapes that are grown, fermented, processed, blended and finished in the West Bank occupied territory.”

The ruling extended to wines from “any other territory occupied by Israel in 1967” that carried such a label, which would be “considered misleading,” specifically mentioning the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as the West Bank.

The CFIA is a government body that controls all marketing and sales of wine in Canada.

“I request that all vendors discontinue any importations or sales of products labeled as ‘Products of Israel’ from the wineries named above (or others located in the same regions) until further notice,” the LCBO letter says.

“We are currently seeking clarifications from the CFIA on how such wines should be labeled in order to comply with the Food and Drugs Act.”

In a statement Thursday, B’nai Brith Canada said that it “is expecting that the [CFIA] will soon rescind its recent decision to order the removal of certain Israeli wines from store shelves.“

“B’nai Brith has received a lot of information on this matter from multiple sources and officials during the past 24 hours as we were advocating on behalf of the community,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “We can say now that we are expecting this disturbing decision to be corrected in short order.”

Settlement wineries have boomed in the past decade or so. According to a 2011 report, West Bank settlements are home to 29 of the more than 150 wineries in Israel and its territories, compared to 14 in the famed Golan Heights wine country.

Several West Bank settlement winery owners reported exponential increases in production since the early 2000s, with most of their wines being sold in Israel. Yaakov Berg, Ceo of Psagot Winery, said his operation produced about 300,000 bottles of wine last year and sold about 65 percent of them locally — a hundredfold increase since it opened in 2003.

As one of the most prominent exported products from West Bank settlements and the Golan Heights, wines have been at the forefront of a battle between Israel and the European Union over product labeling.

In 2015, Israel reacted angrily after German department store KeDeWe stopped stocking Golan wines to comply with the labeling rules, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the move amounted to a boycott of the Jewish state.

Yaakov Berg, Psagot Winery’s CEO, said Thursday he was “amazed” at Canada’s decision.

“We are living in Judea and Samaria by historic right. Canada, of all places, which was established and developed on basis of occupying and sacrificing the homeland of another people and which has no roots or historical validity to its existence there, doesn’t recognize the right of a Jew to live and cultivate vines on land inherited from his forefathers?” he said in a statement.

July 13, 2017 | 8 Comments » | 669 views

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  1. The left wing Trudeau government is already succumbing to an ever increasing Muslim immigration.

  2. Due to strenuous lobbying by CIJA, the government just reversed itself on this matter and has said the wine can be sold without the need for relabeling. Well done CIJA.

  3. Boycott Canadian Maple Syrup !!!! Quebec should be independent and French, speaking shouldn’t it!?!? Quebec is OCCUPIED TERRITORY!!! Boycoyy maple syrup. I’m not kidding. Two can play at this game.

  4. Indeed!

    @ deanblake:

    Protesters rally for Indigenous rights as country gears up for Canada 150
    OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
    Published Friday, Jun. 30, 2017

    “…In recent weeks, the government has held festivities to honour aboriginals, francophones and the country’s multicultural heritage. As called for by tradition, the celebrations will peak on July 1, when Mr. Trudeau, Prince Charles and Governor-General David Johnston will gather on Parliament Hill for a televised event.

    Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly insisted the native protest on Parliament Hill was a welcomed addition to the event.

    “…In a video filmed inside the tepee and posted on Facebook, Mr. Trudeau told protesters their impromptu discussion symbolized the inherent difficulties of creating “nation-to-nation” discussions and getting out of “colonial structures.”Since I took over the project, we have been doing everything we could to offer aboriginal perspectives and to be able to have discussions on some of the darker chapters, the very dark chapters, of the last 150 years, at the same time as we are looking forward and celebrating with optimism,” Ms. Joly said in an interview…”

    Justin Trudeau facing pressure about Quebec independence after Brexit
    He told reporters it is ‘troublesome’ to make parallels between different countries

    28 June 2016 19:51

  5. Yes:

    “Canadian Food Inspection Agency backtracks after saying wine from the West Bank isn’t from Israel
    After a backlash from the Israeli government and Jewish groups, the agency said a junior employee ‘made a mistake’

    A bottle of Viognier wine at Ortal winery on September 3 2013 in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has ruled — and may be about to reverse — the wine is among those that can’t be labelled as of Israeli origin. Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
    Marie-Danielle Smith
    Marie-Danielle Smith
    July 13, 2017
    5:32 PM EDT
    Filed under
    Canadian Politics
    OTTAWA — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is backtracking after a decision that wines produced in the West Bank and other occupied areas should not be labelled as products of Israel.

    The CFIA acknowledged its mistake after the Israeli government said in a statement to the National Post Thursday it opposed Canada’s “politicization” of a labelling issue.

    “We did not fully consider the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA),” the statement reads. “These wines adhere to the Agreement and therefore we can confirm that the products in question can be sold as currently labelled.”

    According to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), the CFIA had notified wine-sellers last week it is unacceptable to declare Israel as the country of origin for wine products that aren’t produced within Israel’s formal borders.

    Israeli officials in Canada appeared unhappy. “Israel supports free trade and objects to its politicization. We are currently in touch with the Canadian authorities and are discussing this matter,” said Itay Tavor, the head of public diplomacy at Israel’s embassy in Ottawa.

    But a Canadian government official said Thursday they were told a younger employee at the agency “made a mistake.”

    A man shows a bottle of his wine thatâ??s sold mainly for export, at the Shilo winery in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the West Bank. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
    That’s what a “high-ranking official” told Jewish organization B’nai Brith Canada, as that group’s spokesman Marty York put it. York said a “low-level person” at the CFIA had made a decision without seeking authority from the federal government. “We understand that this is going to be rescinded shortly and we also expect that this person who made this decision will be disciplined,” he said.

    Michael Mostyn, president of the organization, told the National Post the CFIA decision went against existing Canadian policy. “There’s many areas in dispute in the world and many areas in dispute in the world produce liquor products and wines. And nobody would like to see discrimination against Israel in a way that other regions in a similar position are treated differently. That would be the case if there’s no reversal of this particular decision,” he said.

    He added the Jewish community across Canada has been “very upset” about the issue. “B’nai Brith and I’m sure many other Jewish groups have been receiving many complaints. … They feel that it’s very discriminatory against Israeli products.”

    New rules had prompted a letter from LCBO to “all sacramental wine vendors” telling them to stop importing and selling wine with labels running afoul of the CFIA decision.

    No wines have been pulled off the shelves

    A letter to “all sacramental wine vendors” dated July 11 says the LCBO was notified of the decision, affecting products from two wineries, Psagot and Shiloh, on July 6. The letter states products are made from grapes “grown, fermented, processed, blended and finished in the West Bank occupied territory.”

    It goes on to note Canada does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the West Bank and other territories occupied in 1967 — including the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — and that any wine products from these regions labelled as products of Israel “would not be acceptable and would be considered misleading.”

    It’s beyond mead: Wine in Israel has improved dramatically since Biblical times
    Israel aims to recreate wines drunk by King David and Jesus, and the latest attempt is ‘pleasant and easy-to-drink’
    The food inspection agency agency said it would follow up with the LCBO to correct the mistake.”

    It’s beyond mead: Wine in Israel has improved dramatically since Biblical times
    Forget milk and honey — and sickly sweet kosher plonk of yore. Israel is today a wine player, producing award-winning kosher varietals that are no longer consigned to religious rites and ritual meals

    Israel aims to recreate wines drunk by King David and Jesus, and the latest attempt is ‘pleasant and easy-to-drink’
    The Palestinian farms that sold the grapes to Recanati have insisted on anonymity, for fear of backlash over working with Israelis, or making wine, which is generally forbidden in Islam

    Frankly, I’m skeptical. Unless it has as much sugar as Manischewitz or Bailey’s, how can wine — or any alcohol beverage — be described at “tasty?” Yuck.

    Though I can sort of manage a light beer without bolting it with a diet coke chaser, now.

  6. @ deanblake:
    Anti-capitalists do so love to organize boycotts, especially when they can get the government to go along.

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