These two kosher wines are both sold by the Ontario liquor stores (LCBO). But buying or drinking the Ricanati Chardonnay on the left would be unacceptable to those who support the worldwide movement to boycott Israel, called the BDS movement. The Tzafona Riesling on the right, would be perfectly acceptable, however. What’s the difference? Read more.
The movement to boycott the State of Israel (known as BDS) is 12 years old this week. Over that time, it has grown substantially from a tiny fringe movement to one which Israel is very concerned about.
However, misconceptions about the movement still abound. One of the arguments commonly used against BDS is that it is anti-Semitic because it allegedly discriminates against Jews, and Jewish owned businesses.
But these two bottles, both kosher wines produced under rabbinical approval, both prepared by firms owned by Jews, demonstrate the falsity of that argument. Based on their own descriptions on their websites, both wines are as Jewish as a wine can be. But only one of them is subject to the BDS boycott. Why is that?
Is BDS a boycott against Israel, or a boycott against Jews?
According to its website “The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”. It is focussed on the State of Israel. It is not directed against Jews or Jewish businesses in Canada. Jewish wines or Kosher wines produced in Canada are therefore not targeted by the BDS movement.
What are the BDS movement’s 3 demands?
An end to the illegal occupation and blockade of Gaza
Equality for the Palestinian citizens who live inside Israel
Justice for the Palestinian refugees and their children who were expelled when Israel was created in 1948.
The wine above on the left is produced in Israel. It is an Israeli Chardonnay from Recanati winery which established itself in the Galilee in Northern Israel in 2000. Because it is an Israeli product, it is subject to the BDS boycott. According to one article on the Recanati website: “This is the wine that Jesus and King David drank“.
The wine on the right is produced in Canada by Tzafona Cellars. It is just as Jewish, but is Canadian and not subject to the BDS boycott.
According to its website, Tzafona Cellars uses techniques and procedures that have made it one of Ontario’s top wineries. The Niagara Peninsula where Tzafona wine is produced is world renowned, with exceptional conditions and quality of grapes.
“Rabbi Avraham and I were drinking good kosher wine produced in other places and wanted to support our local community,” said Toby Berkel, co-founder of Tzafona Cellars. “We went on to research Ontario kosher wines and saw that there was a serious lack in the market. We decided to fill that void, with our own kosher wine produced in Niagara.”
All of Tzafona Cellars wines are produced under the supervision of the Kosher Certification Agency (COR).
BDS supporters in Ontario can look forward to trying some Tzafona Cellar wine sometime this summer. They might not want to drink any Recanati wines in the near future however.
In a related development, it appears that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has just sent a directive to LCBO insisting that wines produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territories not be labelled as Israeli wines. The move has been denounced by B’nai Brith Canada which is frantically trying to have it reversed. However, that will be hard to do. The CFIA decision follows a binding resolution of the UN Security Council which calls on all nations (including Canada) to “differentiate” between products from Israel and those from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
AND EVEN MORE BREAKING NEWS!! It now (July 13th) appears that CFIA has reversed its decision, and will accept wines made in the Occupied Territories as “Israeli” wines, in direct contravention of that UN Security Council resolution.
However, none of this affects BDS. From the point of view of the BDS call however, all Israeli wines should be boycotted whether they are produced in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue. If you support our educational mission, why not join? Or make a donation? Or learn more about what we do? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.