After a half decade long legal battle, David Kattenburg has won his case that wines produced by Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian Territory cannot be labelled as “product of Israel”. While the amount of wine at stake was rather small, he faced huge opposition from the Israeli government, the Israel lobby in Canada and the Canadian government itself. In a short video interview, Kattenburg explains what was behind the stiff opposition. Watch the interview and read more.…
On May 13th, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ruled that “Product of Israel” labels affixed to wines produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements violate Canadian consumer protection law.
“the voluntary claim “Product of Israel,” without clarifying information, is considered “false” under the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act, the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.“, according to the ruling.
The CFIA’s decision is the latest chapter in a half-decade legal battle that began in January 2017. At that time, Dr. David Kattenburg filed a complaint against two wines made in the illegal Israeli West Bank settlements of Psagot and Shiloh. Dr. Kattenburg argued that, because those settlements are situated on Occupied Palestinian Territory in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the wines produced in those settlements were falsely labelled as “Product of Israel.”
CFIA first agreed with Dr. Kattenburg, but that decision was subsequently overruled by the Government of Canada. A long court battle ensued in which Kattenburg faced the combined opposition of the Government of Canada, the Israel lobby and the Israeli vintners association. However convincing arguments by Dimitri Lascaris a leading Canadian lawyer, finally led to the decision on May 13th of this year.
CTIP spoke to Kattenburg about the political significance of his victory.
A hard fought but significant victory
The case put the Canadian government in a difficult position. On the one hand, Canada claims to believe in a “two state” solution, meaning that the Occupied Territories are not part of Israel. The Israeli government, on the other hand does treat the West Bank as part of Israel, (they call it “Judea and Samaria”) and wants the rest of the world to see it that way. Convincing the Canadian government (and the Canadian public) that wines produced in the occupied territories are “products of Israel” would be a significant propaganda victory.
The CFIA decision has put a stop to that – at least for the time being.
Still a long way short of a “boycott”
Demanding correct labelling of settlement wines is a long way short of a “boycott” of settlement products, let alone a boycott of ALL Israeli products as proposed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. But, as Kattenburg notes in the interview “The latest CFIA ruling opens the door to Canadian consumers making choices based on their “conscience”. This would presumably include any individual decision to boycott products from anywhere… including Israel.
To be followed….
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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