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Canadian government to appeal landmark decision on labels for West Bank settlement products

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Last Friday, just before winding down for the weekend, Canada’s attorney general announced he was appealing a recent federal court ruling that banned labeling wines made in West Banks settlements as products of Israel. 

The announcement was not unexpected, especially as Canada is gearing up for the federal elections on October 21. However, it put the Canadian government squarely in the limelight as openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as the Jerusalem Post announced: “David Lametti, Canada’s attorney-general, has taken a stand in favor of labeling West Bank wines ‘Products of Israel’.” Not that multiple Canadian governments haven’t repeatedly flaunted international law (and even official Canadian policy) when it comes to Palestinian rights, but Liberal governments in particular usually prefer to do it in a less flashy and more duplicitous manner.

All of the major Zionist lobby groups in Canada, as well as the Israeli foreign ministry, had weighed in on the necessity of appealing the ruling that had determined that putting the “Product of Israel” label on illegal settlement wines was “false, misleading and deceptive”. The foreign ministry claimed the court ruling emboldened the BDS movement and added: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli embassy in Canada will continue to act against discriminatory treatment and the singling out of Israel in the matter of product labeling in Canada.” 

But the Canadian federal election looms on the horizon, and if the chances were slim that the government would not appeal under normal circumstances, they were now reduced further. Both the Liberal and Conservative Parties in Canada are eager to prove who is more capable of implementing the pro-Israel agenda; John Baird, Canada’s former foreign minister under Stephen Harper, already threw down the gauntlet at a campaign fund-raising dinner on August 29 in Montreal saying: “Israel needs friends on the tough days who stand behind her when she needs help.” 

Independent Jewish Voices Canada had intervenor status in the original court case, and their national coordinator Corey Balsam noted in a press release on September 9, 2019: “Sadly, the appeal looks to be solely for political reasons–to appeal to certain voters and lobbyists–rather than to pose any legitimate challenges to the judge’s interpretation of Canadian law.”

Meanwhile, in a supreme act of petty revenge or sour grapes, the Canadian government last month held up a previously approved shipment of Taybeh wines and beer from Palestine, citing the court ruling and claiming further direction from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was needed. However, in contrast to this, the wines from illegal Israeli settlements with the “Product of Israel” label were and are still on the shelves for sale. Those, it seemed, didn’t need to be “put on hold” requiring possible “corrective work.” As Karen Rodman with Palestine Just Trade, the Taybeh importers, stated: “LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) imported Taybeh beer and Nadim wine by Taybeh, approving it as “Product of Palestine.” To base their decision on a conflation with wines produced in settlements occupied illegally under international law is illogical.”

So, what’s the takeaway message from this whole affair to date? One is that we should have no illusions about the intentions of the Canadian government and the Liberal party regarding their support for Israel. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s words have been very clear over the years (although he does try to muddy the waters with his alleged commitment to multiculturalism). He hasn’t been shy to tell us repeatedly, “We have more than an ally in Israel, we have a trusted and longstanding friend,” or that the BDS call is anti-Semitic and that “Canadian values” dictate that it must be opposed, or “…we will continue to condemn BDS and any movement that attacks our Israeli friends, Jewish Canadians, and the values we share.”

The pro-Israel advocates were right on one thing – the way this labeling fiasco has played out will probably help the BDS movement, but not for the reasons they cited. Given this insistence on blurring any distinctions between settlement wines and products of Israel, consumers of conscience have been shown the only reasonable option is to boycott all Israeli wines (and products). 

And lastly, as activists for Palestinian rights, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by the fervour and illusory quick fix of electoral party politics. The more difficult grassroots work of developing principled campaigns and community allies is the only way to achieve any real change, and developments in Canada in the last six months have shown it can bring genuine results. 

Marion Kawas

Marion Kawas is a long-time pro-Palestinian activist, a member of BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish and cohost of Voice of Palestine.

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22 Responses

  1. eljay on September 11, 2019, 9:54 am

    Canadian politicians and bureaucrats are determined to show that they are just as good as their American counterparts at fellating the Zionist donkey.

  2. HarryLaw on September 11, 2019, 6:40 pm

    The West Bank is Occupied Palestinian Territory, the UK and Canadian Governments regard the settlements therein as illegal, including those settlements growing, harvesting and turning those grapes into wine. The 1949 Fourth Geneva conventions Article 49 paragraph 6, and the International Criminal Court Act 2001 Article 8[2][b][iii] regard the settlement enterprise as grave war crimes, the UK government in a paper published several years ago advised traders and consumers of the financial and reputational risks inherent in such trade. How are consumers to learn of these crucial facts, when the labels falsely claim Israel as the country of origin?

  3. mondonut on September 11, 2019, 8:39 pm

    Which part of the Fourth Geneva Convention dictates how Canada labels its imports?

    • oldgeezer on September 11, 2019, 9:56 pm

      It doesn’t but thanks for playing.

      • mondonut on September 11, 2019, 10:45 pm

        @oldgeezer , It doesn’t but thanks for playing.

        Exactly.

        However, it put the Canadian government squarely in the limelight as openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention…

      • oldgeezer on September 12, 2019, 11:21 am

        @mondonut

        Yes that’s correct. It’s a fall out from the trade agreement and labelling issue. Maybe the issue is too complex for you.

    • lonely rico on September 12, 2019, 2:53 am

      Which part of the Fourth Geneva Convention dictates how Canada labels its imports?

      What is being questioned “mon donut” is how the illegal Israeli settlers label the wines they produce on stolen Palestinian land.
      Canadians who purchase these wines should be warned – “Product of vineyards on stolen Palestinian land”.
      Regrettably this won’t happen because Justin Trudeau loves Israel more than he loves justice and more than he feels the need to deal honestly with Canadians.

      • mondonut on September 12, 2019, 10:46 am

        @lonely rico What is being questioned…

        No, what is being claimed is that Canada is openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. Which is, of course, ridiculous.

      • echinococcus on September 12, 2019, 2:10 pm

        And yes, as long as any country agrees to mislabel anything imported from occupier businesses in occupied land, they violate the Geneva treaties, in this case Part IV, and it annex protocols about sanctioning treaty violations. In fact, strictly speaking they are in violation of the protocols if they allow importing.

        The Nut seems to be even dimmer than he seems.

      • mondonut on September 12, 2019, 2:47 pm

        @echinococcus ,they violate the Geneva treaties, in this case Part IV,

        Now we are getting somewhere. Your claim is that Canada’s policy on labeling wine violates the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Specifically, on which Paragraph and Article are you basing your claim?

      • echinococcus on September 13, 2019, 12:19 am

        The Nut can’t read. Didn’t even read the Protocols (no, not those, silly! Those that go with the 4G.) I bet he’s a lawyer, too. All these arrogant “quote me chapter and verse” types generally are.

        “Your claim is…” no, it ain’t. He really should learn to read.

        Can’t even understand that it’s enough that we are satisfied — not interested in the approval of some Zionists…

    • Misterioso on September 12, 2019, 10:50 am

      @mondonut

      “Which part of the Fourth Geneva Convention dictates how Canada labels its imports?”

      Inane question!!

      • mondonut on September 12, 2019, 2:21 pm

        @Misterioso Inane question!!

        Sorry if this all went over your head, I will try harder to make this all super easy for you and your gang to understand.

        The author’s claim is that the Canadian government (not Israel) is openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by it’s policy on import labeling.

        However, it put the Canadian government squarely in the limelight as openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention…

        Given that this ridiculous claim is clearly stated and easy enough to understand (so I thought), questioning the basis of the claim seems to be a natural response.

      • eljay on September 12, 2019, 3:10 pm

        || mondonut: .. The author’s claim is that the Canadian government (not Israel) is openly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by it’s policy on import labeling. … ||

        I agree that the author should simply have said: The Canadian government is openly aiding and abetting Israeli colonialism and (war) criminality.

    • echinococcus on September 12, 2019, 10:59 am

      The parts that prohibit:
      – establishing presence / residence of the occupying party’s civilians or commercial operations in the occupied area,
      – pillage of occupied area / occupied population resources

      The Nut is also another one of these paradoxical Zios. He can write but cannot read.

      • mondonut on September 12, 2019, 2:07 pm

        @echinococcus The Nut is also another one of these paradoxical Zios

        And which of those supposed violations is Canada guilty of?
        Which of those direct how 3rd party countries label their imports?

    • Hanna Kawas on September 13, 2019, 8:27 pm

      Al Haq has stated the following:
      International Law: Under Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, all High Contracting Parties (which includes Canada), are required to take action to ensure respect for the Convention “in all circumstances.” http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/6129.html

      U.N. Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk has repeatedly emphasized Article 1 obligations and even stated that Canada’s updated Free Trade Agreement with Israel itself violates Article 1 of the Convention. An article he coauthored with Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, stated: “Among the most important prohibitions in the Fourth Geneva Convention is the absolute rule, in Article 49(6), against the transfer by the occupying power of any of its civilian population into the occupied territory” and “The 1957 Geneva Conventions Act commits Canada to respect the strict obligations of the convention, including the prohibition against civilian settlements in occupied territory.” Lynk notes that the free trade pact “makes no distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory, and it provides encouragement to the economic growth of the settlements by allowing their goods and services to enter Canada tariff-free.”

      • oldgeezer on September 14, 2019, 12:17 am

        And Al Haq is correct.

        Additionally there is an ICJ ruling as to the liability and culpability of those who do not distinguish their relations between Israel and the territory it illegally occupies.

        Like true criminals zionists are pushing governments to violate the law which is against their citizens interests.

        Zionism is not only racism but criminal. It needs to be dealt with and stamped out like all other forms of supremacism.

  4. lonely rico on September 12, 2019, 3:18 am

    Off topic: Wednesday evening at Noura Erakat’s presentation in Montreal.
    She is marvelous, very smart and passionate, (and beautiful).
    She will be speaking Thursday (Sept 12) in Ottawa and
    Friday (the 13th) in Toronto.
    If you have the chance, go see and hear her, a remarkable woman.

  5. Ronald Johnson on September 12, 2019, 11:06 am

    Well, I told you so, in predicting that the Canadian gov’t. would surely appeal. Recall that the case was opened by a private individual, David Kattenburg, through his lawyer, Dimitri Lascaris.

    https://www.npr.org/2019/07/30/746507056/canadian-court-rules-west-bank-wines-are-not-a-product-of-israel

    Kattenburg is in for litigation that may outlive him, at a ruinous cost. In the US there is a law against what is called, “strategic lawsuit against public participation”, aka SLAPP.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation

    Here we have the Canadian government employing the SLAPP gambit, entrapping a person or organization of limited means in costly litigation to destroy them. It happens similarly in the United States, where is IS against the law, employing the same corrupt technique, where the law is perverted by entities, both public and private, to inflict injustice.

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