Activists wearing signs posted on their backs, which read “Inspection obligation from products from the illegal Israeli settlements.".
(photo credit: JAN-PHILIPP HEIN)
A group of anti-Israel activists in the northern German city of Bremen on Saturday visited stores to ensure they marked their products as originating from Israeli settlements.
The Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) group stated in a press release: “With an ‘inspection tour’ on November 28 we want to examine which businesses are selling ‘products from Israel’ and to call upon them to comply with the EU labeling obligation.”
German journalist Jan-Philipp Hein reported on the BDS group in stores on his twitter feed, posting photographs of the activists wearing signs on their backs, reading, “Inspection: Labeling obligation for products from the illegal Israeli settlements.”
A separate BDS protest on Saturday occurred in Berlin in front of the GALERIA Kaufhof department store on Alexander square.
A photo can be seen of the activists holding a large BDS poster. GALERIA Kaufhof rejects product labels.
A spokesperson said the chain’s policy is not to be influenced by religion or politics when purchasing products. GALERIA Kaufhof sells products made in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
The EU issued guidelines in November stating that Israeli settlement products should not be labeled as made in Israel. EU member states and businesses have the latitude to decide whether they wish to identify products from the disputed territories.
The protests in Berlin and Bremen come on the heels of the high-end Berlin department store KaDeWe’s removal last week of eight Israeli wines produced in the Golan Heights.
Following a great deal of criticism on social media and a protest from the Green Party’s Volker Beck, president of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Bundestag, a spokesman for the department store sent him a letter of apology. “The eight Israeli wines will be immediately returned,” the letter read.
“On this issue, dealt with following recommendations of the European Commission, we acted too fast and without sensitivity. We are sorry that the mistaken action of the KaDeWe Group lead to misunderstandings, and we want to apologize for that.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had slammed the department store, telling the cabinet that the German government should take action against the move.
Pointing out that this department store was originally owned by Jews and confiscated by the Nazis, Netanyahu said that what began with the labeling of products has evolved into a full-blown boycott of those products.
“We strongly protest this step, which is morally, substantively and historically unacceptable” Netanyahu said. “We expect the German government, which came out against product labeling, to act on this grave matter.”Herb Keinon contributed to this report.