B’nai Brith to Canadian A-G: West Bank wine labeling decision aids BDS

B’nai Brith Canada’s senior counsel David Matas said he believed the Federal Court’s decision “contains significant legal errors."

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August 5, 2019 23:01
1 minute read.
B’nai Brith to Canadian A-G: West Bank wine labeling decision aids BDS

Rosé wine. (photo credit: TNS)

 Canada’s Attorney-General David Lametti should appeal the Federal Court’s decision to ban the labeling of settler wines as “products of Israel” on the grounds that it is discriminatory and assists the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, B’nai Brith told the country’s Justice Department.


Last week, Canada’s Federal Court ruled that labeling settler wines “products of Israel” was inaccurate and misleading since all parties agree that the settlements are not part of sovereign Israel.
The attorney-general has 30 days to appeal, according to B’nai Brith Canada.


In a letter to the attorney-general, B’nai Brith Canada’s senior counsel David Matas said he believed the Federal Court’s decision “contains significant legal errors. These errors could impact on the Government of Canada beyond the confines of this case.”


Stating the wines were a “product of Israel” was not akin to made in Israel, Matas said.


The wines in question were produced by Israelis in territory under sole Israeli control, based on the 1995 Oslo II international agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he explained.


“It is not inaccurate or misleading to describe a product made by Israelis in territory, with agreement of the Palestinian Authority, under the sole control of Israel, to be labeled as a product of Israel,” Matas argued.


The ruling also validates Canadian statutes that “forbid discrimination in business” – including contracts and the sale of goods – based on a number of attributes, including “geographical location of the person, such as the location of an Israeli vintner in [the settlements of] Shiloh or Psagot,” Matas wrote. The Canadian Human Rights Act also forbids discrimination “based on race, national or ethnic origin,” he added.


“It is not even reasonably arguable that the Charter could be interpreted or applied in such a way as to facilitate consumer boycotts based on those characteristics,” Matas wrote. “Discriminating against a subset of Jews is as much discrimination as discrimination against all Jews.”


Such a ruling, he added, would have consequences on other instances of territorial dispute. 


“Canadians may wish to boycott products originating in Tibet produced by Han Chinese residing there,” he said. “Should the CAO on reconsideration find in favor of the applicant, such products labeled as ‘product of China’ could reasonably be considered misleading to prospective boycotters and would need to be re-labeled.”


“For all of these reasons, we urge the attorney-general to appeal this decision,” Matas wrote.


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