West Bank settler wines ‘not made in Israel’ Canadian federal court rules

“It is our fervent hope that the government of Justin Trudeau will accept the Court’s well-reasoned decision and will not waste yet more taxpayer dollars by appealing this decision."

By
July 30, 2019 11:07
2 minute read.
Wine (Illustrative)

Wine (Illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Wines produced by West Bank settlers cannot be labeled “Products of Israel,” Canada’s Federal Court ruled on Monday.

“All of the parties and interveners agree that the settlements... in this case are not part of the State of Israel. Consequently, labeling the settlement wines as ‘Products of Israel’ is both inaccurate and misleading,” the court said in its judgment. “Canadian federal legislation requires that food products [including wines] that are sold in Canada bear truthful, non-deceptive and non-misleading country of origin labels,” it said.

The court explained that labeling the wines produced in Judea and Samaria as “Products of Israel” contravenes both subsection 7(1) of the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act and subsection 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act [129], and was therefore not defensible under Canadian law. It added that the initial decision by the Complaints and Appeals Office of Canada’s Food Inspection Agency, which allowed those wines to be labeled “Products of Israel,” was unreasonable.

Canadian attorney Dimitri Lascaris, who had argued against marketing settler wines as products of Israel, urged the government not to appeal the court’s decision. “It is our fervent hope that the government of Justin Trudeau will accept the court’s well-reasoned decision and will not waste yet more taxpayer dollars by appealing this decision and by continuing to facilitate Israel’s naked theft of occupied Palestinian land,” he said.

Lascaris argued the case on behalf of his client, David Kattenburg, who he described as “a member of Winnipeg’s Jewish community and a child of Holocaust survivors.” Kattenburg had also asked that the settler wines be labeled products of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” but the federal court rejected that part of his request.

Canada’s B’nai Brith, which is a party to the case, said it was “disappointed” by the ruling. “In our view, it is reasonable and not at all misleading to label wines produced by Israeli citizens in Israeli-controlled territory as ‘Products of Israel.’” It added that “We will be asking the attorney-general to appeal this decision, since we cannot do so as interveners.

“The Court’s decision does not give any instruction as to how these wines should be labeled, and B’nai Brith will be making submission to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in that regard,” the organization said.

“We note that the decision explicitly did not find that there is anything illegal about Israeli settlements east of the Green Line or wines produced there, despite the Applicant attempting to argue this point. B’nai Brith intervened in the case to argue that there is nothing illegal about these Israeli communities in the Jewish homeland, so we see that part of the decision as a silver lining,” it said.

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, said that the federal court had erred in its response. “The ruling is wrong as a matter of international law and hopefully the Canadian government will challenge it. The Canadian free trade agreement clearly makes products from Judea and Samaria part of Israeli customs territory. And Canada labels wines from occupied Nagorno-Karabakh ‘made in Armenia’ – so this looks like another special rule just for the Jewish state,” he said.

“The sole basis of the ruling was that ‘made in Israel’ labeling confuses consumers. But the court [provided] absolutely no evidence that any substantial number of consumers, who might care one way or another about a product’s origin in Judea & Samaria, are unaware of that fact,” Kontorovich said.


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