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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘labeling’

Israel Weighs Suing EU Over Settlement Product Labeling

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

(JNi.media) The Israeli government is considering filing a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization against the European Union, in response to the latter’s decision to mark Israeli products originating in the settlements at retail chains in Europe. A senior Israeli official told Ha’aretz that the push for a suit comes from Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked. The move is opposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Economy.

Shaked and Erdan met recently to coordinate the promotion of their move in the cabinet. According to Ha’aretz, the two agreed on hiring a major international legal firm specializing in international trade to make a recommendation regarding the feasibility of a WTO suit and the chances of success.

According to Ha’aretz, senior officials in the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of the Economy say that chances for the success of such a move against the EU are very low and may cause more harm than good. They argue the move could cause a counter-mobilization of Arab countries against Israel at the WTO, and to end up with a decision making the products from the settlements illegal according to international law, which would mean they must be seized, not only labeled. A Foreign Ministry official said the move was one of those things that you “know how to get into, but not how to get out.”

International law professors Avi Bell of Bar Ilan University and Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University have written a position paper urging the filing of a lawsuit against the EU, and met with Shaked and Arden. Both have argued that one of the main principles of the WTO is no discrimination between member countries. Bell and Kontorovich say the EU decided to select products from the settlements for labeling, but isn’t labeling products from other conflict areas in the world where there is an occupation or a territorial dispute, such as the Moroccan Sahara products or products from the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that cosmetics company Ahava has manages to get around the labeling for the time being, arguing that although its main factory is located at Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem in Judea, most of the raw materials come from the parts of the Dead Sea that are within 1949 Israel; also, it argues that not all its products are manufactured in that main factory.

International Law Expert Kontorovich: EU Breaking EU Laws Against Product Labeling

Friday, November 13th, 2015

(JNi.media) Eugene Kontorovich, a legal scholar whose specialties include international law, on Friday published an op-ed in the NY Times that could stir up a backlash over in Brussels. Titled, “Europe Mislabels Israel,” Kontorovich’s piece rebukes the EU Commission for breaking EU laws in its zeal to attack the Jewish State.

“Diplomats in Brussels and NGOs have made clear that more coercive measures will follow,” Kontorovich writes, suggesting the EU has initiated a “process of building a legal ghetto around Israel, within which a special set of rules applies.”

“The European Union allows Morocco — which has extensive trade ties with Europe, but has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and populated it heavily with settlers — to export products from its occupied territory labeled ‘Made in Morocco,’” Kontorovich notes, pointing out that, “when challenged, the commission formally declared that labeling such goods as ‘made in’ Morocco is not misleading, and is consistent with European trade agreements.”

But wait, there’s so much more: European courts have already examined and rejected the EU Commission’s notion about extending “consumer protection” to shoppers deciding whether or not to buy Israeli products. “Just last year, the British Supreme Court ruled, in a case involving Ahava beauty products produced in the West Bank, that ‘there was no basis for saying that the average consumer would be misled’ by a ‘Made in Israel’ label.” Just as the EU decided in the case of Moroccon product from occupied Western Sahara, so did the UK court hold that the labeling “was not deceptive as a matter of both British and European Union law,” Kontorovich states.

“The problem is not that the European Union fails to live up to its standards in some cases, like that of Morocco,” he argues, “Rather, in these other cases the union explicitly denies the existence of these standards.”

This, in Kontorovich’s opinion, “is a legal violation in its own right. The European Union’s foundational treaties require regulatory ‘consistency.’ And discrimination against trading partners represents a core violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and other treaties of the World Trade Organization.”

How should the US respond to this obvious violation of the EU’s own trade laws, never mind the international trade agreements to which the EU is a signatory?

On Wednesday, Mark C. Toner, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson told reporters: “We understand the objective is to provide EU consumers correct information on the origin of products, as required by EU law. … The EU has made clear that measures are not a boycott, and the EU has also made very clear that they oppose boycotts against Israel. EU guidelines for products that are sold in EU countries are for the EU to determine.”

Not true, writes Kontorovich, who believes “the European Union labeling threatens to establish a precedent that would allow politicization of the system, undermining United States economic interests in broad and unpredictable ways. Thus it is not surprising that earlier this year, the United States passed a law opposing such European Union measures against Israel.”

Indeed, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) in late June introduced Amendment 20 into President Obama’s Fast Track bill, which reads:

A) IN GENERAL.—With respect to an agreement that is proposed to be entered into with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership countries and to which section 103(b) will apply, the principal negotiating objectives of the United States regarding commercial partnerships are the following:
(i) To discourage actions by potential trading partners that directly or indirectly prejudice or otherwise discourage commercial activity solely between the United States and Israel.

(ii) To discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.

(iii) To seek the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts against Israel or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prospective trading partners.

(B) DEFINITION.—In this paragraph, the term “actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” means actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.

In reading both Kontorovich’s well founded opinion, and the Cardin amendment, it appears that the EU Commission’s ruling is actionable, both in the US and in Europe.

Israel’s Pres. Rivlin Cancels State Visit to EU

Friday, November 13th, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin has canceled his long-scheduled visit to speak at a session of the European Union parliament, set for December 2, after anti-Israel labeling guidelines were published Wednesday by the EU.

The invitation, extended as far back as March of this year, included a meeting with EU officials at the body’s headquarters in Brussels.

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen was informed Thursday after being summoned to the foreign ministry that the trip was to be postponed. The ambassador was also told that Israel was suspending diplomatic dialogue with the EU in a number of European forums.

The President’s Residence has confirmed the trip was postponed but did not give a reason for the change.

It is believed the cancelation is part of Israel’s partial suspension of diplomatic dialogue with the European Union in the wake of its new labeling guidelines on goods produced by Jewish manufacturers in Judea and Samaria.

The new guidelines issued Wednesday ban farm goods and cosmetics produced in Judea and Samaria from bearing the label, “Made in Israel.” The European Union considers the existence of Jewish Israeli communities built in those regions following the 1967 Six Day War to be illegal under international law.

Israel vowed it would suspend bilateral dialogue with the European Union over the matter, primarily in the areas of human rights and issues affecting its relationship with the Palestinian Authority. Bilateral dialogue in areas such as education, agriculture, science and culture are expected to continue, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon.

Some Settlement Businesses See Potential Lemonade in EU Commission’s Lemons

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

(JNi.media) Tura, a family owned, boutique winery located in the village of Rehelim, in Samaria, produces 56 thousand bottles a year, 40% of which are shipped for export. According to winery owner Vered Ben Sa’adoun, the boycott movement against Jewish products from Judea and Samaria has achieved the opposite effect of the one intended: “For five months we were stuck without wine on the shelves thanks to [customers] who didn’t like the violence of the boycott movement,” she told Israel’s Channel 2 News Wednesday.

The EU Commission’s new regulations requiring member states to label products from the settlement stops short of actually making them illegal, and it has been argued that the regulations are not mandatory, meaning that individual states can decide to ignore them. But in all the discussion about the labeling requirement, it has been taken for granted that European consumers would shun products they know were made by Jews on the “wrong” side of the 1949 armistice line. Few have suggested that the European consumer’s sense of fair play, their admiration for the underdog and, yes, their general distaste for things pro-Islamic, might spell a boon for settlement-produced exports.

“The EU wants to boycott us, but I want to tell them that this boycott will not lead us [to any concessions],” said David Daniel, who owns beehives in the Jewish enclave in Hebron. “This attempt to harm us will not succeed. Our clients are very satisfied and happy with our products, and we are happy to market them to the world.”

PR firm Marketing Team Houston, actually recommends negative marketing to some of its clients, as a strategy to gain market share. “Be controversial,” they advise. “Nothing gets people buzzing like a little controversy. However, you’ll need to be prepared to manage the conversation – and the emotions that are sure to arise. … Choose a topic related to your brand that people are passionate about. When handled correctly, this negative marketing tactic can generate buzz and traffic.”

On February 7, 1962, President John F. Kennedy imposed a trade embargo on Cuba to sanction Fidel Castro’s communist government. As a result, until the ban has been lifted recently, in the US, authentic Cuban-made cigars were seen as “forbidden fruit” for Americans to wish to purchase at any cost. The boycott didn’t turn off anyone, it only made the product more desirable. Of course, it had to be a great product to start with—which is also the case with many settlement-grown and produced goods.

“We believe that we must fight back and call on all of Israel’s supporters around the world, Jews and non-Jews, to buy Israeli products,” said Jacob Berg, of the Psagot winery in Benjamin region. “The best way to fight this European boycott is let the numbers prove it, that a year from now we will sell 2 to 3 times more. If we cry and say it’s unfair, it’s racist, that won’t defeat them, because their goal is hurt the nation of Israel.”

Here are a few ideas we delineated from marketing websites and blogs that preach negative campaigns, most notably, hubspot.com:

1. Exclusionary Personas, the Other. The EU is siding with the Islamists you and I fear so much — show them the right way by purchasing settlements goods.

2. Leverage and Exclusivity. We may not be carried in all the stores, you may have to walk the extra mile and spend the extra five minutes to find our products — but it’s worth it, because they’re delicious. Remember the Cuban cigars? Make the settlement goods a Cuban cigar.

3. Come up with Negative Headlines. There’s a reason why you’re seeing more bad news than good — it’s the undeniable correlation between page views and negativity.

“The people who made this gadget are fearless Jews who guard all night and work all day. ”

“The man who baked this cake just shot a terrorist last night.”

“Taste our bananas and you, too, will want to settle here.”

4. Create a Bond Over a Shared Negative Experience. You think you got Muslims? You should see our Muslims. Here, have an apple cider.

5. Cast Villains. There’s no shortage of that — Arabs, faceless EU bureaucrats, far-left politicians. The Marxists in Brussels don’t want you to taste our grapes — they just ordered a container of them for themselves.

6. Self deprecation. If you don’t buy this Camembert, we’ll burn down this poor Palestinian’s olive grove. It acknowledges the anti-settlements myths and cuts across them with a joke.
Yesha Council, the umbrella body for the half-million plus Jews in Judea and Samaria, might consider this direction. They could call it chutzpah marketing.

Labor MK: Netanyahu Sold Out Settlements to the EU Long Before Product labeling

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

(JNi.media) MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Camp, a.k.a. Labor) addressed the issue of product labeling, saying “the right-wing government has long ago sold out the settlements in exchange for a long list of economic benefits from the EU.”

Writing in a Wednesday night Facebook post, Shaffir, not a friend of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, wrote: “In the coming days, you’ll be hearing Netanyahu government ministers and the Prime Minister himself crying in front of every open microphone: ‘Settlement products labeling?! Differentiating between products on the basis of their place of manufacturing?! How can those anti-Semitic Europeans imagine such a thing!’ The general hysteria, which has already begun today, will combine—as is traditionally accepted—as many references to the Holocaust as possible.”

“So Let me tell you something,” Shaffir continues, “The State of Israel is a signatory to a variety of agreements with the EU and international organizations. Economic, scientific and technological agreements, which include a clear legal distinction between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories. And the signatory to these agreements it is not Hitler nor his friend, the Mufti, but the Israeli government and its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. Why? Because these agreements are worth tens of billions to the Israeli economy.”

Stav Shaffir is as close to a grassroots leader as you get in Israel. She gained national attention as one of the founders and organizers, and the unofficial leader of the summer of 2011 Israeli social justice protests, in which more than half a million Israelis took to the streets in huge, persistent public demonstrations. From that moment on, her rise was truly meteoric, elected to the Knesset on the Labor list at age 27, and then placing second in the January 2015 Labor primaries. Had the Zionist Camp won that 2015 election, Shaffir would have received a major government portfolio.

She writes on: “In short, just like the right-wing minister can ramble on all day long about how bad the Oslo accords are—but will never dare to cancel them and return our soldiers to the heart of the casbah in Palestinian cities, so it is in this case: nothing but shrieks and nonsense. The purest right-wing government we’ve had in years has long since sold out the settlements for a long list of economic benefits from the EU. What the European countries are doing now is to extend this ongoing, mutual understanding to the supermarket shelves.”

In a challenging tone, as befits an opposition MK and a populist leader, Shaffir concludes: “Incidentally, last week Acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated that the [EU Commission] new guidelines are [tantamount to] ‘a yellow star and delegitimization of Israel.’ If all that is true, then, in effect, the Israeli government — which has signed these agreements — is performing self-delegitimizing, and must eliminate those agreement as soon as possible, possibly tomorrow morning. Let’s see them doing it…”

Israel Initiates Partial Suspension of Diplomatic Talks with EU

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Israel has partially suspended diplomatic talks with the European Union — at least for now — over a decision by the EU to issue guidelines on labeling goods produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Earlier in the day the European Commission, which is the political arm of the EU, issued the guidelines that have been in preparation since 2012, and are a clarification of the EU’s basic position:

“The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and does not consider then to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law.”

The guidelines are to “ensure the respect of the union positions and the commitments in conformity with international law on the nonrecognition by the union of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.”

Each member state has the right to make its own decision on whether to place the “warning” consumer labels on products produced in Judea and Samaria by Jewish manufacturers, or not.

The bilateral dialogue to be abandoned by Israel relates primarily to areas of human rights and issues affecting Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon.

Bilateral dialogue in areas such as education, agriculture, science and culture will continue, he said.

However, the ministry pointed out that “product labeling strengthens the radical elements advocating a boycott against Israel and denying Israel’s right to exist.

“It does not advance any political process between Israel and the Palestinians. The opposite is the case; it is bound to reinforce the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to conduct direct negotiations with Israel, negotiations that the EU claims to support.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded harshly to the move, telling journalists in an on-camera statement:

“The labelling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories. Europe should be ashamed of itself. It took an immoral decision. Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone, while it’s fighting with its back against the wall against the wave of terror.

“The European Union is not going to hurt the Israeli economy. It’s strong enough to weather this, but it’s the Palestinian workers in Israeli enterprises in Judea and Samaria that will be hurt. This will not advance peace; it will certainly not advance truth and justice. It’s wrong. Europe should be ashamed of itself.”

Some member states are not participating in the decision, however; the UK is one country that has chosen to ignore the ban.

There has also been a backlash in the Jewish State: News 0404 reported Wednesday on a supermarket in northern Israel that removed all the products from Europe, leaving only blue and white merchandise on the shelves. The supermarket owner, who is not religious, has chosen to remain unnamed and said the “blue-and-white” initiative was strictly a patriotic move and not intended for publicity.

European Jewish Leader Exposes EU Hypocrisy

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor has called on the new European Union labeling regime for products made by Israelis in Judea and Samaria “very problematic.”

Shortly after the EU publicized its decision Wednesday, Dr. Kantor stated:

The EU has been consistently asked why Israel is made a special case without any other precedent.

The EU has refused to answer even though we see it signing agreements to profit from and contributing to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus.

In many other disputes the EU actually supports or profits from an internationally designated occupation.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU in Brussels, released today new guidelines regarding the labeling of products from Israeli companies in the West Bank that are sold in Europe.

Dr. Kantor said that the EU decision “is clearly discriminatory and stands in stark contradistinction to the EU’s own mandate to be fair and free of prejudice.

He added:

After studying the issue deeply we have concluded that there are no comparable guidelines for any other territorial dispute or what are perceived as occupations anywhere else in the world….

Furthermore, these guidelines may contravene international treaties and agreements like the World Trade Organization.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/european-jewish-leader-exposes-eu-hypocrisy/2015/11/11/

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