[News] The real message from EU move to label Israeli settlement goods
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 12 11:44:45 EST 2015
The real message from EU move to label Israeli settlement goods
Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah>
12 November 2015
After years of dithering and delay, the European Union on Wednesday
finally took the minimal step of requiring labels clearly marking goods
that come from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian and
Syrian land in violation of international law.
Palestinians welcomed the move, but are decidedly underwhelmed.
Nonetheless the European step holds some important messages.
Mahmoud Nawajaa <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/mahmoud-nawajaa>,
general coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bnc>, the broad coalition that
backs the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, said it was a
“sign that European governments are reacting to public opinion, civil
society campaigning and Israeli intransigence and are becoming more
willing to take some basic action against Israeli violations of
But, Nawajaa added, “putting some labels on a small number of Israeli
products is hardly a proportionate response to repeated Israeli war crimes.”
Not “Made in Israel”
Under the new regulation
labeling of goods imported into the EU “must be correct and not misleading.”
Products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank,
including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/golan-heights> can no longer be
marked “Made in Israel.”
The EU requires that the words “Israeli settlement” be added to the
labels that consumers will see in stores.
It is unclear how the regulation will be enforced: Israeli exporters
customs officials and retail chains about the origin of their goods.
The regulation also says that “products from Palestine that do not
originate from settlements” can be marked ‘product from Palestine’ or
‘product from West Bank (Palestinian product).’”
The EU considers “Palestine” to be limited, at most, to the occupied
West Bank and Gaza Strip – just 22 percent of historic Palestine.
Article 1 Collective <https://www.article1collective.org>, a group that
advocates for Palestinian rights under international law, had this
tongue-in-cheek suggestion of what the new labels might look like:
"#EU <https://twitter.com/hashtag/EU?src=hash> approves labeling of
Israel settlement products" Will they be using our label?
— Article1Collective (@Article1C) November 11, 2015
The EU move smacks of hypocrisy.
While taking a minor step, EU governments still refuse to end their arms
and other material support for Israeli crimes, as hundreds of European
trade unions and other organizations have demanded
EU countries sent weapons and military exports to Israel worth $1
billion <http://www.bdsmovement.net/2015/links-that-kill-13476> in 2012-13.
continue to carry out joint training with the Israeli army, despite its
well-documented war crimes
against Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere.
My colleague David Cronin
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin> has meticulously
documented the myriad ways the EU funds and actively supports Israel’s
It is also notable that France has been particularly keen on the
labeling of settlement goods. But what, ultimately is its purpose if not
to allow consumers to make the choice to boycott these goods?
Yet, France continues to hypocritically prosecute and fine
its own citizens for the “crime” of calling for just such boycotts.
As long as such complicity continues, the EU labeling move – as much as
it might anger Israel – is a fig leaf for European policies that
continue to help Israel kill Palestinians and steal their land.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nahshon said
the new labeling policy was “discriminatory” and “smacks of boycott.”
In a sign of their anger, Israeli officials canceled meetings
<http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.685539> with EU counterparts.
As /The New York Times/ reported
Israeli politicians condemned the move as an “echo of the Holocaust-era
branding of European Jews and their storefronts with yellow stars.”
Michael Oren <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/michael-oren>, the
former Israeli ambassador to Washington who is now a lawmaker in the
government coalition, posted a photo on Facebook
of a storefront in Nazi Germany daubed with a Star of David and the word
“Jew,” and a sign telling Germans not to frequent Jewish-owned businesses.
Some Israel supporters posted images on social media
<https://twitter.com/redbrasco/status/662363016374038529> of the EU flag
emblazoned with a Nazi swastika.
The pro-Israel publication /The New York Times/ hammered the point home
in its own social media messaging:
EU to label Israeli goods made in settlements, a move some equate to
Nazi's yellow star https://t.co/i6OYDXl0jm
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 11, 2015
Might as well show courage
These unhinged reactions holds two key messages. First, by comparing EU
labeling to Nazism, Israel’s backers demonstrate that no tactic is too
depraved or indecent.
Using the Nazi genocide to deflect criticism from Israel’s racist,
illegal theft of land from Palestinians cheapens the lives of the
millions of Jews murdered by Europeans.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself recently showed
that such disgusting propaganda was fair game when he fabricated the
that Hitler got the idea for the Holocaust from a Palestinian.
The second lesson is one that chronically gutless European leaders
Once Israeli leaders have labeled you a Nazi, there’s really nothing
worse they can say.
So if EU leaders are likened to Hitler for a move as minimal as mere
labeling of settlement goods, then why not do something more courageous
The price is the same, so you might as well support all Palestinian
rights and all legitimate means to achieve them.
But sadly, EU leaders are unlikely to absorb this. Instead, they’ve been
trying to assuage Israel’s rage by professing a deep desire for even
more cooperation and complicity with it, and downplaying the
significance of the labeling move.
The most important message is this: EU leaders will continue to coddle
Israel’s brutal regime of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism
unless European citizens maintain and escalate their valiant solidarity
campaigns with the Palestinian people.
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