[News] The real message from EU move to label Israeli settlement goods

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
international law.”

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 
routinely deceive 
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?
    https://t.co/Ypne5dsQ1a pic.twitter.com/LtXbwrlQ44

    — Article1Collective (@Article1C) November 11, 2015

    EU hypocrisy

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.

Greece, Italy 
and Germany 
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 
war machine.

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.

    Nazi comparisons

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
    pic.twitter.com/cxArXEeVqI <https://t.co/cxArXEeVqI>

    — 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 
should heed.

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 
and effective?

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.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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