(May 6, 2021 / JNS) A Canadian federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision that barred “Product of Israel” labels for wines produced in Judea and Samaria.
In July of 2020, the Federal Court of Canada had ruled that it was “false, misleading or deceptive” for wines produced by Israeli vintners east of the Green Line to be labeled “Product of Israel.” Parts of the decision had also lent support to boycotts of Jewish communities, suggesting that the “Product of Israel” obstructed consumers’ right to boycott these communities.
However, the Federal Court of Appeal reversed this decision, ruling that the lower court judge had gone too far in its decision and that the federal agency, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that initially reviewed the labels should be allowed to try again, with all options remaining open.
“We welcome the decision, which puts this matter back on track to being resolved fairly and correctly,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “B’nai Brith has engaged with decision-makers on this issue since the very beginning and will continue to do so as this matter progresses. We say proudly that Jews returning to producing wine in their indigenous homeland is something to be celebrated, not stigmatized.”
Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said he is not surprised by the appeals court ruling.
“CIJA believes that current labeling practices are fully consistent with the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, as well as Canadian and international law,” he said.
He added that until there is a final-status agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, “wines produced under the authority and regulatory framework of Israel should be labeled accordingly.”
The Psagot Winery, located north of Jerusalem in Samaria, had been part of the appeals process after it was prevented from properly labelling its wine.
Brook Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, said that the “decision once again aligns U.S. and Canadian labeling policies, allowing Psâgot to export wine to North America without the commercial challenge of navigating a patchwork of arbitrary and discriminatory rules.”
“Make no mistake, anyone who wants to treat a Jewish-owned business differently than a Muslim or Christian-owned business located in the same territory, is promulgating a racist policy.”
Yaakov Berg, CEO of Psagot Winery, said that their wines are “made in Israel by an Israeli company that pays Israeli taxes and is subject to Israeli law.”
“I am glad the Canadian Court of Appeals recognized the unreasonableness of denying them the right to include their country of origin on their bottles.”
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