Grapes harvested in Israeli injustice

An article exposing both the Canadian government’s craven subservience  to Israel and a Canadian federal politician seemingly more interested in defending Israel’s suborning of international law, finally appeared in our paper of  record the Globe and Mail.

Sean Fine’s July 29 article was headed

Federal Court orders removal of ‘Product of Israel’ labels from West Bank wines

Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish on July 29  ruled that it was “false, misleading and deceptive” to label wines made in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as a “Product of Israel.”

Canada’s Federal Court had been asked to rule in the case of David Kattenburg who disagreed with a decision by the Canadian government’s Food Inspection Agency to allow the labels.

Fine wrote that “Judge Mactavish ruled on Monday that Canadian consumers have a constitutional right to accurate labelling because their buying choices may be an expression of their thought, conscience or religious beliefs.One peaceful way in which people can express their political views is through their purchasing decisions,” To be able to express their views in this manner, however, consumers have to be provided with accurate information as to the source of the products in question.”

All this begs the question where was the Trudeau government in all this.

Dr. Kattenburg, a member of Winnipeg’s Jewish community and a child of Holocaust survivors, complained in early 2017 to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about two wines produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. Kattenburg, who criticized Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, argued that such labeling “facilitates Israel’s de facto annexation of large portions of the West Bank,” according to the court ruling.

Kattenburg writing on Mondoweiss before the judge’s decision  said:” Back in the Summer of 2017, in union with B’Nai Brith Canada (BBC) and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (Canada’s AIPAC), North York LiberaMichael Levitt helped engineer the quashing of a ruling by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that unlawful Jewish settlement wines labeled “Product of Israel” could not be sold on Canadian store shelves.

What or whom will Michael Levitt be standing up for? Israel, probably. But Levitt’s confusion is rooted in his political philosophy, not his ethnicity or religious faith. I’m Jewish, and I haven’t a scintilla of loyalty to the “Jewish State.” Nor do any of my Jewish friends. The flip side of the coin are Christian Zionists like John Hagee, the Land of Israel in their DNA and Jew hatred in their heart…Canadian lobbyists scurrying around on Israel’s behalf (including MPs like Michael Levitt), nothing matters more than Israel’s right to do whatever it wants, and Canadian laws be damned.

Levitt is a former board member of of the Zionist organization Jewish National Fund

In July 2018 the CFIA rescinded its earlier ruling after a ferocious lobby effort Kattenburg wrote:

Having successfully defended Israel’s right to thwart Canadian consumer protection law and Canada’s solemn commitments under a host of international conventions, Israel’s good friend Michael Levitt was among the first to lift a glass in celebration:

“Whether in times of crisis or celebration, I will always be a strong voice for the Jewish community in a government that is committed to the friendship and unwavering bond between Canada and Israel … I will continuously work towards building and strengthening the bond between our two countries. As a testament to this, I will be traveling to Israel later this month and look forward to connecting with both wineries to demonstrate my support.”

Note here is a parliamentarian sworn to defend the rule of law crowing about an issue patently illegal.

The Canadian government should have been vigilant here as Kattenburg wrote:

The most principled arguments Canadian officials should have put to Israel and its domestic agents would have been based on Canada’s commitments under international law. Settlements are considered a “grave breach” under the Fourth Geneva Convention (incorporated into Canadian domestic law as the Geneva Convention Act), therefore a crime under the Rome Statute, to which Canada is a signatory. Viewed in its entirety, the settlement enterprise amounts to de facto annexation, a major crime Canada is duty bound to oppose. Article 1 of the FGC obliges High Contracting Parties like Canada to hold miscreants accountable for their crimes — certainly not offer economic aid and support, which is what preferential tariff treatment amounts to. Furthermore, Article 25

The CFIA had defended its usage for the wines made in the West Bank settlements by citing the free trade agreement between Canada and Israel.

That move was backed by Canada’s attorney general, who said it was reasonable to refer back to the free trade agreement, given that the Palestinian territory is “not part of a recognized country,” and such a label would meet Canadian requirements.

But Judge Anne Mactavish said because “there is no dispute that the settlements in which the wines are produced are not part of the territory of the State of Israel,” she was finding for Kattenburg.

“Identifying the wines as ‘Products of Israel’ is false, misleading and deceptive and interferes with the ability of Canadian consumers to make informed and rational decisions to buy conscientiously,” she said.

“Individuals opposed to the creation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank need accurate information as to the origins of a product to be able to express their opposition,” she added.

“Incorrectly identifying the wines as ‘Products of Israel’ inhibits the ability of consumers to express their political views through their purchasing choices” and limits their freedom of expression, she said.

Mactavish said the CFIA will have to determine how to label the wines.

In 2015, the European Union approved guidelines for member states to include the phrase “Israeli settlement” on labels of products from Jewish enclaves in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, all of which were occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel was furious at the move.