What’s behind last week’s European Court of Justice ruling that Israeli goods produced in settlements on the West Bank must be labeled that they are from occupied territory and not from Israel itself? We ask this question because the ruling
reflects a disconcerting bias against Israel and gives ammunition to those who want to isolate Israel economically and weaken it politically.
First, the bias. The ECJ says labels are required so that consumers will not mistake the products for those made in Israel proper. But is Israel the only country in which territory is disputed? Why hasn’t ECJ required similar territorial labels for products made in disputed areas controlled by Turkey, Russia, Morocco or India? Why just Israel? That glaring double standard, according to the European Union’s International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, constitutes anti-Semitism, and is cause for grave concern.
Then there’s the aid and comfort to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), and further promotion of the anti-Israel narrative. In a letter to European Parliament President David Sassoli, in which he called the ECJ ruling “disgraceful,” Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said that the “selective information” on which the court based its ruling “will inevitably result in a boycott of goods — first those from Judea, Samaria [West Bank] and the Golan Heights and then those from Israel as a whole.” He went on to say that “in doing so, the court has knowingly adopted the arguments long propounded by the BDS movement, whose extremist agenda aims to destroy the economy of Israel.”
While Edelstein’s points are well taken, it is the slippery slope that concerns us. The BDS movement wants to end Israel’s challenged occupation of contested areas. But its objective is not the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Instead, it seeks to delegitimize Israel and her claim to sovereignty. The ECJ’s offensive ruling plays right into that corrosive narrative.
Other reactions to the ECJ ruling were similarly direct: The American Jewish Committee Transatlantic responded, saying, “labelling plays into the hands of those who seek to isolate and demonize the only Jewish state.” AIPAC tweeted that the court was supporting “discriminatory boycotts against the Jewish State.”
So what’s next? Should Israel simply avoid international tribunals, virtually all of which seem to lack a moral or measured ethical backbone and shamelessly reflect dogmatic bias against the Jewish state? Or is there some point in engaging in the
international dialogue, in the hopes of bringing logic, morality, equality and some semblance of justice to these proceedings?
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wants to work with his European counterparts to prevent the implementation of what he called “this gravely flawed policy.” We wish him luck, but we’re not optimistic. The destructive virus of international
anti-Israel bias runs deep, and has, unfortunately, infected international tribunals of all types. We need a major, global reset.