(Taybeh Winery/Facebook) (Taybeh Winery/Facebook)
Taybeh winery Nadim

Lawyer for BDS activists threatens to sue a Canadian agency for holding up wines labeled made in ‘Palestine’ while searching for more Israeli products to ban.

By Atara Beck

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Canada is going full steam in its goal to remove Israeli-made wines from the shelves and, it appears, to establish facts on the ground by promoting products from “Palestine.”

Last month, in a case involving a complaint filed by Dr. David Kattenburg, a Winnipeg-based pro-Palestinian activist, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ruled that ‘product of Israel’ labels on wines made in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) are “false, misleading and deceptive.”

The ruling in the case of Kattenburg vs. Attorney General of Canada – in favor of Kattenburg – was decided by Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish, who said that “consumers have to be provided with accurate information as to the source of the products in question.”

The wines, produced by the Shiloh and Psagot wineries, are made by Israeli citizens in Israeli-controlled territory.

Meanwhile, only recently, Taybeh Winery, located in the Palestinian Authority-administered area of Judea and Samaria, of which Israel has overriding security control, advertised that its ‘Nadim’ wines would be available in Canada in the summer of 2019, labeled “Taybeh Winery of Palestine.” In fact, there is no such country.

United with Israel (UWI) emailed CFIA, asking why the labeling of wine “made in Israel” was prohibited while the sale of products from “Taybeh Winery of Palestine” would apparently be allowed.

CFIA responded, saying merely that “It is the responsibility of the regulated party to ensure that labeling requirements are met, including that the label is not false or misleading” – despite the recent ruling against the wines “made in Israel.”

“Questions about countries of origin declarations should be directed to Global Affairs Canada,” the agency added.

Ron East, a pro-Israel activist in Winnipeg and publisher of TheJ.Ca, told UWI that he had also contacted CFIA – in fact, already at the end of July – and encouraged others to do so as well. JDL-Canada sent out an email alert to its followers last week.

“I raised concerns about Palestinian products available for sale in Canada labeled ‘Made in Palestine’. These included olive oil, spices, soaps and included the upcoming sales of wines and beers,” he said.

UWI also discovered last week, through a Taybeh wine representative, that a shipment had been sent to Canada a couple of months ago but “the Canadian government is holding the goods because of a recent law.”

UWI asked CFIA why the wine is not yet available and whether it has anything to do with the labeling. “No shipments of wine in question are being held by CFIA,” the agency responded.

On Friday, however, Toronto BDS activist Karen Rodman posted on the “Palestine Just Trade” website that the Ontario liquor board (LCBO) had put the wine shipment on hold as directed by CFIA.

Searching for More Israeli Products to Ban

Rodman also posted a letter to CFIA, written on August 28 by Montreal-based Dimitri Lascaris, legal counsel for Palestine Just Trade, listing dozens of “falsely labeled wines” from the “Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights or Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory” for sale in Ontario. The letter was copied to the LCBO.

“Attached hereto is a chart identifying those falsely labeled wines,” Lasacris wrote. “That chart is not necessarily exhaustive – our research is ongoing and, in the weeks ahead, we might well identify other such wines being offered for sale in Canada.”

He enclosed a certificate from the Palestinian Authority, along with a translation, confirming that Al Taybeh Company for Manufacturing Beer and General Trade is based in Ramallah, which is under PA rule.

Lascaris also threatened legal action.

“In our view, the manner in which the CFIA and LCBO are dealing with accurately labeled Taybeh products and falsely labeled products from Israeli settlements in occupied territory is plainly discriminatory. If necessary, we will institute legal proceedings to protect our client’s rights, but we are hopeful that litigation can be avoided and that the CFIA will immediately confirm to the LCBO that the Taybeh products can be sold in Canada as currently labeled,” he concluded.

BDS and Terror

Palestine Just Trade, according to its website, advocates for “Palestinian human rights.” One of its misleading campaigns, titled “No Way to Treat a Child,” claims that each year the Israeli military detains and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children.” There is no mention of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, often carried out by minors.

In fact, pointing to the absurd claim that buying products made in the Golan or in Judea and Samaria contributes to Israeli “war crimes,” East also notes that “the people attempting to bringing the wine into Canada are also the main BDS organizers in Canada … as we know BDS has been shown to have its roots and tentacles aligned with terror organizations.”

Pointing to the PA’s pay-for-slay policy, he continues:

“While I make no claim that Taybeh Wines provides direct funding to support terrorism, I make reference to the simple fact that in order to have a licence to operate, they have to pay fees and taxes which are collected by both the municipality and the Palestinian Authority. These fees and taxes collected by the PA are then used to help prop the terror regime, pay salaries of terrorists, etc.

“So while the Winery may not directly support any terror organization, by virtue of paying taxes and fees to the PA and further aligning with a company founded by BDS leadership within Canada they are tacitly supporting terrorism,” East says.

B’nai Brith Calls for ‘Fairness and Equity’

B’nai Brith Canada had been given intervener status in the case of of Kattenburg vs. Attorney General of Canada. CEO Michael Mostyn, commenting on the decision made in July in favor of Kattenburg, told UWI at the time that “in our view, it is reasonable and not at all misleading to label wines produced by Israeli citizens in Israeli-controlled territory as Products of Israel. We will be asking the Attorney-General to appeal this decision, since we cannot do so as interveners. If the decision is appealed, we look forward to continuing to make arguments as interveners.”

Last week, Mostyn told UWI that “one of the reasons that B’nai Brith became an intervener in the original Israeli wine case before the federal court of Canada was to argue for fairness and equity in wine-labeling practices and to point out the correctness of allowing the labeling of ‘product of Israel’ for wineries in any region under Israeli control.

“B’nai Brith argued in court that any other understanding would be problematic from a consistency standpoint when labeling products originating from any other region in the world that was disputed. And here we have an example of this very phenomenon – there’s inconsistency, and that is why B’nai Brith disagrees with this legal decision [not to allow ‘product of Israel’ labeling]. We believe that decision should be appealed.”