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Sens. Cruz, Blackburn Condemn EU Ruling Permitting Anti-Israel Business Practices

November 26, 2019

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) today sent a letter condemning the Court of Justice of the European Union’s recent ruling to permit anti-Israel business practices in the 28-member states. The ruling singles out Israeli goods for discrimination and requires special labels indicating the origin of products imported from Israeli settlements and areas the EU deems “occupied by Israel since 1967.”

“In Nazi-occupied Europe, the Jewish people were forced to wear a yellow star as a means of discrimination. Similarly, this label will apply only to products from Israel and associated disputed territories, thereby discriminating against Israel and against specific Israeli businesses,” the Senators wrote. “In singling out Israeli products, the EU has opened to door to the politicization of product labeling, all under the pretext of affirming the use of food product labels for ‘ethical’ foreign policy and international law.” 

“We find this ruling to be profoundly repugnant, as it blatantly discriminates against Israeli products with a double standard that is not applied to other sovereign nations involved in territorial disputes,” said Arthur Stark, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “There are over 200 ongoing territorial disputes across the world, yet the Court has not rendered a single ruling related to the labeling of products originating in these areas. EU related bodies unfortunately have a record of unequal treatment of Israel on legal and other matters, and the singling out of Israeli products for labeling echoes some of the darkest periods in Jewish history.”

Psagot Winery is one of the businesses affected by this decision.

“Despite the EU's longstanding policy of opposing BDS activities against Israel, the decision by the European Court of Justice, which affirmed the EU settlements labeling requirement, will embolden and empower BDS activists and campaigns,” said Yaakov Berg, Founder of Psagot Winery. “BDS groups actively supported the EU requirement, and see the Court's decision as a victory for their cause.” 

The full letter is available below.

Ms. Federica Mogherini

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Vice President of the European Commission

European Commission

Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200

1049 Brussels

Dear High Representative Mogherini,

We write today to condemn the anti-Israel business practices that were affirmed in a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) last week. The ruling will require the 28 member states to identify products imported from areas the EU identifies as “occupied by Israel since 1967,” along with those that may originate in Israeli settlements, through labels indicating their origin. This ruling stems from a 2015 notice the Commission issued that mandated product labeling for goods originating “from the West Bank” and “from the Golan Heights.”

In Nazi-occupied Europe, the Jewish people were forced to wear a yellow star as a means of discrimination. Similarly, this label will apply only to products from Israel and associated disputed territories, thereby discriminating against Israel and against specific Israeli businesses. In singling out Israeli products, the EU has opened the door to the politicization of product labeling, all under the pretext of affirming the use of food product labels for “ethical” foreign policy and international law.

More broadly, the judgment could negatively impact products coming from any territory around the world that is subject to dispute under international law. In contrast to its free trade mission, the EU requirement will create new trade barriers and may cause tensions between the EU and its trading partners, including the United States.

This CJEU decision will likely facilitate Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) tactics amounting to de facto boycotts and discrimination against Israel, contrary to existing EU policies and laws against BDS campaigns. We stand opposed to any efforts to isolate or delegitimize Israel through the BDS movement and therefore urge the Commission to repeal or revise its notice on the labeling of Israeli products.

Sincerely, 

Marsha Blackburn

United States Senator

 

Ted Cruz

United States Senator

 

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