Beyond Labels

Confronting Europe's Burgeoning Boycott of Israeli Goods

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Posted on: 
23 Jan 2016
Beyond Labels

Late last year the European Commission issued a directive to twenty-eight national governments in Europe instructing them to no longer recognize Israeli goods originating beyond the 1967 borders as Made in Israel.

While EU bureaucrats downplayed the directive as merely offering technical guidance in response to concerns raised by various governments, a number of prominent Members of the European Parliament, legal experts and activists joined a delegation of ICEJ National Directors and staff in Brussels to challenge the move, arguing it was the latest step in a growing boycott of Israel.

Opening the ICEJ-sponsored symposium on December 2, Hannu Takkula, a Member of the European Parliament from Finland, warned that the guidelines “would not only harm the economic relations, but also will have an unfortunate impact on cooperation in every field.”

Peter Östman, a parliamentarian from Finland, put it more succinctly, “At the same time that EU is lifting sanctions against Iran,” he argued, “it is building a boycott against Israel.”

Speakers at the one-day gathering in the European Parliament included international legal expert, Prof. Avi Bell, Father Gabriel Naddaf, Greek Orthodox priest and founder of the Israeli Christian Empowerment Council (ICRF), and Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands. Other participants included Daniel Constanza, Executive Director of the Pentecostal European Fellowship, Dutch MEP Bas Belder – a member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee – and the ICEJ’s US Outreach Director, Michael Hines.

“This labelling law will only divide Israelis and Palestinians further,” said ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler in a statement released prior to the Symposium. Ironically, the 15,000 Palestinian workers who depend on Israeli factories in the territories for their livelihood are among those most impacted by the ruling. “It’s a one-sided law that unjustly singles out Israel and violates the rules of the World Trade Organization,” Bühler said. “If the EU really wants to promote peace they should stop penalizing those Israelis and Palestinians who are working together to make a living.”

"As a Christian leader, raised in Nazareth, living among the Arab Muslims, I tell you clearly: This decision affects Muslims, Christians, Druze and all other minority citizens of Israel, not just the Jews,” echoed Father Naddaf. “This labelling of Israeli products is a further betrayal of Christian values in Europe, and it further weakens the Christian spirit in Europe." 

To learn more about the symposium and to read the full ICEJ response to the labelling law go to: www.icej.org/beyond-labels

 

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