The Federalist posted an article today about a recent decision by the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court in the EU. The court ruled that Jewish products made in contested areas of Israel must bear consumer warning labels.
The article notes:
Prior to the ruling, U.S. lawmakers in Congress fired warning shots, cautioning the EU that such a move would prompt the enforcement of American anti-boycott laws, thus endangering the EU’s trade with the United States.
Now, according to reporting by Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, the Trump administration is ready to go to battle over the ruling. Currently, the United States is the EU’s largest trading partner.
The origins of the legal dispute stretch back several years to when the EU issued a mandate in 2015 declaring that products produced in the West Bank and Golan Heights be labeled as coming from an Israeli settlement, facially for the purpose of promoting “consumer protection,” although it’s unclear if that is actually achieved here. In late 2016, France became the first EU member state to attempt to enforce the mandate, resulting in the Israeli winery Psagot filing a lawsuit claiming that such a mandate violated the EU’s anti-discrimination laws.
Under the new rule, goods produced by Jews will be labeled as having been produced in an Israeli settlement, while goods produced by Muslims may be labeled as made in “Palestine,” indicating blatant discriminatory treatment. Unsurprisingly, Israel’s presence in the West Bank and the Golan Heights are the only contested areas in the world to be the focus of the labeling ire of the EU.
The article notes that Israel is the only country singled out for this treatment:
“No other territory, occupied, disputed, or otherwise is subject to such requirements,” noted Eugene Kontorovich, director of the Center for International Law in the Middle East at George Mason University. Kontorovich emphasized the peculiarity of the ruling. “In no other case does any ‘origin labeling’ require any kind of statement about the political circumstances in the area. This is a special Yellow Star for Jewish products only.”
Indeed, there are a multitude of contested areas throughout the world that produce goods for which the EU has deemed politicized labeling requirements unnecessary. Despite Russia’s occupation of parts of Georgia or Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, nothing in EU law or greater international law requires labeling goods produced by Russia in occupied parts of Georgia as “Made in Georgia” or goods produced by Morocco in Western Sahara as “Made in Western Sahara.”
Just a side note about the concept of contested territories. If you look at a map of the land originally given to form a Jewish state, it not only includes the ‘contested territories,’ it includes Jordan. The country of Jordan was originally intended to be the Palestinian state (as there had never been a Palestinian state), but was turned over to the Hashemites. For pictures illustrating the history of Israeli territory, go here.