Canadian Gov’t appeals Federal court ruling on ‘settlement’ wines

The Government of Canada announced intention to appeal a court ruling that wine produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria cannot be labeled as ‘Made in Israel’.

By Elad Benari, Canada


Jewish groups in Canada on Friday welcomed an announcement by the Government of Canada that it will appeal a court ruling that wine originating from Judea and Samaria cannot be labeled as products made in Israel.

In July, Canada’s Federal Court ruled that it was “false, misleading and deceptive” to label wines made in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as a “Product of Israel.”

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The court had been asked to rule in the case of David Kattenburg, the child of Holocaust survivors who disagreed with a decision by the Canadian government’s Food Inspection Agency to allow the labels.

Kattenburg, who criticized Israel’s policies, argued that such labeling “facilitates Israel’s de facto annexation of large portions of the West Bank,” according to the court ruling.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), welcomed the appeal by Canada’s government.

“CIJA commends the Government of Canada for appealing the decision by Justice Mactavish. Considering the substantive errors in the earlier judgement and the importance of the outcome of this case, CIJA will be seeking intervenor status in the appeal. We have retained the services of administrative law experts Mark Freiman and Eric Gertner,” he said.

“It is our expectation that the Federal Court of Appeal will overturn the lower court’s decision. Our position is that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency came to a reasonable decision in accepting the label ‘Product of Israel’ for wines produced in all the geographical area comprised in the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement,” he added.

CIJA Legal Task Force member, Mark Freiman, said, “This appeal raises basic important legal issues involving the role of courts in relation to the conclusions of specialized expert agencies. The decision under appeal also involves the court making assumptions and drawing unjustified conclusions in areas including human rights and Charter jurisprudence in which CIJA has a deep interest and extensive expertise and can thus be of assistance to the Court.”

B’nai Brith Canada similarly welcomed the appeal and said that it, too, would apply for intervener status.

“We welcome the Attorney-General’s move to appeal, which was the only reasonable option available to him in this case,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “B’nai Brith looks forward to continuing to present the views of Canada’s grassroots Jewish community as this litigation continues.”

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) applauded the decision to appeal the ruling as well.

“The Federal Court ruling was deeply problematic and we are very pleased that the Attorney General will be moving forward with an appeal,” said FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo.

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“There is nothing misleading labelling a wine as a product of Israel if it is produced by Israelis in an area controlled by Israel,” Benlolo said. “We are hopeful that the Court of Appeal will overturn the ruling, which we feel effectively discriminates against Israelis in the West Bank.”

July’s ruling was welcomed by Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), who said the ruling was “an affirmation of the supremacy of the law and Canada’s obligation to respect international law, which considers settlements illegal and does not recognize them as part of Israel.”


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