German department-store apologizes after Israeli PM’s condemnation of German store for turning EU’s decision to label Jewish ‘settlement’ products into outright boycott.
By HERB KEINON
The German Department store KaDeWe, which on Saturday removed from its store wine produced in the Golan Heights, apologized for the move on Sunday and returned the bottles to the shelves.
Following a great deal of criticism on social media and a protest from the Green Party’s Volker Beck, president of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Bundestag, a spokesman for the department store sent him a letter of apology.
“The eight Israeli wines will be immediately returned,” the letter read. “On this issue, dealt with following recommendations of the European Commission, we acted too fast and without sensitivity. We are sorry that the mistaken action of the KaDeWe Group lead to misunderstandings, and we want to apologize for that.”
The department store then went on to say that it carries a wide array of international products, including more than 200 Israeli products.
“The KaDeWe is a symbol of cosmopolitanism and internationalism, and we reject intolerance from any side,” the letter read.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the department store, and told the cabinet that the German government should take action against it.
Pointing out that this department story was originally owned by Jews, and confiscated by the Nazis, Netanyahu said that what began with the labeling of products, has evolved into a full-blown boycott of those products.
“We strongly protest against this step, which is morally, substantively, and historically unacceptable,” Netanyahu said. “We expect the German government, which came out against product labeling, to act on this grave matter.”
A department store spokesman said Saturday that the wines were removed from the shelves because of the new EU guidelines on settlement product labelling, and that they would go on sale again after they were re-labelled.
On November 11, after months of discussion, the European Commission issued guidelines calling for products made in settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights to be be labeled as such, and not as products from Israel because that would be “misleading consumers.”
Netanyahu’s comments dovetailed with what he said last week at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference about the need to condemn such moves.
“I think condemnation is very important,” he said. “When somebody does something outrageous, you say it. You don’t say: Oh, well, let it pass. It’s outrageous. It should be said so.”
Speaking even before the KaDeWe in Berlin took its steps, Netanyahu said of the whole labelling issue that it was morally abhorrent because it was within “living memory” of when Jewish products and stores were labeled on European soil. He said that he would expect that Europe would not “adopt this heinous act which has such horrible historical overtones.”
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