When Is a West Bank Product Made in Israel? When Settlers Say So

If you only get your news through the filter of the Israeli right, you might be under the impression that after Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Israel’s biggest deadliest enemy right now is the European Union.

The EU’s crime — or, more exactly, the European Court of Justice’s crime — was to issue a ruling on Tuesday requiring products made in West Bank settlements to be labeled as being made in a West Bank settlement.

To those who naively think a product’s “Made in” label should identify where it is made, be warned that you don’t understand what is at stake. The Lawfare Project, which is dedicated to defending the “civil and human rights of the Jewish people and pro-Israel community,” termed the ruling nothing less than “disastrous,” one that will politicize product labeling and — horror of horrors — enable people to purchase goods based on “subjective ‘ethical considerations.’”

And that was one of the more restrained responses.

One commentator framed it as part of an EU drive “to ethnically cleanse the heart of the Jewish homeland of Jews.” A statement from Psagot Winery, which had brought the suit trying to block the labeling requirement, angrily noted that the ruling was issued “on the very same day that Palestinian terror organizations are firing rockets at millions of Israeli citizens” — as if the EU and PIJ were co-conspirators in a two-pronged assault on the Jewish state. Even Israel’s Foreign Ministry echoed the settler playbook, claiming that the ruling “emboldens radical anti-Israel groups that advance and call for boycotts against Israel and deny its right to exist.”

When you get past all the invective, the right-wing rage is essentially based on three dubious claims.

One is that by requiring settlement businesses to identify themselves, the labeling rule discriminates against Jews since only Jews live in settlements. This is nonsense. The labeling requirement is based on the business’ location in a settlement, not on whether the business is owned by a Jew. If Psagot chooses one day to move its operations inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, it can label its wine “Made in Israel.”