[Published 16 December 2015]
Hungary and Greece have broken ranks with the European Union in signalling they want nothing to do with the recently introduced EU labelling laws requiring Jewish products originating in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to have special labels and not be marked “made in Israel”.
These decisions follow hard on the heels of European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel chairman - Fulvio Martusciello - warning:
“The decision to label products was a mistake. Europe is loud about Israel, but quiet about 200 other conflicts around the world.”
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced Hungary’s decision:
“We do not support the decision to make a special mark on products coming from the West Bank or the Golan Heights. This step is inefficient and illogical. It would only hurt attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Greece’s decision was communicated by letter from its Foreign Minister to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a visit by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Israel - when extensive bilateral cooperation in economic matters, technology, science, education, trade, energy, and agriculturewere concluded.
MeantimeGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is backing a recent German Foreign Ministry statement that the new EU labeling initiative:
“does not deal with a stigmatized warning decal, as many have presented… What Brussels wants is, however, only a clear designation of the origin of the products.”
This Foreign Ministry thinking was no doubt influenced by the illegal invasion of many hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants into Germany and the huge economic and social problems faced by Germany in their resettlement.
Merkel has publicly opposed boycotts of Israel - which continues to receive preferential market access from Germany.
Will Germany’s Foreign Ministry now call for similar EU labelling of goods originating from other disputed regions around the world?
Surprisingly EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini - following talks with EU foreign ministers on 14 December — chose to refer to two points that were not part of the agenda but were debated among those present:
“One is related to the Middle East peace process, especially after the adoption of the technical guidelines on indication of origin. We had an exchange of views in this respect with the ministers, and we commonly decided that it was important also for me to pass this message publicly that the Council and the European Union stay united on these technical guidelines on indication of origin, which is in no way a boycott and should in no way be interpreted as one,”
Claiming to be united on these “technical guidelines” — despite their having been already rejected by Hungary and Greece—is surely deceptive and misleading.
Describing the labelling of Jewish products — but not Arab products - as “technical guidelines” - is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.
They constitute clear “stigmatized warning decals”.
“The second thing on which the Council was completely united is our continued engagement in the Middle East peace process and in broader bilateral relations with Israel. There is full unity and solidarity among member states and among European institutions on that.”
Mogherini is seriously mistaken if she thinks Israel will allow a clearly conflicted EU to remain part of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers which also includes the UN, United States and Russia.
No amount of doublespeak will enable the EU to escape the charges that these labelling requirements:
1. Are racist and discriminate against JewsDouble standards and political hypocrisy will eventually bring even the most powerful down to earth.
2. Trample on Jewish vested legal rights to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem