The province of Ontario’s regulatory agency for liquor LCBO ordered on Tuesday that stores remove Israeli wines from their shelves because of a dispute over the proper labeling of the goods from the disputed territories.
“The CFIA [Canadian Food Inspection Agency] clarified that ‘Products of Israel’ would not be an acceptable country of origin declaration for wine products that have been made from grapes that are grown fermented, processed, blended and finished in the West Bank occupied territory,” wrote the Liquor Control Board of Ontario in a letter to wine vendors.
Vincent Caron, LCBO’s senior policy adviser, who authored the letter, added: “I am requesting that all vendors discontinue any importations or sales labeled as ‘Products of Israel’ from the wineries named above (or other located in the same regions) until further notice.”
The letter cited the Israeli wine manufactures Psagot Winery, which is just north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin region, and Shiloh Winery in Samaria. The two wineries label their merchandise “Products of Israel.”
A Jerusalem Post press query to Israel’s Foreign Ministry was not immediately returned.
In response to the LCBO action, B’nai Brith Canada wrote on its website that “it is expecting that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will soon rescind its recent decision to order the removal of certain Israeli wines from store shelves.”
Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, said “B’nai Brith has received a lot of information on this matter from multiple sources and officials during the past 24 hours as we were advocating on behalf of the community.”
He added: “We can say now that we are expecting this disturbing decision to be corrected in short order.”
“In the meantime, we call on Canadians from coast to coast to purchase Israeli wine, in order to demonstrate solidarity and friendship with the democratic State of Israel. Please mention the Shiloh and Psagot wines you would like to see on store shelves to liquor store employees,” said Mostyn.
Last year, Berlin’s high-end department store KaDeWe removed Israeli wines from its shelves over a similar labeling dispute. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the department store at the time.
“We strongly protest 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.”
KaDeWe relented and restocked its shelves with Israeli wine and apologized.
KaDeWe, which was boycotted in the 1930s because of its Jewish owners, said last year that it was adhering to new EU guidelines mandating labels on goods from the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The EU imposed its labeling system on Israeli products in late 2015. “This is a discriminatory policy,” said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz at the time, adding, “We all remember when Jewish products were last labeled in Europe,” in a reference to Nazi Germany’s antisemitic laws and policies.
Benjamin Weinthal is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.
Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.