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04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

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11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

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7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

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19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

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28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

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16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


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18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



German ambassador to Israel attacks Jpost columnist for ‘fabrication’

Products made by Palestinians sold under the Zaytoun label which give place of origin. See notes and links.

The need to distinguish between fabrication and fact

Michael Freund claims the German government is joining other European Union members in their efforts to “apply special labels of origin to products manufactured by Jewish-owned factories in Judea and Samaria.”

By Andreas Michaelis
June 16, 2013

Michael Freund claims the German government is joining other European Union members in their efforts to “apply special labels of origin to products manufactured by Jewish-owned factories in Judea and Samaria.”

In his column of June 11, Michael Freund claims the German government is joining other European Union members in their efforts to “apply special labels of origin to products manufactured by Jewish-owned factories in Judea and Samaria” – something that to Freund equals declaring “don’t buy from Jews.”

According to him, “Germany has been thrown back to its darkest past.”

There is an important difference between fabrication and fact. How and why should a German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership suddenly adopt revisionist policies with regard to Israel? How and why should the country that has become Israel’s most important ally in Europe deviate from its chosen path and betray the Jewish state? Is the Germany which Freund singles out in his column the same Germany that has shown and proven through the post-war years that it treats Israel and Jewish communities around the globe with utmost respect and sympathy? We better take a look at the facts instead of being led astray by rumor, prejudice and uninformed opinion.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement provides for products from Israel to be imported into EU countries at a preferential tariff rate. In 2012 alone, German imports from Israel amounted to 1.65 billion euros – a positive development and hopefully one that will experience further growth.

The preferential treatment under the Association Agreement does not cover products from beyond the lines of June 4, 1967. They can enter the EU – and will be able to do so in the future. But customs duties need to be paid. Israel and the EU agreed on this in a Technical Agreement in 2005.

All EU foreign ministers have repeatedly reiterated that they will not recognize changes to the pre- 1967 borders, unless agreed by the conflicting parties. They have equally made clear that EU law needs to be fully implemented. No change there.

So what is this really about? EU consumer protection law sets very detailed requirements for retail labelling. They exist to provide a level playing field for trade across Europe and to inform consumers on the origin of products, among other things. Anybody vaguely familiar with this legal maze knows how extensive these regulations are. Thus, for some agricultural products – fresh fruit, wine, olive oil to name but a few – the country of origin must be stated, in accordance with the specific rules applying to that product.

When such labelling is mandatory, the geographical origin must be correctly included in the label.

When it is voluntary, traders are free to decide whether they want to display the origin on the label, unless omission of that information would mislead the consumer.

So the labelling requirements are there already. They have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The question is, however, whether products are labelled correctly.

Incorrect labelling amounts to misleading the consumer, which is prohibited under EU law.

These specific EU laws raise difficult questions with respect to all territories considered occupied, be it the West Bank or Nagorno- Karabakh.

From the EU’s point of view, “Made in Israel” is not the correct label for a product that originates in the West Bank. And it needs to be emphasized: No Israeli government has ever claimed that these areas are part of the State of Israel.

So what is currently being studied by the European Commission, as the guardian of the treaties, is the question of what exactly the existing requirements of labelling are for different kinds of products; and what correct labelling could look like for products that originate from outside the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel. Nothing more, nothing less.

As any Israeli products are already labelled “Made in Israel” (whenever origin labelling is required) and as Palestinian products face the same requirements for origin labelling as Israeli products, all talk about a special label for Jews is nonsense. There is no question of creating new EU legislation on labelling. Neither are we in the business of calling for boycotts.

Germany decidedly rejects any such attempt. What this is about is making sure that the labels in use are legally correct.

In contrast to other EU member states, Germany has not introduced national guidelines on labelling. One member state, for example, recommends to traders and retailers to use the label “Produce of the West Bank” and then to add in brackets, if they so wish, “Israeli settlement produce” or “Palestinian produce.”

We will see what the competent European bodies will propose.

Until then, I recommend some honesty in the debate.

And just to remind you. Germany is and remains one of Israel’s closest partners. All those who deal with our intimate relationship in this country know how advanced and meaningful our cooperation has become in all fields – from security to the economy. Germany would never support policies which are directed against the fundamental interest of the State of Israel.

The writer is the German ambassador to Israel.

Notes and links Shame on Germany for boycotting Jews Michael Freund attacks the EU demand for accurate labelling of all products as “an absolute outrage, one that is both morally obscene and historically indefensible, and the government of Angela Merkel should be ashamed of itself”. It is illustrated with a photograph of a German synagogue wrecked during Kristallnacht, 1938

Michael Freund is an American with an MBA in finance. He moved to Israel in the 1990s and served as Deputy Communications Director in Binyamin Netanyahu’s office. He is the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel/Israel Returns, a Jerusalem-based organization that searches for and assists the Lost Tribes of Israel and other “hidden Jews” seeking to return to Zion [sic].

Tracking Zaytoun products. Go to Zaytoun’s website and click on a product, eg Olive Oil Soap: ‘Zaytoun’s soap contains 72% olive oil which is sourced from Palestinian olive farmers in the Nablus region. It is naturally cleansing & suitable for all skin types including oily skin. It is available in plain, lemon, milk and honey varieties. The ancient city of Nablus has been producing soap since the 10th Century. Olive oil is the principal ingredient of this natural soap. The soap is made and cut by hand in beautiful old soap houses by skilled craftsmen.”

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