Labelling imports and Israeli settlements


Sir, – Contrary to Patrick Smyth’s claim, there is nothing “robust” about the EU’s rejection of US allegations that it is “anti-Israeli” to prohibit the “mislabelling of illegal settlement exports” (“US claim that labelling of exports is anti-Israeli rejected by Brussels”, World News, November 15th).

Given that Israeli colonial settlements within the Occupied Palestinian Territories are a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, goods emanating from these settlements should not be imported by the EU or any other law-bound states.

Such a demand for compliance with international law is entirely independent of whether one rejects or supports the international civil society campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli state. However, it should be stressed that it is precisely the failure (or refusal) of the international community to implement international law that has energised the BDS campaign, which grows more “robust” by the day. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.

Sir, – Euphemisms are useful to sanitise the depiction of people, events or behaviour. Cutting through the legalese and the semantics, on November 14th, the European Court of Justice, oblivious to the historical context and Europe’s shameful past, has held that any fruit or vegetables grown by Jews or goods or services exported by Jews from the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights be labelled as exported by Jews.

Sounds familiar. We had a little bit of that in Limerick in the early 1900s. We had a lot of that spawned in Nazi Germany in the earlier 1930s and spreading out from there to contaminate large parts of Europe. Of course, I will be told the court’s focus was “settlers” not Jews. To so explicitly reference Jews would be egregious. It is merely a coincidence that “settlers” and Jews happen to be the same people.

It is a foreign policy objective of the European Union and of every EU member state to encourage peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It seems it has become an unspoken policy of the EU, embedded in the European Court of Justice’s narrow perspective, that should violence ever end and should it prove possible for a two-state solution to be implemented as a result of constructive engagement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, any united independent Palestinian state should be Judenrein. In a European context such an aspiration for a state has a familiar ring to it. In a Middle Eastern context it is an objective substantially achieved by all Arab states in the aftermath of Israel becoming a UN-recognised independent state in 1948.

A crucial step along the road to conflict resolution is encouraging Israeli’s and Palestinians to work together, engage across the divide, have greater understanding of each other’s problems and perspective. I have visited some of the Jewish people residing on the West Bank who are providing employment to thousands of Palestinians who would be otherwise unemployed or in low-paid jobs and talked to Palestinians there whose standard of living and job security has hugely improved. Labelling the goods they produce as demanded by the EU will make no positive contribution to reviving a moribund peace process, merely render such goods easy targets for a malevolent nihilistic boycott campaign and endanger Palestinian jobs.

What next? Perhaps Jews who reside in East Jerusalem, on the West Bank or the Golan Heights when travelling to an EU member state should be numbered and required to wear a yellow star.

History dictates that such a possibility is not far fetched. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.