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December 8, 2015 5:12 am

Israel Must Assert Itself — and Its Rights — Throughout the World

avatar by Judith Bergman

Email a copy of "Israel Must Assert Itself — and Its Rights — Throughout the World" to a friend
EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Photo: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia Commons.

EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Photo: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia Commons.

There would be something very tasteless in Germany labeling Israeli goods, which is perhaps why Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, after a meeting at a German foundation on Thursday marking 50 years of German-Israeli friendship, “Obviously, there is no question of Germany following this disastrous move.”

Edelstein should not be holding his breath. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2008 declared Israel’s security to be a core state value and vowed to always stand by its side, that core value has clearly become much devalued since. This became abundantly clear when Merkel and her government decided to cheer on the infamous nuclear deal with Iran. Since then, the most senior representatives from her government and German industries have been busy visiting the mullahs in Teheran, drooling at the prospects of doing big business with one of the worst regimes in the world, which openly threatens Israel with annihilation.

If Merkel did nothing to oppose the Iran deal — which is much more threatening to Israel’s security than any European labeling could ever be — she will do very little to oppose European labeling of Israeli goods. At any rate, the opposing should have been done years ago, when the decision was made in the European Union, and not now after the fact. Merkel may have had the best intentions in 2008 — who knows — but she has certainly not followed up on them in practice since. Empty words and diplomatic niceties do not substitute genuine friendship.

Officially, Merkel’s government has not yet issued a public statement on product labeling, making it impossible to say at this point whether Germany will support it or not. Juergen Hardt, the foreign affairs spokesman for Merkel’s Christian Democrats in parliament, has criticized the measure, saying, “It is very likely that this measure will be exploited for campaigns that aim to direct hostility toward Israel.” But Germany’s Foreign Ministry has defended the move. In a recent email sent to the Jerusalem Post, it stated that all the EU wants is “only a clear designation of the origin of the products.”

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Being one of the most influential EU states, it is inconceivable that the whole labeling procedure could ever have been decided upon without considerable backing from Germany. As early as June 2013, Israeli Army Radio cited an official German government document in which the German government stated its stance on the issue for the first time. The document was issued in response to queries by German opposition members. “In our view,” the document states, “products should be labeled ‘Made in Israel’ only if they are manufactured within the [pre-]1967 borders.”

So much for Germany opposing labeling Israeli goods.

Germany is supposed to be one of Israel’s best friends in the EU, which should be telling Israel something. While Hungary and Greece have announced that they will not label Israeli goods, for Israel to rely on the goodwill of European nations is foolhardy and misguided. Even if Israel were to convince more countries to abstain from the labeling, there are no guarantees that these countries will not succumb to internal European pressure, once the EU Commission announces more forcefully that it expects member states to follow the labeling procedures and that it will sanction those EU states who do not.

This is why Israel should not only be pursuing the diplomatic track, but use the means available for redressing the situation under international law, i.e. filing a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization. According to reports, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked are pushing to sue the European Union and currently exploring the option, while Foreign and Finance Ministry officials object.

The time for Israel to stand up for itself and not just talk came a very long time ago. One way for Israel to assert itself is to show the international community that it is capable of defending itself against the barrage of condemnations that it has been at the receiving end of for decades now. The EU labeling measure is a very concrete and dangerous kind of condemnation, however much the EU wishes to cloak it in “consumer” language.

While the Foreign and Finance Ministry officials are simply displaying an old habit of staying within the safe space of doing nothing out of fear of rocking the boat, this is not the way ahead. This strategy never worked in the past and it will not work now either. Proactive and forceful assertion of Israel’s rights wherever they are being crushed is the only strategy that will work. The EU labeling issue presents an excellent opportunity to put this to the test.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • ted weiss

    and i thought we are safe and can always count on Germany for support . Apparently I was wrong

  • Dennis Hulse

    I hope Israel in a reciprocal way insists on labeling from EU countries to specifically show country of origin within the EU and not just the EU as origin. Reciprocal Lawfare challenges to trade agreements should also be a part of the response and reciprocal reaction.
    Dennis Hulse

  • Money makes the world go around, so doing business with Iran is an obvious move by Germany, who was first to visit and other European nations. The USA is not immune from trading with Iran. Israel has no real friends only fair weather friends.

  • Ilbert Phillips

    As I use to say, when I was temporarily stationed in Germany in the early 60’s and when I visited a few years later, “Once a German, always a German.” Most Germans feel they have done their penance as a nation. They can now go after the Jews by mistreating Israel and ignoring the Nazi’s support of the Palestinians during WWII, jointly developing plans to eradicate the Jewish people. They are picking up where Hitler left off.

  • There is also, from the point of view of the German people themselves, something ‘very tasteless’ (so beautifully put)in welcoming millions of muslims into Germany.

  • steven L

    The war of the West against the Jews continues UN-abated.

    • solomon Balas

      Adolph Hitler and Amin Husseini agreed on a desire to exterminate all Jews; they have successors in Merkel and Abbas; Merkel in all but name controls the EU; Abbas a Holocaust denier and Munich perpetrator incites to distance any possibility of peace, confident that the EU sees him as a surrogate who can accomplish Hitler’s plan for Jews Just as FUEV executed the Berlin 1941 plan B blueprint to conquer Europe through economics {Rodney Atkinson-2008)Europe’s antisemitism has returned, with the left and Radical Islam trying to infect America. One small difference between then and now; Israel is strong and will defend Jews so that never again will we go as sheep to slaughter

  • The San Remo Conference of 1920, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration as international treaty and law; reconstituted the Jewish National Home in Palestine as international law; thus, they assigned its implementation to the League of Nation with the Mandate for Palestine and the British as trustee to promote Jewish immigration, development of the land and bring about the sovereign Jewish State in all of Palestine. These terms was confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres which terms were incorporated to the Mandate of Palestine.
    The Jewish National Home in all of Palestine was reconstituted to take affect in 1920; with a provision that sovereignty will be reached when they become majority.
    Faisal Weizmann Agreement signed January 3, 1919, stated that The Jewish National Home will be in what is known as Palestine.
    The Inquiry academics accompanied President Wilson to Paris in 1919. For Palestine, they recommended that the dispersed Jewish People settle there and later, rule in Palestine. Initial rule was to be carried out by a trustee for the Jewish People (Great Britain under the Mandate for Palestine).
    American Proposal for Jewish Homeland, January 21, 1919
    An excerpt from the Tentative Report and Recommendations of the Intelligence Section of the American Delegation to the Peace Conference, in accordance with instructions, for the President and the Plenipotentiaries, January 21, 1919*
    26. Palestine
    It is recommended:
    1) That there be established a separate state of Palestine.
    2) That this state be placed under Great Britain as a mandatory of the League of Nations.
    3) That the Jews be invited to return to Palestine and settle there being assured by the Conference of all proper assistance in so doing that may be consistent with the protection of the personal (especially the religious) and the property rights of the non-Jewish population, and being further assured that it will be the policy of the League of Nations to recognize Palestine as a Jewish state as soon as it is a Jewish state in fact.
    4) That the holy places and religious rights of all creeds in Palestine are placed under the protection of the League of Nations and it’s mandatory.
    For discussion:
    1) It is recommended that there be established a separate state of Palestine.
    The separation of the Palestinian area from Syria finds justification in the religious experience of mankind. The Jewish and Christian churches were born in Palestine, and Jerusalem was for long years, at different periods, the capital of each. And while the relation of the Mohammedans to Palestine is not so intimate, from the beginning they have regarded Jerusalem as a holy place. Only by establishing Palestine as a separate state can justice be done to these great facts.
    As drawn upon the map, the new state would control its own source of water power and irrigation, on Mount Hermon in the east to the Jordan; a feature of great importance since the success of the new state would depend upon the possibilities of agricultural development.
    2) It is recommended that this state be placed under Great Britain as a mandatory of the League of Nations.
    Palestine would obviously need wise and firm guidance. Its population is without political experience, is racially composite, and could easily become distracted by fanaticism and bitter religious differences.
    The success of Great Britain in dealing with similar situations, her relation to Egypt, and her administrative achievements since General Allenby freed Palestine from the Turk; all indicate her as the logical mandatory.
    3) It is recommended that the Jews be invited to return to Palestine and settle there, being assured by the Conference of all proper assistance in so doing that may be consistent with the protection of the personal (especially the religious) and the property rights of the non-Jewish population, and being further assured that it will be the policy of the League of Nations to recognize Palestine as a Jewish state as soon as it is a Jewish state in fact.
    It is right that Palestine should become a Jewish state, if the Jews, being given the full opportunity, make it such. It was the cradle and home of their vital race, which has made large spiritual contributions to mankind, and is the only land in which they can hope to find a home of their own; they being in this last respect unique among significant peoples.
    At present, however, the Jews form barely a tenth of the total population of 550,000 in Palestine, and whether they are to form a majority, or even a plurality, of the population in the future state remains uncertain. Palestine, in short, is far from being a Jewish country now. England, as mandatory, can be relied on to give the Jews the privileged position they should have without sacrificing the rights of non-Jews.
    4) It is recommended that the holy places and religious rights of all creeds in Palestine be placed under the protection of the League of Nations and it’s mandatory.
    The basis for this recommendation is self-evident.

    • solomon Balas

      What more Damning evidence of the British for betrayal of trust as mandated and the responsibility for 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust less than 10 years after Lord Peel’s commission which blocked the way for their return to the homeland

  • Saba

    If anything, Israel asserting herself is not part of the plan in the Israeli government and within the global community. Israel is fearful of what the Goyim might say just to be perfectly honest. It has always had this fear if we speak out in anyway we would pay the consequences in some way. This fear of the nations must go and we must speak out and become voices to those who can not speak for themselves. We are a nation that is thousands of years old with a rich history. If we don’t speak out who will speak for us?

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