WASHINGTON — This year’s holiday gifts from the Israeli embassy come with a politically charged message: the occupied Palestinian provinces are part of Israel.
Israel’s diplomat to the U.S ., Ron Dermer, tweeted on Monday that all of the presents he is sending this vacation season will be products produced in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights. The gifts will include wine, olive oil, body cream, and halva, the Israeli embassy told The Huffington Post.
In a letter to gift recipients, Dermer described his decision as an attempt to “combat the latest effort by Israel’s enemies to destroy the one and only Jewish country, ” specifically referencing the recent European Union decision to label goods originating in the occupied Palestinian provinces to distinguish them from products induced within Israel’s 1967 borders.
Dermer accused the EU of supporting the broader Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which targets all of Israel , not only the occupied territories. The BDS movement, wrote Dermer, is led by “fanatics who actively seek to eliminate Israel” and promote “a new anti-Semitism.”
“Unfortunately, they are occasionally joined by fools who naively believe that in promoting BDS, they are advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians, ” Dermer added, referring to the EU.
This year I decided to send a gift for the holiday that would also assist combat BDS pic.twitter.com/ 43 haadtzvm
— Amb. Ron Dermer (@ AmbDermer) December 21, 2015
The EU rejects the suggestion that anti-Semitism or a desire to harm Israel motivated its decision to label goods produced in Israeli settlements. The politico-economic union already necessitated member states to label the origin of some food products. “’Made in Israel’ used for the products coming from Israeli settlements would mislead the consumer and therefore is inconsistent with existing EU legislation, ” a European Union factsheet explained at the time of the decision in November.
Israeli officials challenged the EU’s logic, pointing to other land disputes in which it has not applied labeling guidelines on disputed territories. “Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled, ” Dermer wrote in his vacation letter.
Dermer’s aggressive defense of settlement products is a direct reprimand to the White House, which earlier this year, rejected an amendment to a trade bill from Congress, which instructed the administration to pressure the EU against differentiating between Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories” during ongoing free trade negotiations.
The Obama administration opposes the broader BDS movement against Israel, but it argued in June that “conflating Israel and’ Israel-controlled territories’” ran counter to longstanding, bipartisan opposition to Israeli settlement activity. President obama signed the trade bill into statute, but indicated it would not enforce the amendment related to Israeli settlement goods.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on whether they’d received a holiday present from the Israeli embassy.
Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com