Pompeo wine by Psagot Winery
Pompeo wine by Psagot WineryHezki Baruch

Victory for the Psagot Winery. Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has quashed a lower ruling that had barred products from Judea and Samaria from being labelled “Product of Israel”, according to a statement released on Wednesday by B’nai Brith Canada.

The ruling came following an appeal by the Psagot winery regarding labeling of products.

In 2019, a Canadian court ruled that it was "false, misleading and deceptive" to label wines made in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as a "Product of Israel."

Canada's Federal Court had been asked to rule in the case of David Kattenburg, the child of Holocaust survivors who disagreed with a decision by the Canadian government's Food Inspection Agency to allow the labels.

Kattenburg, who criticized Israel's policies, argued that such labeling "facilitates Israel's de facto annexation of large portions of the West Bank," according to the court ruling.

In July of 2020, the Federal Court had ruled that it was “false, misleading or deceptive” for wines produced by Israeli winemakers located in Judea of Samaria to be labelled “Product of Israel.”

Parts of the decision had also lent support to boycotts of Jewish communities, suggesting that the “Product of Israel” obstructed consumers’ right to boycott these communities.

On Thursday, the Honorable Marc Noël, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal, reversed course, ruling that the judge below had gone too far in her decision, and that the federal agency that initially reviewed the labels should be allowed to try again, with all options remaining open.

“To be clear, the Agency is not bound by the Federal Court judge’s reasons,” he wrote, according to B’nai Brith Canada.

Technically speaking, the Government’s appeal from the prior ruling was dismissed, as the procedural outcome of remitting the issue to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) remains in place. In practice, the latest ruling is a major setback for the anti-Israel movement in Canada.

“We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision today, which puts this matter back on track to being resolved fairly and correctly," said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada. "B’nai Brith has engaged with decision-makers on this issue since the very beginning, and will continue to do so as this matter progresses.”

“We say proudly that Jews returning to producing wine in their indigenous homeland is something to be celebrated, not stigmatized,” he added.

Commenting on the judge’s ruling, Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said on Wednesday, “We are not surprised that the Federal Court of Appeal disagreed with the lower court decision and sent the case back to Complaints and Appeals Office (CAO) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In the ruling, the Court clearly stated that the CFIA is ‘not bound by the Federal Court judge’s reasons’ and that the Federal Court Judge ‘should not have embarked on the Agency's Task’ of interpreting the legislation that the CFIA is called upon to apply.”

“We will continue to follow the case and make our own submission to the CAO as it goes through the process of reconsideration and redetermination. CIJA believes that current labelling practices are fully consistent with the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, as well as Canadian and international law,” he added.

“We know this case is part of a broader campaign to boycott Israel and Israeli goods. Until there is a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, wines produced under the authority and regulatory framework of Israel should be labelled accordingly.”

The initial ruling banning the “Product of Israel” labelling was welcomed by Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), who said the ruling was “an affirmation of the supremacy of the law and Canada's obligation to respect international law, which considers settlements illegal and does not recognize them as part of Israel.”