Last Friday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ruled that Psâgot Winery can keep the “Product of Israel” label on its wines, so long as Psâgot adds clarifying information indicating that the wines at issue are produced in an area of the West Bank administered by the State of Israel.
The CFIA’s ruling is markedly different from the widely criticized 2019 decision issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union on Psâgot labels, which banned the “Product of Israel” designation.
This decision follows a lengthy battle in the Canadian federal courts, which began when a political “activist” brought a case arguing it was “unreasonable” for the CFIA to allow goods made by Jewish-owned businesses in Judea and Samaria to be labeled as products of Israel. After The Lawfare Project and its partner firm, RE-LAW LLP, were successful in a motion to add Psâgot as a respondent in the lawsuit, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal heard the case and rejected the lower court’s prohibition on the “Product of Israel” label in 2021. The matter was then sent back to the CFIA for reconsideration in accordance with the Court of Appeal’s decision.
“We are pleased that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has permitted our client to keep the ‘Product of Israel’ label on its wines along with clarifying information, rather than following the utterly misguided European decision to ban the ‘Israel’ label altogether,” said David Elmaleh, a partner at RE-LAW LLP. “Psâgot Winery will have no trouble adding context to its labels.”
“The Lawfare Project and our international legal team are examining this decision closely and look forward to incorporating additional context to ensure that Israeli businesses operating in the West Bank continue to proudly and prominently display their ‘Product of Israel’ labels,” said Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project. “Indeed, the CFIA’s ruling appears to leave open the possibility that Psâgot products can be labeled as ‘Product of Israel: Made in the Indigenous Jewish homeland in the Israeli-administered West Bank,’ or ‘Product of Israel: Made in the Shomron on land administered by the State of Israel.’”
“While the CFIA’s decision is not perfectly reasoned, the result puts Canada in line with almost all the nations of the world, which allow the ‘Product of Israel’ label for such goods,” said Professor Eugene Kontorovich, who was engaged by The Lawfare Project to submit an expert statement on behalf of Psâgot. “The CFIA categorically rejected the European Union’s unique and disparaging labeling requirements, showing that the EU’s influence is less than they imagine.”
Goldstein added, “The specific wines at issue are undeniably products of Israel. These are products made in territory controlled, administered, governed, and secured by the State of Israel. Psâgot’s wines are made by an Israeli company subject to Israeli domestic law, Israeli taxation law, and Israeli customs law, in an Israeli community, on land indigenous to Jews.”