The diplomatic faux pas is indicative of just how impossible it is to distinguish between Israel and its illegal settlements these days.
Human rights organizations in Israel were in for a surprise on Monday when they opened Rosh Hashanah gift baskets sent by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Among the various goodies delivered in honor of the upcoming Jewish New Year — such as chocolates and honey — was a bottle of wine produced in the occupied West Bank.
A broad range of organizations including Peace Now, B’Tselem, and Yesh Din which focus on Palestinian rights and settlement expansion in the occupied territories, were among those to receive the gift basket.
The wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon named “Dolev,” is produced by the Zion Winery located in the West Bank settlement Mishor Adumim. The winery’s website provides a terse historical description, omitting any mention of the fact that it operates out of occupied territory:
The Israeli wine industry is made up of six large wineries — Carmel, Barkan, Golan Heights, Teperberg 1870, Binyamina and Tishbi — and dozens of medium and small wineries, totaling over 150 wineries, and about 12,000 acres of vineyards, according to settlement watchdog Who Profits.
While the wine industry is known for providing information about the origin of grapes that are used in the production of wine, there are several methods to conceal information concerning grapes from settlement vineyards in occupied territory. Investigating the connections of the Israeli wine industry to settler vineyards, Who Profits found that while grapes from the Golan Heights are used quite openly, the wineries that use grapes from West Bank vineyards most often use a myriad of methods to conceal their origins.
Settlement goods, including wines, have been the target of boycotts both inside and outside Israel over the past several years. Vinters in the West Bank have reported an increasingly difficult time selling their products as a result of the growing movement to boycott Israeli products, which was bolstered late last year after the European Union passed a set of guidelines to accurately label the origins of Israeli goods produced beyond the Green Line. EU member states are now able to determine which punishments to enforce on anyone who does not abide by the regulations (the regulations require states to levy sanctions against those who violate them).
The embassy’s decision to include settlement wine in holiday gift baskets is even more curious when considering the U.S.’s position vis-a-vis settlement goods. Every single U.S administration...Read More