January 26, 2020.

Where we stand on two key issues
 
In 2019, Courts in Canada and Europe ruled in favour of labelling products from Israeli settlements so as to distinguish them from goods considered legitimately " Made in Israel. " The Israeli government decried these decisions as discriminatory and supportive of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement. Are BDS and labelling two sides of the same coin? Below we present Canadian Friends of Peace Now's take on the issues.
 
  BDS: A frank discussion
 
The global BDS Movement against Israel has gained traction in recent years. Some people, most notably on the left, trumpet BDS as a non-violent way of supporting the Palestinian cause. Others accuse BDS of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. There's much crying of " foul " on both sides. To gain some perspective, let's look at the stated BDS vision.
 
The official BDS website calls for an end to the " occupation and colonization of all Arab lands " -- a rather open-ended descriptor. The movement also demands the right of return for all Palestinians who were displaced by the wars of 1948 and 1967 (which is interpreted to include their descendants). And it demands full equality for Arab citizens of Israel, arguing that they are subject to severe discrimination. The movement neither endorses a two-state solution nor recognizes the right to a Jewish homeland on any part of historic Palestine. It does not distinguish between opposition to Israel's existence and opposition to the occupation beyond the Green Line.
 
The demand for the return of the refugees and their descendants, if realized, would see Jews become a minority in the land and the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
 
Thus, the movement seeks to negate the United Nations partition vote of 1947 that established the state of Israel. Also, it ignores the 1948 invasion by nine Arab armies and expeditionary forces following Israel's declaration of independence.
 
The BDS approach is to persuade nations, corporations and individuals not to purchase any Israeli products, not to do business with any Israeli businesses or individuals, and not to allow Israeli academics, artists and cultural organizations to visit or work in other countries. Companies with investments in Israel are encouraged to withdraw them.
  
What about limited BDS initiatives?
 
There are BDS initiatives that focus only on activities in the West Bank, beyond the Green Line, for example, boycotts of settlement products. Proponents of these efforts may support a two-state solution and believe their actions can pressure Israel to rethink its occupation. There is merit in distinguishing between democratic Israel and the occupied West Bank. However, settlement boycotts that are not accompanied by a clear defence of Israel's right to exist, are nothing more than an extension of BDS's overall goal of de-legitimizing Israel.
             
Israel's reaction to BDS
 
Israel has fought back by arguing for its right to exist and by passing anti-BDS legislation that allows civil suits against boycotters and the barring of BDS supporters who are not Israeli citizens from entering Israel. It has also encouraged other countries, including the U.S. government and U.S. states, to pass anti-BDS legislation.
 
Where we stand on BDS
 
Canadian Friends of Peace Now, a Zionist organization that supports Israel's right to exist within secure borders, is opposed to both the principle and the practice of BDS. We object to BDS because it draws no distinction between Israel within or outside the Green Line and implicitly denies Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. We believe BDS has been counter-productive, in that it has hardened Israel's resistance to compromise. The result of sanctioning all of Israel has been to create a " circle the wagons " attitude in Israel, strengthening Prime Minister Netanyahu and the settler movement.
 
Canadian Friends of Peace Now sharply criticizes Israeli policies that have expanded settlements, permitted the degradation of Palestinian communities, uprooted Palestinians from their homes, and entrenched the occupation over a disenfranchised people. We believe that a two-state solution is the only realistic means of accommodating the legitimate rights of both Palestinians and Israelis. We believe both peoples need to compromise on their maximalist demands.
 
Is anti-boycott legislation legitimate?
 
While Canadian Friends of Peace Now opposes BDS, we do not wish to see Canada legislate against it. We respect the right of people to disagree with us. Free speech is an essential component of a democracy. Legislation forbidding those who choose to boycott is undemocratic and would cede moral high ground to the BDS movement.
 
What about labelling of settlement products?
  
Canadian labelling
 
In July 2019, Canada ' s Federal Court ruled that wines produced by Israelis in the West Bank can no longer be labelled as " Made in Israel. " The Court determined that labels describing wines made in the settlements as Israeli products are " false, misleading and deceptive. " The judge noted that settlements are not considered part of the State of Israel, as Canada does not recognize Israeli sovereignty beyond the pre-1967 borders. Canadian Friends of Peace Now and Peace Now in Israel welcomed the Federal Court decision. Our statement said:
 
"Not even Israel recognizes the West Bank, which remains under occupation subject to a final status agreement, as part of its sovereign territory. The Canadian court decision is a reflection of this reality, which is as it should be."
 
The Government of Canada has decided to appeal the lower court decision before the Federal Court of Appeal.

EU labelling
 
Since 2015, the European Union (EU) and, a few EU countries, have instituted a policy of labelling settlement products so that individuals and organizations can decide for themselves whether or not to purchase them. The EU made clear that its labelling policy does not constitute a boycott of Israel, which the EU strongly opposes. The labelling initiative draws the important distinction between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories, by re-asserting the Green Line. French guidelines on labelling settlement products were challenged before the European Court of Justice. The EU's top court recently ruled to uphold the labelling policy.
 
Not surprisingly, the Israeli government decries EU labelling policy as discriminatory because it is alleged that the EU applies double standard for singling out Israel, yet turning a blind eye to other territorial disputes around the world. Though some Israel supporters may not object to labelling in theory, they perceive it as the slippery slope towards full-fledged BDS. However, it is noteworthy that the EU labelling regime is being implemented with the cooperation of the State of Israel, despite its political opposition to this practice.
 
Following pressure from several EU states, the EU  approved  a traceability mechanism to identify products exported from occupied  Western Sahara in 2019. However, the mechanism is not as transparent as the labelling of Israeli products.
 
US labelling
 
In 2016, the US state department, under the Obama presidency, came out in support of the EU labelling guidelines, and said that settlement product labelling is not tantamount to a boycott. At the same time, the US government issued a reminder of its existing laws instructing US importers that products made in the occupied territories " shall be marked as ' West Bank, ' ' Gaza, ' or ' Gaza Strip '... and shall not contain the word ' Israel ' . "  In contrast to the EU, the US does not distinguish products between Israeli producers and Palestinian producers in the West bank. The US law states that " it is not acceptable to mark the aforementioned goods with the words ' Israel, ' ' Made in Israel, ' ' Occupied Territories-Israel ' or any variation thereof.
 
Our position on labelling
 
CFPN considers labelling of settlement products reasonable and just and not to be conflated with the boycott movement.
 
Labelling does give consumers a choice. They can decline settlement products (and perhaps increase their purchases of genuine " made in Israel " articles); they can ignore the labels; or they can support the settlers by stocking up on items they produce.
 
However, we also believe that the principle of accurate labelling should be applied to goods sold in Canada from any other territory in the world deemed occupied under international law. Otherwise the policy would be inconsistent and discriminatory against Israel.