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South Africa to demand labels on Israeli-made goods

South Africa protest. COURTESY PHOTO

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from GIN

Products made in Israel would be distinguished from those made in the occupied Palestinian territories under a proposal that is drawing charges of anti-Semitism against the trade minister, Rob Davies.

Davis strongly rejected the charges leveled by the Israeli foreign ministry and raised at a press conference this week when he was asked by an Israel TV reporter whether he was an anti-Semite.

The Financial Times quoted an Israeli foreign ministry official as saying the proposal would “stamp, name and shame Israeli products on an uncertain basis” and that “singling out one country and stigmatizing its products is a move with racist characteristics.”

But according to the minister, South Africa was “not unique” in requiring that consumers be given accurate information about the country of origin of products, being in this case either Israel or the occupied territories. South Africa only recognizes the borders of Israel as those prior to 1967 — not including the Palestinian occupied territories — and supports a two-state solution for the conflict.

Davies’ move follows a boycott campaign coordinated by Palestinian and South African groups such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) South Africa, Open Shuhada Street and Lawyers for Human Rights, among others. The groups raised questions about products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank but labeled “made in Israel.”

Meanwhile, in Denmark, Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal stated this week that the country will begin labeling all goods from West Bank settlements, “which are illegal, according to international law.”

Elsewhere in South Africa, the University of KwaZulu-Natal canceled a lecture by Israel’s deputy ambassador, Yaakov Finkelstein, citing negative publicity it would bring the institution. Activists are seeking a full academic boycott, a position endorsed by poet Breyten Breytenbach, Professor John Dugard and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others.

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