Today (16 June 2022), The Lawfare Project and Professor Eugene Kontorovich — with the assistance of Toronto-based law firm RE-LAW LLP — filed a formal complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to challenge the “Made in Palestine” labels on olive oils sold throughout Canada. The complaint argues that these labels are false and misleading, in violation of Canadian labelling law and a recent CFIA decision regarding Israeli products, because Canada does not recognize “Palestine” as a country. The filing was first covered by the National Post.
In May 2022, the CFIA ruled that wines produced by Israeli winery Psagot could keep their “Made in Israel” labels. Canada recognizes Israel as the administering power where Psagot is located — in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") — but does not recognize Israeli sovereignty there. The CFIA said the “Made in Israel” labels with clarifying information are not false or misleading.
The inaccuracy of “Made in Palestine” labels, however, cannot similarly be corrected by adding clarifying information. Goods cannot be produced in a country that does not exist. That is, even if the “Made in Palestine” labels were supplemented with language stating, e.g., that the goods were “produced in an area administered by the Palestinian Authority,” this description would still be false and misleading because the Canadian government does not recognize a “State of Palestine” in the first place. Indeed, in a formal submission to the International Criminal Court in 2020, the government stressed “Canada’s long-standing position that it does not recognize a Palestinian state.”
Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director and Founder of The Lawfare Project, said the following:
“In a democracy, the law applies equally. Product labelling rules cannot be applied differently with respect to Jewish-made products versus Arab-made products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has made clear that Canadian regulations require labels to be accurate. Canada does not recognize any country called ‘Palestine,’ so labelling products as ‘Made in Palestine’ is grossly inaccurate. Therefore, we are requesting that products made in territories administered by the Palestine Authority be labelled as such.”
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, explained:
“The CFIA has said Israeli wines from the area can be labelled ‘Made in Israel’ with additional clarifying information — but nothing can keep a ‘Made in Palestine’ label from being misleading because there simply is no such country, as the Canadian government has repeatedly affirmed. If the CFIA truly cares about accurate labelling, and not merely anti-Israel activism, it must immediately remove the labels from these olive oils.”
David Elmaleh, a partner at RE-LAW LLP, added:
“These ‘Made in Palestine’ labels falsely imply that Palestine is a recognized country, which it is not. We say that the labels are false, and our client is simply insisting that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigate and affirm this undeniable fact.”
The Lawfare Project is the foremost organization in the world dedicated to enforcing and protecting the civil and human rights of the Jewish people via impact litigation.