Category Archives: Press Releases

Lawyers Warn Of “Pandora’s Box Of Unintended Consequences” After Advocate General Gives Opinion In European Court Of Justice Labeling Case

"If adopted, the Advocate General’s reasoning opens the floodgates to harmful litigation against EU companies, for it allows consumers to argue that any ethical consideration regarding any country of origin is relevant to product labeling laws. A CJEU ruling that politicized labeling must be applied to goods coming from territories involved in legal disputes will be a commercial disaster," says The Lawfare Project after Advocate General gives opinion in European Court of Justice labeling case

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project today reacted to the advisory opinion given by the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice in a landmark case regarding the discriminatory labeling of Israeli products. The case was referred to the European Court by the French Conseil d’État, having been brought by Psâgot Winery Ltd, an Israeli wine producer and exporter, together with The Lawfare Project, a civil-rights group and litigation fund that files cases against anti-Semitic discrimination around the world.

The case challenged an opinion published by the French Minister of Economics and Finance in November 2016, which stated that products from the Golan Heights or West Bank have to be labeled as coming from Israeli settlements (“colonies Israéliennes”) or equivalent terms.

In giving his advisory opinion, Advocate General Gerard Hogan endorsed the derogatory labeling for Israeli products, which many have criticized as not only a double standard against Israel but as entirely irrelevant to consumer choice and protection. In fact, polling has shown that consumer choice is unaffected by whether a product is labeled as coming from Israel or an “Israeli colony.”

According to the Advocate General’s opinion, EU law requires that products coming from territories under Israel’s control since 1967 are specifically labeled as coming from an “Israeli colony.”  Throughout his opinion, the Advocate General references the needs of consumers and what consumers might well want, as though those two things are the same and interchangeable. The Advocate General’s conclusion is predicated on the notion that any ethical consideration regarding a country of origin that may be relevant to a consumer must be relevant for labeling laws.

It is important to note that the Advocate General’s opinion is non-binding. The opinion of the European of Court of Justice will be decided by a Grand Chamber of 15 judges who will reach their decision at a later date, likely to be later this year. If the court’s decision corresponds with the Advocate General’s opinion, lawyers warn, then regardless of its consequences on the labeling of Israeli products, it could open the floodgates for litigation against EU companies involving the labeling of any and all goods imported into the EU.

The Advocate General argues in paragraph 51 of his opinion that consumers may object to “the purchase of goods from a particular country because, for example, it is not a democracy or because it pursues particular political or social policies which that consumer happens to find objectionable or even repugnant.” Yet if EU law was to be interpreted as requiring that all perceived violations of international law must be addressed by product labeling, it would be a vastly complex commercial disaster.

Lawyers acting for Psâgot and The Lawfare Project expressed concerns following the publication of the Advocate General’s opinion.

“If the court was to reach the same conclusion as the Advocate General it risks opening up a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences,” said François-Henri Briard, Attorney before the French Supreme Court and counsel for Psâgot. “EU rules are there to provide fair and relevant information to consumers, not to cater to political or religious prejudices. If such labeling is applied to Israeli products, surely it will also need to be applied to scores of other countries around the world who could be argued to be in violation of international law.”

Brooke Goldstein, the Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, said:

“The Advocate General’s opinion is non-binding. That means the European Court of Justice still has a historic opportunity to end this double standard against Israel. It is a flagrant act of discrimination that, despite hundreds of territorial disputes around the world, it is only Israeli businesses—and EU businesses working with them—that find themselves targeted by these unnecessary and politicized labeling requirements.

Further, we are deeply offended that products originating in the same territory would be subject to different labeling requirements depending on the nationality of those who produced them. This is the definition of discrimination and the Advocate General’s opinion seems to be endorsing a racist double standard.”

Pondering additional unintended consequences should the Court adopt a similar opinion to the Advocate General, Goldstein added:

“The Court cannot mandate that product labels become political billboards without the decision having dire precedential consequences that have not been thought through. Even if it was the intention of the legislator to have labels applied for violations of international law, the question remains as to why we only have such labels on products exported by Israel. If the politicization of labeling is indeed adopted as EU law, it will not be long until we see a myriad of lawsuits filed against EU businesses demanding that goods from China be labeled ‘products of human rights abuses,’ goods from Iran be labeled ‘products of women’s rights abuses,’ and goods from the Unites States be labeled ‘products of a country that institutes capital punishment.’ What will the labels say on products from Crimea? The consequences of such a precedent would be absurd.

Moreover, boycotts of Israel are unlawful under U.S. law. We will be looking into whether this discriminatory labeling constitutes a de facto boycott, as already warned by members of Congress at the time such labels were first adopted. If it does, this could have major consequences on the trading relationship between American businesses and the European Union, and have an enormously harmful effect on EU companies that avail themselves of the American market. There is no doubt that a decision in favor of politicized labeling will increase the costs associated with doing business in the EU, and will expose EU companies and importers to enormous liability, as well as demands from all sorts of groups based on ‘ethical considerations’ absent any checks and balances. In short, it will be a commercial disaster.”

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About The Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit www.thelawfareproject.org.

The Lawfare Project Announces New Case Against Kuwait Airways In Germany

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project has announced that it has filed a new case against Kuwait Airways in Germany, over the airline’s policy of antisemitic discrimination on its flights. The case is being brought by a Frankfurt based Israeli businessman who booked a flight from Munich to Sri Lanka in November last year, only to be denied the right to travel.

This is the second case in which The Lawfare Project has represented Israelis barred from traveling in Germany by Kuwait Airways. A previous case originally brought in 2017 involving the same discriminatory policy triggered outcry in Germany and remains under review by Germany’s Constitutional High Court.

The plaintiff in the new case, known as Shmuel M, booked business class tickets from Munich to Colombo, which was the quickest flight to Sri Lanka available from that airport. When Shmuel M asked about the availability of kosher food on the flight, the airline asked whether he held an Israeli passport. When he confirmed that he did, he was told that he would be unable to travel and would need to speak to the airline’s lawyers for further information.

As a result, Shmuel M is suing Kuwait Airways with The Lawfare Project providing his legal representation. The case has been filed at the Landshut District Court, which has jurisdiction over Munich International Airport. Kuwait Airways is yet to reply to the claims writ. It is likely that a hearing will take place later this year.

Kuwait Airways has previously justified its discrimination by citing a decades-old Kuwaiti law that bans all Kuwaiti citizens and companies from doing any business with citizens of the Jewish state.

On past occasions, legal pressure from The Lawfare Project against Kuwait Airways in the U.S. and Switzerland led to the airline canceling its NYC-London flights, and all its inter-European flights, rather than compromise its discriminatory practices.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, the legal think tank and litigation fund representing the plaintiff, said:

“Time and again Kuwait Airways has shown itself to be a bigoted airline with a bigoted policy that should have no place in a modern liberal democracy. An airline that kicks Israelis off planes should be kicked out of Germany.

When a Jewish passenger is denied the right to travel after requesting a kosher meal, in Germany of all places, then anyone who respects the values of equality, fairness, and the rule of law should be appalled.”

Nathan Gelbart, The Lawfare Project’s German counsel, said:

“If Kuwait Airways wishes to continue operating in Germany then the message should be clear: carry everyone or carry no one. There can be no discrimination against Jews on German soil. As long as we permit an airline to advertise flights for everyone except Israelis it is a stain on the moral fabric of our country.”

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About The Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit www.thelawfareproject.org.

Hearing Takes Place At European Court Of Justice In Landmark Case Against Discriminatory Labeling Of Israeli Products

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

A hearing took place yesterday at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in a landmark case against the discriminatory labeling of Israeli products. The case was referred to the ECJ by the French Conseil d’État. It was brought by Psâgot Winery Ltd, an Israeli wine producer and exporter, together with The Lawfare Project, a U.S.-based think tank and litigation fund that files cases against anti-Semitic discrimination around the world.

Psâgot and The Lawfare Project, represented by French Supreme Court law firm Cabinet Briard, challenged an opinion published by the French Minister of Economics and Finance in November 2016. The Minister’s opinion stated that products from the Golan Heights or West Bank have to be labeled as coming from Israeli settlements (“colonies Israéliennes”) or equivalent terms.

At yesterday’s hearing, counsel for Psâgot—François-Henri Briard, Supreme Court Attorney of France—strongly argued that the insistence on applying the label of “colonies Israéliennes” goes beyond the law. The law was not designed for such political labeling but to provide fair and clear information for consumers. Polling carried out last year among French consumers revealed that they had very little interest in the politicized labeling of products.

Furthermore, argued Briard, applying the law in such a way would open a “Pandora’s Box,” requiring extremely complex labeling for products from over 100 different territories around the world where there are territorial disputes.

The three-hour hearing was presided over by President of the European Court, Koen Lenaerts, who also heard from representatives of Sweden, Ireland, and France. These three countries’ governments argued strongly in favor of discriminatory labeling, falsely implying that Israel does not exercise authority over these territories in the context of trade.

The ECJ Advocate General will publish his opinion on June 14, 2019. A decision from the Court is expected a few weeks after that, which would interpret EU law on the issue for all EU member states, including France, which referred the case. As a result, the Court’s decision will have landmark implications across the EU regarding the discriminatory labeling of Israeli products.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, said:

Of the hundreds of territorial disputes around the world, it is Israeli businesses alone that find themselves targeted by these unnecessary and politicized labeling requirements. The importance of the Court’s decision shouldn’t be overstated: it will either end this double standard against Israel or legitimize it across Europe. I hope the Court grasps this opportunity to end the double standard.

François-Henri Briard, attorney before the French Supreme Courts and counsel for Psâgot, said:

I am confident that the ECJ will be very careful to keep its interpretation of EU law within a legal framework, without making foreign policy. The purpose of the EU rules is to protect health for consumers and to provide fair information on food products; they have nothing to do with political geography. The attempts of the European Commission to justify the use of the word “colony,” using an argument based on social and ethical consumer information, goes beyond EU text and looks like an awkward legal framework; I do not think the ECJ will follow such poor and political argument.

About The Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit www.thelawfareproject.org.

Belgium’s Constitutional Court Refers Appeal Against Kosher Slaughter Ban For Additional Review By European Court Of Justice, CCOJB And The Lawfare Project To Continue Legal Fight

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

Belgium’s Constitutional Court ruled today that it needed to suspend the legal process in order to check the legality of the bans on religious slaughter passed in 2017 by the parliaments of Flanders and Wallonia. Following the passing of the discriminatory legislation, the Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB) filed a lawsuit against the ban with support from The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation fund that files legal cases against anti-Jewish discrimination around the world.

The Court decided that it needs to check whether the bans on religious slaughter are compatible with European law. European legislation allows for religious slaughter as an exception to the rule of prior stunning, provided that religious slaughter is operated in an approved slaughterhouse.

The CCOJB and The Lawfare Project maintain that, while the ban was implemented with the stated purpose of animal welfare, that argument is flawed because animal welfare has always been central to the laws of kosher practice.

“We have been involved in this case since the start,” said Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project. “We will continue to work to ensure kosher slaughter is not banned.”

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About The Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit www.thelawfareproject.org.

Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting With Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino: ‎

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense Didier Reynders today in Washington. January marked the start of Belgium’s sixth term on the UN Security Council, and the two discussed critical areas for global security cooperation, including burden sharing, next steps on the political process in Venezuela, threats posed by China and Iran, and Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty.

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