Washington DC, February 8th, 2016 – ECI visited the US capital last week in an effort to help American legislators understand the background of the new EU labelling guidelines regarding Israeli products and prevent the US administration from implementing similar directives.
On Friday, ECI Director Tomas Sandell and ECI US Representative, Faith Collins Childress met with senior staff of the US Congress to brief them about the EU labelling guidelines and the opposition to such initiative in Europe by many leaders and organisations like ECI.
“When influential European leaders such as the President of the European Parliament and the Speaker of the Bundestag in Germany are openly opposed to the labelling guidelines, these directives lack moral legitimacy,” Sandell said.
In the discussion on Capitol Hill, ECI pointed out the obvious inconsistency about the EU labelling guidelines in the fact that the decision was passed by the Foreign Affairs Council although the guidelines deal specifically with Consumer Protection issues and not Foreign Affairs policy. ECI also pointed out that the labelling directive was opposed in the EU Council of Ministers by several EU Member States, among them Greece, Hungary and Poland.
“As European citizens we have a responsibility to react when our leaders pass vicious legislation which affects other nations,” Sandell said. “As the BDS movement is gaining ground globally, so do we who stand with Israel,” Sandell said, explaining the reason for his visit to the US, where he met with pro-Israel groups on Capitol Hill to discuss the current situation and seek cooperation.
ECI had the opportunity to attend the 64th National Prayer Breakfast, an annual bipartisan event hosted by the President of the United States, which took place on Thursday 4th February and where legislators from around 100 countries participated. This year’s National Prayer Breakfast was the last prayer breakfast for the outgoing President Barack Obama who will step down next year.
Although the Obama administration had originally opposed the discriminatory EU labelling guidelines regarding Israeli products, last week the administration unexpectedly announced that it will implement old legislation from 1975, which calls for separate labelling of Israeli products from disputed territories, a very similar legislation to the EU labelling directive.
At the same time, several State legislatures have passed laws that prohibit their state from purchasing services from companies which engage in boycott activities. Additionally, a resolution is currently being prepared in the US Congress in protest at the EU directive.
Two months ago European Coalition for Israel representatives from over twenty EU-member states contacted their Foreign Ministries to protest the EU labelling directive which will be implemented by the EU member state governments in the coming months and years. The US trip was part of the same ECI campaign to counter this type of BDS activity and seek more Transatlantic cooperation in support for Israel in order to combat the dangerous levels of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment in both Europe and America.