Skip to main content

Israel gives settlement products to US as Christmas gifts

Israel's ambassador to Washington accuses EU of promoting 'a new anti-Semitism' by supporting clear labelling of settlement goods
The ambassador's gifts, including wine and olive oil, were all produced in settlements in occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights (Twitter)

US President Barack Obama is to receive a politically-charged hamper of Christmas gifts from the Israeli ambassador to Washington this year, all of them produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

The gift sets include olive oil, wine, body cream and halva, the Israeli embassy told the Huffington Post on Wednesday.

Tel Aviv’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, on Monday posted a picture on Twitter of gift boxes emblazoned with the national emblem, saying he wants the gifts to combat the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign.

The international BDS campaign aims to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by targeting Israel’s economy.

In a letter accompanying the sets, Dermer wrote that he had decided “to send a gift that would also help combat the latest effort by Israel’s enemies to destroy the one and only Jewish state”.

The letter specifically references the EU’s decision last month to label goods originating in the occupied territories differently from those produced in the rest of Israel.

The decision was branded “unacceptable” by Israeli officials, who claimed the country was being “singled out” for punishment.

The same message was echoed by Dermer’s letter, which accuses the EU of singling out “Jewish-made products” and holding “the Jewish state…to a different standard than other countries”.

All the gifts included in the embassy’s hamper originate from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The settlements are illegal under international law.

The embassy’s letter describes those behind the EU labelling move as “fools” who “naively believe that in promoting BDS they are advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians”.

The letter also accuses the EU, as well as the “fanatics” behind the BDS campaign, of “promoting a new anti-Semitism”.

The US opposes the international boycott movement against Israel, but earlier this year the White House signalled a policy shift when it criticised politicians for attempting to pressure the EU over its labelling policy.

The White House has not responded to questioning as to whether it has been sent this year's gifts from the Israeli ambassador, although it regularly receives presents from various foreign embassies and dignitaries.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.