Berlin’s largest department store has pulled several Israeli goods from its shelves following a European Union rule outlawing “Made in Israel” tags on products made in West Bank Jewish settlements or in the Golan Heights.
A spokesperson for KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) clarified, however, that the goods would once again be sold by the store after they are labeled in accordance with the new EU guidelines.
“We have taken the corresponding [Israeli] products out from our line of goods,” KaDeWe spokeswoman Petra Fladenhofer told German newspaper Der Spiegel. “We will, after appropriate labeling, put them back in our product line.”
KaDeWe, established in 1907 by a Jewish businessman, is the largest department store in continental Europe, serving tens of thousands of customers each day. In 1927, KaDeWe was purchased by a Jewish family business enterprise and was later boycotted by the Nazis, who finally seized the store in 1933. The department store reopened after World War II and is currently owned by a Thai company.
The EU rule on the labeling of West Bank and Golan Heights goods has triggered a fierce backlash from the Israeli government as well as opposition leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the 28-nation bloc’s ruling as “hypocritical” and accused the EU of double standards. One of his cabinet members called the rule “disguised anti-Semitism.”
The economic impact of the move, however, is likely to be minimal. While the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner, settlement products account for less than 2 percent of Israel’s 13 billion euro ($14 billion) exports to Europe each year.
Once the ruling is implemented, European consumers will be able to read on the label of most products — including agricultural goods, olive oil, cosmetics and wines — if they were produced in Israeli settlements.
Israel captured the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War. It extended sovereignty to East Jerusalem, and extended Israeli law to the Golan Heights, but did neither in the West Bank.