30 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

The United States embassy in Tel Aviv accidentally sent out bottles of wine made in Judea and Samaria as part of an annual holiday gift package to a number of Israeli organizations, including leftist groups, Reuters reported on Monday.

The move was at odds with the State Department’s well-known position on Jewish communities in the West Bank, which it considers the main “obstacle to peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. The US views Jewish “settlements” as illegitimate.

The embassy quickly put out a statement denying that the Rosh Hashana gift signaled a shift in the US’s stance on the issue.

“This should in no way be interpreted as a change of our policy on settlements, which is long-standing and clear,” said an embassy official.

The gift baskets had been purchased from an independent vendor, said the embassy. Embassy officials had not checked the contents of the baskets before distributing them to their recipients.

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Among those recipients was Peace Now, an extremely left-wing NGO which advocates for a two-state solution and is virulently against Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, which it refers to as the “Occupied Territories.”

“I’m sure it was an honest mistake,” said a Peace Now member after receiving the gift.

A bottle of Shiraz Cabernet savignion from the Zion Winery. (Zion Winery)

A bottle of Shiraz Cabernet sauvignon from the Zion Winery.

Products made in the biblical heartland have caused their share of controversy. Many companies located in Judea and Samaria have been targeted by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and last year the European Union moved to label all “settlement”-made products in what Israeli officials lambasted as a “discriminatory” policy.

The wine in the Rosh Hashana basket was produced by the Zion Winery, located in Mishor Adumim, a city east of Jerusalem in Judea. According to a recipient, it was a kosher cabernet sauvignon.

Last December, products made in Judea and Samaria were also sent as diplomatic holiday gifts, albeit very purposefully. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, distributed gift boxes packed with products from Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights in a pointed political statement against BDS.