I’m talking about the decision by some concerned people that labelling food as coming from either Israel or Palestine is simply not good enough if you want to pop down the Co-op for a bit of right-on and discriminatory shopping. Until recently I can imagine these Birkenstock-wearing types were stuffing their faces with anything marked Produce of Palestine in a well-intentioned effort to support the cause of Palestinian self-determination and there’s nothing wrong with that, of course.
Unfortunately, someone has pointed out that Palestine also includes some Zionists who’ve settled illegally in the West Bank. Now imagine how the pious Grauniad readers must feel when they realise those stuffed olives they’ve been scoffing like they were going out of fashion have been picked and packed by Israeli settlers. It must be a bit like being a vegetarian and then finding out you’ve been eating curried poodle when you thought you were having tofu korma. It’s enough to make you choke, I would imagine.
So now the UK Government has suggested that food imported from Palestinian territories should be labelled either Palestinian Produce or Israeli Settlement Produce depending on their origin. This will help the people who feel the need to boycott one side in a dispute that’s happening a couple of thousand miles away. It may also encourage people of the opposite view to discriminate the other way. Still, I suppose anything that extends choice can’t be bad.
Perhaps it would be easier if the produce were even more easily distinguished. How about a lovely cuddly heart logo on one and black skull and crossbones on the other? That would help the socially progressive shopper to get things straight when they’re girding their loins for a spot of boycotting.
The UK Department for the Environment, Regions and Agriculture has said that traders would be committing an offence if they did declare produce from the occupied territories as "Produce of Israel". No doubt we can soon expect to see a clipboard-wielding civil servants from Whitehall marching into the West Bank with a summons for any settlers mislabelling their goods.
I only hope they’ll have flak jackets and an armed guard.