The Politics of Wine

Now, two decades later, a Montreal human rights coalition is hoping to replicate the South Africa campaign‘s success by appealing to oenophiles – and Quebec‘s liquor monopoly – to put the cork on an Israeli producer.
The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP) has chosen the Golan Heights Winery as its first target in an expanding boycott that will focus primarily on Israeli business in the occupied territories.
For CJPP spokesperson Marc Tétrault, the issue is accountability. "The Canadian government has a policy that says these territories are occupied." (The Golan Heights is a piece of land settled and administered by Israel since its capture from Syria in 1967.)
According to Tétrault, the campaign comes as an answer to an appeal made last July by 170 Palestinian and Israeli peace groups, calling for sanctions and divestment as a pressure tactic to end discriminatory practices against Israeli Arabs, and to promote an Israeli withdrawal from Palestine. CJPP works with sister groups in Toronto, the U.K. and Norway, and has circulated a petition that has gathered 5,000 signatures asking the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) to cancel purchases from Golan.
Faced with the issue, and likely controversy, the SAQ‘s attitude so far is wait and see. States press attaché Linda Bouchard: "We‘re a commercial enterprise, not a political one… We‘ll find out what they [the CJPP] have to say."
CJPP campaigners plan to approach the SAQ this week, and when they do so they will convey a sense of urgency. Says Tétrault: "The situation in Palestine is dire… It‘s not a campaign against Israelis, but a campaign calling for the Israeli government to follow human rights."
Visit the CJPP website http://www.cjpp.org for more info.