The Judean Regional Council has successfully applied for and obtained an Appellation of Origin for wines grown in the region under the name Yehuda (– Judea). In a separate event that is perhaps related, the Psagot Winery which is situated in the Judean hills and in historic Judea but is outside of the Judean Regional Council and its appellation, challenged the French court regarding labeling wines from the West Bank. The French Court deferred to the European Court of Justice which has ruled that produce from the Golan, West Bank and East Jerusalem must be labeled as such.
Israel wines have made massive improvements over the past couples of decades and the Judea region and the Judean hills in the West Bank are covered with vineyards and every Jewish village seems to have at least one winery. Wine tourism is ever more popular, and some areas resemble Tuscany.
In Biblical times, the region was well known for its wines and there are plenty of architectural remains of presses and vats that show that wine was made in the area for thousands of years.
In Jacob’s blessing of his son’s he states: (Genesis 49:10-12 King James Version (KJV)):
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
Professor Yoel Elizur thinks that the term milk is a mistranslation and white wine is intended. That as may be, wine making in the area goes back millenia. Since Moslems do not drink alcohol, over the past thousand years the wine making tradition in the region was largely lost, but was maintained only by a small number of monasteries such as Castel and Latrun.
The borders of the Judean Regional Council follow 1948 cease-fire lines and thus reflect the topography to some extent, but do not map onto today’s wine making area. It is unlikely that wine experts can differentiate between wine made in the Judean Regional Council and wine from the surrounding areas. (This may be true for wines from the Bordeaux and Champagne or for the Napa valley as well).
What I think has happened is that wineries in the region controlled by the Judean Regional Council region are trying to differentiate themselves from West Bank wineries so as not to fall foul of boycotts and European labeling issues.
The bottom of the picture shows coins from the Great Revolt against the Romans. Jews did not put portraits on their coins due to the prohibition of graven images. Instead, clusters of grapes are featured. Coins such as these state the year of Judea, but have been found in areas not within the area for which the appellation of origin was requested.
Indeed, the Psagot Winery uses a stylized coin on their bottles, based on a State of Judea coin found in the area of Psagot.
The Southern part of the West Bank, including Gush Ezion, Efrat, Tekoa, Hebron and Bethlehem are certainly fairly described as being part of Judah’s tribal lands. After all, this is where David was born and where he established his capital after the death of King Saul. They are within the Tribal lands of Judah and were part of the Kingdom of Judah throughout the first Temple.
On the other hand, some of the lower lying land in the area controlled by the Judean Regional Council were held by the Philistines in the time of King David.
Other areas were part of Dan.
Historically the borders of the region known as Judah or Judea have changed throughout the Biblical period, during the time of the Second Temple and during the Bar Kochba rebellion. When Judea was a vassal state of the Babylonian and then the Greek Empire, during full independence under the Hasmonean dynasty and later the Roman Empires, its borders were constantly changing.
After the death of King Solomon, there was a secession of 10 tribes from the Davidic Kingdom and these became known as Israel. Judah and Benjamin remained known as the Kingdom of Judea. The Kingdom of Israel fell to Nebuchadnezer in 720 BCE but the Kingdom of Judah continued as an independent entity for another century.
Cyrus the Great allowed Jews to return to Zion under Ezra and Nechemia who were Jewish Babylonian appointed officials; however Judea remained a Babylonian province.
Later, when the Greeks fought the Babylonians, the area became part of the Greek Empire. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek Empire was divided and Judea was the disputed border state between the Ptolemenian Greek Empire whose center was Egypt, and the Selucid Greeks who ruled from Syria. The Hasmoneans rebelled against Antiochus who ruled from Syria, and eventually the Hasmonean kings managed to gain full independence.
The land included in the Hasmonean State grew over time, as can be seen from the accompanying image taken from Wikipedia. It included most of present day Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the East Bank (trans-Jordan, now part of the Hashemite Kingdom), but not the Negev desert.
Later, the Romans conquered the area and in a series of rebellions against the Romans, Israel gained and lost independence and the Second Temple was destroyed. Then followed the short-lived Great Revolt under Bar Kochba.
The Judea Regional Council controls land in pre-1967 Israel. However, the Judean grape-growing region includes the hills of the West Bank that were captured in the 1967 War.
In fact the West Bank is known by its Jewish residents in particular, and in Israel in general, as Judea and Samaria. However, both these terms historically also included areas that are part of pre-1967 Israel.
The border between Judea and Samaria has also changed at different times. Vineyards north of Jerusalem such as Psagot, Ofra, Anatot, Mishor Adumim consider themselves as being in the Judean Hills and have labeled themselves as such. Shilo, Shvut Rachel, Eli and Rachelim are partly tribal lands of Ephraim and partly tribal lands of Benjamin, but were considered Judea in Second Temple times through to Roman times. Indeed Shilo is mentioned in Jacob’s blessing to Judah. This area is mostly administered by the Benjamin Regional Council.
The Psagot Winery in the Southern Benjamin region was in an area that was held by Davidic Dynasty and can thus fairly be described as being in the Judean hills.
The Psagot Winery challenged the French labeling of their wines as discrimination. The French referred the issue to the European Court of Justice, which has now ruled that all wines originating in the West Bank, the Golan or East Jerusalem and imported into Europe must be labeled as such.
Countering the ruling of the European Court, Michael Pompeo, US Secretary of State, noted that it is far from clear that Israeli villages and towns in the West Bank actually contravene International Law. Here the United States are correct. Historically the United Nations 1947 Partition Plan called for dividing the area of Palestinian Mandate (sans the lion’s share that Churchill made into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) into two states: one for Jews and the other for Arabs. However, this never happened. Jordan invaded and annexed the West Bank and Egypt invaded and controlled Gaza.
Although Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank was not recognized (apart from by Pakistan and Britain) there never was an independent self-governing Arab state of Palestine. This name, taken from the Philistines who ruled the Gaza strip area and Israeli towns such as Ashkelon and Ashdod in early Biblical history, was used by the Romans following the great Revolt to attempt to write Judea out of the history books. The United Nations Partition Plan which was accepted by the Jewish Agency but rejected by the Arab leadership in Palestine and surrounding countries, was never implemented. Modern Israel thus never occupied a Palestinian state but rather captured land that was contested.
The Golan was part of Syria, another state set up following the Sykes-Picot divvying up of parts of the Turkish Empire conquered by the French and the British. Israel annexed the Golan Heights and so, under Israel law, like Jerusalem, it is considered part of Israel which now controls them for longer than Syria or Jordan did respectively. Europe does not recognize the annexation, but the United States does. As Syria is in a state of turmoil following years of civil war, the future of the Golan is not a hot issue. There are remains of ancient synagogues across the Golan, and it is clear that the area was settled by Jews in ancient times.
Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the last independent entity in the Holy Land was the State of Judea that was established in the Great Revolt by Bar Kochba. It was self-governing and minted coins, etc. and lasted for about 4 years before being totally eradicated by the Romans. Of course the Romans did not recognize the State of Judea any more than Israel recognizes the State of Gaza (Hamastan) or the world recognized the Islamic State (ISIS).
The appellation of origin Yehuda defines the modern Judean Regional Council as a distinct grape-growing region. However, there are equally good and interesting wines grown at higher altitudes in parts of Judea (Yehuda) that lie outside the area administered by the Judean Regional Council but which have considered themselves part of Yehuda with a lot of historical evidence to support that claim. I believe the move by the Judean Regional Council is to differentiate themselves from the land that Israel conquered in 1967 and is disputed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. However, many of the wineries on the West Bank can and do fairly define themselves as being in Judea, and have used Judea on their labels.
One way to conform to European labeling requirements will be to recognize the lands captured in 1967 as Judea and Samaria and to recognize the wines grown there as a distinctive type of wine. This has largely happened in the Golan, with the Golan wineries and their alpine altitude and basalt soils.
The caustic limestone terroir and high altitude of the West Bank does make the wines of the area distinctive, and they have been winning gold medals at international competitions.
Thus the West Bank wineries could perhaps also club together and register one or more appellations of origin and thus fulfill European labeling requirements. The problem is that the logical and correct name is Judea, which has now been recognized for the foothills. The Psagot winery is in what was historically Judea during the period from Joshua until Jesus, It is now part of the Benjamin regional council. Perhaps, together with other wineries in the area administered by the Benjamin regional council, they could file an Appelation of Origin. However, Bet El is stuck in the middle of the region and is a separate municipality. Bet Aryeh is neither Benjamin nor Samaria, but is a separate regional council covering two villages. This type of thing happens for local political reasons. Should these areas be able to call themselves Benjamin for wine making purposes?
Binyamina founded in 1922, was named after the Baron Abraham Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild who played a major role in the development of the Israel wine industry. The town is in the Haifa area far from Biblical Benjamin but should its wines be able to label themselves Binyamin or Binyamina? Whether or not something is misleading can be complicated.
In Gaza, the Hamas regime canceled class 33 which covers wines and alcoholic beverages from the trademark register. Meanwhile, much of the West Bank resembles Tuscany. Whilst moslems do not make wine, the presence of Ramallah in the middle of the region controlled by the Benjamin Regional Council may not be a problem to calling wine from the area Binyamin. But as well as growing excellent grapes, the region produces quality olive oil. Both Jewish and Moslem farmers grow olives and make olive oil. Should they both be able to use the same name to refer to the same growing region? Would NOT allowing them to use the same name be discrimination on basis of religion? Note, there is plenty of land in the area conquered and occupied in 1967 that is nevertheless unquestionably privately owned by Jews. There is also, of course, land in pre 1948 Israel that Arabs have title deeds to.
Meanwhile we have a historically absurd situation where part of the tribal lands of Dan, where Samson fought the Philistines, and where David fought Goliath have received the appellation of Judea, and the area from Bethlehem to Hebron which was always the heart of Judea, have not. The Judea appellation of origin registered in Israel is misleading. Since wines not made within the area defined by the registration have been using the name Judea, Judean Hills, Judah, etc. prior to the registration, I believe the registration is in error.
As to the European Court of Justice ruling, in principle, it is reasonable for the origin of goods to be clearly marked so people can decide whether or not to purchase them based on their ideologies, politics and values. However, this should occur in all areas of disputed sovereignty.
If the Arab Israel conflict is singled out, then allegations of anti-Semitism are fair. If West Bank goods originating in Jewish villages are labeled differently from those originating in Arab villages, then goods originated in protest farms in Northern Ireland should be labeled Northern Ireland and not Britain. Olives and capers originating in Turkish and Greek regions of Cyprus should perhaps be clearly labeled. Goods originating in Catalan regions of Spain, in Tibet, in Kurdish areas of Turkey, Syria and Iraq and Iran and Kashmir could be labeled as such. It is unclear that this sort of policy will bring peace on the ground. After 50 years with half a million Jews living in towns and villages across the West Bank and perhaps an equal number in modern suburbs of Jerusalem across the historic green line in land conquered in 1967, the geopolitical reality has changed. That is not to say that the political situation is ideal. It is not. But votes taken in an international forum 70 years ago are no longer relevant. Any political process has to relate to the current situation.
Until now, the only appellation of origin registered in Israel is Jaffa for oranges. However, the brand Jaffa is actually used for oranges from Australia and South Africa as well, so that Jaffa can meet demands all year round. The Jaffa appellation should therefore be canceled. Certainly people are entitled to boycott Israel produce if it offends their sensibilities, but ironically, boycotting Jaffa oranges on political grounds hurts people of colour in South Africa rather than Jews or Arabs in Israel.
Categories: appellation of origin, coexistence, Intellectual Property, Israel, Israel Copyright, Israel IP, Uncategorized, החלטת רשות הפטנטים, סימן מסחר, סימני מסחר, סמני מסחר, קניין רוחני, קנין רוחני