EU to require labels identifying goods that come from Israeli settlements

GlobalPost
Palestinian protesters sit under a shelter flying their national flag as they look out at an Israeli settlement on Feb. 27, 2015 in the West Bank.

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NEED TO KNOW:

Israel’s standing in the world community has taken some serious hits during the era of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who came to power around the same time as US President Barack Obama. Sympathy for Palestinians and frustration with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land (not to mention the indiscriminate bombings of Gaza) are both on the rise.

The European Union — that’s 28 countries in Europe — are moving ahead with a plan to label products sold in member countries that come from Israeli settlements. The guidelines will require anything made by Israeli businesses and farms in the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to inform consumers that they come from an “Israeli settlement.” If Palestinians make them, the label can read, “Product of Palestine,” or “Palestinian product.”

The Israeli government, of course, is not happy. But neither are the Palestinians who continue to lose their land to official Israeli policy, land grabs that are illegal under international law.

Netanyahu has also had a strained relationship with Obama. The Israeli prime minister is in the United States right now trying to make nice after months of aggressive lobbying against the Iran deal. That lobbying included a speech to US Congress urging lawmakers to vote against it. That time, Netanyahu was invited despite Obama’s rejections. Netanyahu has also continued to expand Israeli settlements, despite Obama’s repeated requests for the Israelis to freeze the practice.

Netanyahu’s trip to the United States this week coincides with intensifying violence in East Jerusalem. Young Palestinians, frustrated by the current state of affairs, have been attacking Jewish Israelis on the street for months now. The response by Israeli security forces has been at times brutal, creating a circle of violence that is pretty emblematic of the conflict as a whole.

WANT TO KNOW:

Today is Nov. 11, or 11/11, which if you look carefully you’ll see is a series of ones. One. One. One. One. It’s a bunch of singles. That is why in China, today is known as Singles’ Day. Take a second to wrap your head around that if you need to.

The annual celebration is sort of an anti-Valentine’s Day. It was originally a day to celebrate the joys of being alone, and loveless. It’s little surprise then that the day has slowly evolved over the last couple decades into the world’s most insane shopping bonanza. Today is now the biggest shopping day in the world. Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Not so much.

Last year, Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce site, did some $9.3 billion in sales in a single day, on Singles’ Day. It has already surpassed that number this year. In fact, China’s shoppers just totally smashed the one-day world record for sales. And it’s not just huge for Chinese retailers, foreign retailers have gotten in on it too.

As capitalism thrives in communist China, you can’t help but pity the delivery guy.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

There was another debate last night among the Republicans running for president of the United States. Did anyone watch it? They tackled the usual things: the economy, the tax code, minimum wage, immigration. They also, as usual, touched on international affairs — always a good opportunity to appear presidential. This, from GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Richard Hall in Beirut:

“Lebanon’s roughly one and a half million-strong Christian community woke up on Wednesday to the concerning news that they were going to be beheaded,” Hall says. “The warning came from an unlikely source: Jeb Bush.”

Bush said during the debate that, “If you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.”

As eloquent as the statement was, it unfortunately isn’t all that accurate. There are no militant groups beheading Lebanese Christians. Christians in Lebanon are not oppressed. “They practice their faith in thousands of churches across the country, free from interference, and are prominent in Lebanon’s culture and business communities,” Hall says.

You can read more fact checks on the fourth Republican debate here.