Systembolaget, the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, received complaints for having labeled its two kosher wines from the Golan Heights as coming from "Israel." The public argued that this was incorrect labeling, since Israel took control of the Golan from Syria in 1967 and under UN Resolution 497 it is considered not part of Israel at all, but rather, occupied territory.
Following the complaints, Systembolaget changed the labels last week and marked the origin of the wines as "Israel – occupied Syrian territory." However, the decision was immediately criticised by Israel and pro-Israeli groups, and the Monopoly was quick to surrender to the pressure. Systembolaget has therefore decided not to label the origin of the wines in any way.
"We conclude that our attempts to mark the origin of wines from the Golan Heights have been met by criticism from different camps. We will therefore abstain from marking the origin of these products in our product information. Our ambition is to continue to offer those clients who so wish to consume kosher wines good quality product," Anitra Steen, managing director of Systembolaget, said in a press release.
Steen is the wife of the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, a man well-known for his long and devoted support of Israel. Whether or not this has affected the decision is hard to tell, but it definitely gave the question an even more political flavour.