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Israel’s ambassador to the US sends out politically charged holiday gift

It may be the holiday season, but politics won't get a vacation from Israel's ambassador to the US. He sent out politically charged holiday gifts in response to a growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Ambassador Ron Dermer says that by sending American recipients a holiday basket that includes wine, olive oil and other goods produced in Israeli settlements, he is also delivering a message against those seeking to boycott the Jewish state.

Dermer said Wednesday the gift was meant to "combat the latest effort by Israel's enemies to destroy the one and only Jewish state."

Israel has been jarred by efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which Israel considers to be anti-Semitic.

Ambassador slams BDS

The BDS movement is sponsored by pro-Palestinian intellectuals and bloggers, which campaigns for a boycott of all Israeli goods and questions Israel's legitimacy.

Dermer said in the letter, which he posted on Twitter on Monday, that the group was supported by "fanatics and fools" who are "promoting a new anti-Semitism." The movement is a frequent target of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

An accompanying photograph showed packages in blue, silver and white wrapping with a seal of the Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C.

Israel's ambassador to the US Ron Dermer speaks to American Jewish leaders in Washington.

Israel's ambassador to the US Ron Dermer

Dermer complained that Israel was being unfairly held to a different standard than other countries and cited a recent European Union decision to label products made in Judea and Samaria, the Hebrew names for the West Bank, differently than those made in Israel.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank were born after Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Mideast war.

EU labels infuriate Israel

Under EU guidelines issued in November, products made in settlements on Israeli-occupied lands must be labeled as such, rather than carry a "Made in Israel" label. The EU considers settlements illegal under international law.

"Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled," he wrote.

He said Israel alone among its Middle East neighbors upholds high Democratic standards in its treatment of women, gays and Christians.

"In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights," Dermer wrote.

The US opposes the BDS movement.

bik/jil (AP, Reuters)

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