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A Toast to Mike Pompeo for Visiting an Israeli Apartheid Winery

Pompeo wine has been sold at this Israeli settlement winery for a year

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing masks after meeting in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2020.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing masks after meeting in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2020.Credit: DEBBIE HILL / AFP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Let’s raise a toast of Psagot wine to the life of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who this week is scheduled to visit – believe it or not – a winery. Pompeo wine has been sold at this winery for a year – it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, with a tag bearing his name, as a gift honoring his declaration that the settlement enterprise does not contravene international law.

If Pompeo had been secretary of state in the mid-20th century, he would most likely have been happy to be a guest of a winery in South Africa, where he could have raised a glass of Shiraz in honor of his hosts, determining that South Africa’s apartheid is a just system that does not violate international law. Pompeo will now end his term with a trip to the thieving winery situated in the heart of another apartheid location, and the process of whitewashing the settlements will reach another international nadir. Instead of American diplomats who don’t set foot beyond the 1967 Green Line, we have a secretary of state in Psagot (“summits” in Hebrew).

Haaretz podcast: Will Trump's purged Pentagon let Israel attack Iran?Credit: Haaretz

There is nothing like a visit to the Psagot winery – which has recently moved to the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone, and which belongs to Jewish tycoons in Florida – to signal a salute to Israeli apartheid. There is no wine more abominable than this rotten one. To your health, Secretary of State. Have some more of this stolen wine which bears your name. Maybe, since you’re arriving straight from Paris, you’ll at least be able to distinguish between French wine and settler wine.

Famous, like his president, for his sense of justice, Pompeo will arrive in that criminal neighborhood with a winery at its center, in order to express his identification with the expropriators and spit in the face of their victims. Pompeo will meet the winery’s CEO, Yaakov Berg, who will talk to him with the usual settler pathos. He won’t hear a word about the two sisters, Amal and Keinat Quran, who own plot 233 in bloc 217, on which Berg recklessly set up his private Tuscan-like farm, which includes a swimming pool and parking lot for the cars of wine collectors.

The home of Yaakov Berg, Psagot winery’s CEO. Credit: Alex Levac

The surrounding vineyards, described on the winery’s website as located “north of Jerusalem,” were planted on the lands of Huriya Quran and other Palestinians. Thus, one of the most despicable and low acts of dispossession in the annals of Zionism, which began this dispossession in its earliest days, will be blessed with praise and recognition by the U.S. administration. Let’s raise another glass for Pompeo.

While Europe is stumbling incoherently over the miniscule, almost pathetic and self-evident step of labeling products made in the settlements, which Berg has likened to a “yellow star badge,” the outgoing U.S. administration is telling Israel: Your crime has paid off. The leader of the free world recognizes it. The next administration won’t visit the Psagot winery and won’t taste its wines, but it won’t lift a finger in order to pressure Israel to return the land to its rightful owners.

Pompeo won’t see a thing. His hosts will lead him around using their usual deceptive and mendacious propaganda. He’ll hear about the “terror,” the Bible and the settlers’ security, not a word about the security of the native Palestinians, whose lives are at much greater risk, nothing about the sources of the just opposition to the occupation. He’ll hear a lot about the new pioneers, helped by evangelicals from his own country who help pick the grapes, but nothing about the burnt and uprooted olive trees all around, about the nightly abduction of innocent people by the Israeli army, about political or administrative detentions, about the oppression and brutality employed by a military tyranny which rules everything outside the winery.

Even if he did hear all this, it’s doubtful whether it would touch his heart; the Trump administration never showed any interest in the weak. Luckily, this administration is on its way out and Pompeo is as important as a dead duck. And yet, his visit to the Psagot winery will be remembered with shame.

Maybe there is nothing wrong with a winery sitting on stolen land, as long as its terroir is excellent and its astringency as it should be? After all, what is the difference between someone visiting a settler winery and someone who arms and finances Israel so that it can protect the winery and the entire enterprise of dispossession all around it? Let us therefore raise one more glass of Psagot wine to the life of Pompeo. He will probably find it pleasant.

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