For the Jewish News March 31 2019
A bid to boycott Israeli wine in the Netherlands has backfired spectacularly, caused a sell-out of the wine in the country — and become a talking point on Dutch TV.
Mieke Zagt, who contributes to the Electronic Intifada website, tried to attack the Dutch supermarket chain, Hema, for selling Efrat wine. In a posting on Twitter, she wrote: “Hey, Hema, you’re selling Efrat wine from Judean Hills [as] made in Israel. Is this possible? Efrat and Judean Hills are in occupied Palestinian land. Efrat is an illegal Israeli colony. Can you verify the origin? #hema #notAgainAye!??”
In fact, the Efrat Winery is one of Israel’s oldest, based in Tsora, within Israel’s 1949 armistice line. Despite its name, the wine is not from disputed territory.
But when Gideon van der Sluis, a Dutch-born Israeli business consultant, and several other pro-Israel advocates began engaging on Twitter, within 24 hours it became the top-trending item on Dutch Twitter, with people from around the country using it, with pictures of newly-bought Efrat wine.
Within hours, both the red and white Efrat wines were sold out from the online store of Hema — a huge chain with 525 stores in the Netherlands alone.
Hundreds of Dutch citizens took up the challenge to buy Efrat wines, which began selling even faster after Christians for Israel, whose headquarters are just outside Amsterdam, posted an article on its website and Facebook page, encouraging its many thousands of readers and supporters to buy Efrat wines. The surge in sales and the Twitter campaign became an item on Dutch TV news.
Hema declined to say how many bottles were sold, citing its commercial privacy. But the chain acknowledged that many of its branches, as well as its online store, had run out of Efrat wine.
Esther Voet, editor in chief of the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly, told JTA: “It’s hilarious. Everybody has started to buy Israeli wine.”