ModernityBlog

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A Thin Skinned SNP Councillor, The Middle East And Boycotts.

with 2 comments

I was going to forward a good letter on West Dunbartonshire Council’s boycott of all Israeli products to the Council and Councillor Jonathan McColl, but alas they are blocking communications on Twitter.

They seem naive and thoughtless, to imagine that their actions would not receive a response, but worse than that they haven’t really adjusted their positions. Instead they have become truculent and defensive, which is a pity for the Scottish National Party, as it makes them look small-minded and parochial.

This letter from Pete Tobias‎ to Councillor Jonathan McColl of the SNP is well worth a read:

” June 1st 2011

Dear Councillor McColl,

I have just watched your video blog on YouTube and would like to apologise for the abuse that you and your fellow council members have received from members of the public who are responding inappropriately to your council’s decision to impose a (somewhat selective) ban on goods produced in Israel. I shall refrain from commenting on your interesting views how items such as mobile phones purchased in stores Glasgow owe nothing to Israeli technology, or how you seek to avoid any accident that might require you to receive medical treatment pioneered in the country you and your council seem to have singled out as the sole perpetrators of human rights abuses and atrocities.

Please allow me to be slightly more constructive and make some suggestions as to how you might restore the image of your council as a legitimate and sensible authority rather than appearing to be anti-semitic by focusing exclusively on the State of Israel for your ‘symbolic’ gesture.

Why not propose a motion at your next Council meeting condemning the violent and oppressive treatment of the Syrian people by their own government? And in case you think what is currently happening is an isolated incident, check this out: http://bit.ly/mBGcr9 . Worth a symbolic protest of some sort, don’t you think?

Or how about the Democratic Republic of Congo? www.savethecongo.org.uk. Darfur? Burma? Tibet? Sadly, the list of places in which human rights abuses are perpetrated by one group of people against another is a long and painful one.

As a rabbi, I have consistently found myself being vilified by my own community for comments that I have made criticising Israel’s actions. We are, after all, a people who are taught to think of ourselves as ‘poor we us’, as you so rightly observe, and how dare one of the Jewish people’s own leaders dare to add his voice to those who demand no less than Israel’s destruction? But when I do so, I try to balance my arguments (eg http://bit.ly/kLFUky , http://bit.ly/bYbSAI) – and I also recognise that there are other regimes in the world worthy of criticism.

That last point, I am afraid, is where your claim that West Dunbartonshire Council’s venture into international relations represents a genuine concern with human rights smacks of the anti-semitism that you seek to deny. Your council’s actions are unbalanced, are directed towards one individual country’s failings, but do not even try to take into account the numerous other human rights’ abuses that exist in our troubled world.

Councillor McColl, if you are genuinely concerned about human rights, and you genuinely want to demonstrate that West Dunbartonshire Council is similarly dedicated to such issues, might I suggest that you seek out one or two other causes to champion in your Council Chambers, some different human rights’ violations over which to make a ‘symbolic’ gesture? Otherwise, I am afraid, your protests that you are not behaving in an anti-semitic manner founder on the knee-jerk reaction your Council has made to one situation while ignoring numerous others.

I look forward very much to hearing that West Dunbartonshire Council has passed a resolution condemning the actions of the Syrian government, the Libyan government, the Egyptian government, the Burmese government, or any other cause of your choice. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, then I am afraid you are guilty as charged, and your position in singling out Israel is indefensible.

Yours sincerely,

Rabbi Pete Tobias”[My emphasis.]

2 Responses

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  1. […] response to the symbolic boycott of Israeli products by West Dunbartonshire Council some people are organising a boycott of Scotch […]

  2. The WDC Racist anti semitic ban—the story continues

    I received this email today:

    Thank you for your e-mail which was received by Strathclyde Police today, and following on from our phone conversation I note your concerns in relation to a specific West Dunbartonshire Council policy.
    For your information and consideration, the action of the local authority (as taken in 2009) does not amount to a criminal offence under Scots Law. The core priority of relevant legislation is to address forms of racially aggravated conduct although it is the opinion of Strathclyde Police that the action to which you refer is political, more akin to a challenge on the Israeli Governments policies than the Israeli people.
    The Jewish community’s defence organisation CST which exists to protect the community from anti-Semitism has clearly stated that anti-Israeli incidents are not by definition anti-Semitic.
    The Scottish Government commented in a similar manner at a recent Jewish community event, “I don’t think we should accept as a community that your position in Scottish society should be judged or affected by the policies of Israel. The Jewish community is not liable for those policies. It is possible to be critical of Israel without being anti-Semitic. The Jewish community should not be judged on whether people approve or disapprove of actions of Israel.”
    I am sorry that this information may be at odds with your own belief or opinion.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Fraser Candlish
    Fraser Candlish
    Chief Inspector
    Area Commander – Clydebank

    Comments?

    elliot

    22/08/2011 at 15:52


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