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Posts Tagged ‘Bigots

Whisky, West Dunbartonshire Council And Fakes.

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In response to the symbolic boycott of Israeli products by West Dunbartonshire Council some people are organising a boycott of Scotch whisky.

It all seems to me a bit petty, given that West Dunbartonshire Council doesn’t actually import any Israeli products. Certainly, they use technology which is derived from Israeli know-how, that includes but isn’t limited to Intel chips, Microsoft XP software and Kinect.

However, the Council and the posturing Councillors are hardly going to inconvenience themselves by really boycotting Israeli technology, lest it proves too troubling, like giving up using Google (their key search algorithm was developed by an Israeli).

As for the retaliatory boycott, well I am not sure it makes the required point, but Drink Business Review explains:

“FJMC Executive Director Rabbi Simon’s boycott urge followed after Israeli-Anglo blogger and pro-settlement activist, Jameel Rashid publicized on his website a letter to several distilleries located within West Dunbartonshire.

In his letter he stated, the global counter boycott of Scottish whiskey products, distilled in the West Durbanshire council region, is beginning, and requested officers to cease the purchase of any goods that made or grown in Israel.

The West Dunbartonshire Council, while it has not responded publically to calls endorsing a boycott of locally manufactured spirits, has defended the decision which sparked the protest.

The council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK, and are therefore not affected by this boycott. “

The intense interest in this issue has revealed an exceedingly unsavoury side to the instigator of the boycott, Councillor Jim Bollan.

Bollan seems perfectly comfortable contextualising the decapitation of a three-month old baby, as the JC reports:

“”Violence breeds violence. Have you any idea what may have motivated this man [Awad] to commit this crime? Could it have been because he may have seen Palestinian children slaughtered by the IDF?”

Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children were murdered in the West Bank settlement in March. The youngest victim, three month old Hadas, was decapitated.

Responding to another pro-Israel activist, Mr Bollan declared: “Hamas was elected and are freedom fighters alongside the Palestinians fighting an illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.”

Mickey Green of Scottish Friends of Israel said: “I’m not surprised he has sunk to this level. This is a man with pre-conceived ideas and a mental block to reason. He is functioning at a nasty, visceral level.

Judy reports that the fake Gay Girl in Damascus had form, as, er a “anti-Zionist” or something like that.

Marko at Greater Surbiton points out the Guardian’s complicity in this issue, The Guardian’s disgraceful treatment of Jelena Lecic.

Over at Though Cowards Flinch, Carl has a superb post on Chavez, anti-Zionism, and antisemitism. It is noticeable how the thread is almost monopolised by a particular “anti-Zionist”, who is keen to quibble and nitpick on these issues, but he can’t see any anti-racism. Well, not when it is aimed at Jews, that is.

Finally, Tim Marshall has a provocative post, The ‘Arab Spring’ And The Conspiracy Of Silence:

“Across the Middle East from the Arab leaders you can hear the sound…… of silence. A similar sound emanates from many Muslim ‘activists’.

Take the most glaring example – Bahrain. The allegation, backed by human rights groups, is that the Sunni ruled state opened fire with live rounds on peaceful protesters from the majority Shia population, killed large numbers of people, then followed up with a wave of arrests which resulted in widespread torture.

The response from Arab leaders? In the Gulf, the 6 nation Gulf Cooperation Council quickly sent troops to assist in the repression whilst most Western nations, aware of the US military fleet based in Bahrain did little to upset the old order. Elsewhere, the Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Algerians et al – just kept quiet.

During the Egyptian upheaval the House Of Saud was quietly horrified at how quickly the Americans let the Generals get their way and remove Mubarak. In private they let Washington know their displeasure, but to have complained openly would have been to do what you don’t do in the Arab political world in public (and to a lesser extent in our own systems) which is to tell the truth.

Update 1: This is a thoughtful perspective on Tom MacMaster, the fake blogger, Understanding #amina.

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

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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.]

Questions for West Dunbartonshire Council.

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One of my readers, Penny, has some excellent questions for West Dunbartonshire Council:

“I haven’t time or space right now to pick up on every issue so I’ll just mention two statements that I found troubling and which I’ll post separately. I trust the councillor –should he read the posts – will see them as constructive criticism from one who has done the job herself.

In my opinion the following statement is very unfortunate:

“West Dunbartonshire Council remains committed to our boycott of Israeli goods and our resolve has only been strengthened by the torrent of vile abuse threats of violence against our families that has come from people who claim to be peace loving people.”

So, what has actually been said here?

There is no mention of Israel having exacerbated the situation that existed in 2009. Yet the council’s resolve has been strengthened. Why? According to Cllr McColl this is because the councillors have experienced a very negative reaction from some members of the public.

What a very bizarre way to approach policy!

Has the Councillor considered how this might be interpreted by residents in Dunbarton? Because what this position seems to be saying is that a) if the council votes on a contentious issue and that vote causes public protest, outrage and threats and b) this public reaction then results in councillors becoming hurt or otherwise emotionally distressed then c) those councillors will not only stick with their original decision but will strengthen their resolve to do so! This isn’t professional and it isn’t very democratic either.

A councillor is most unlikely to complete his/her term without some form of public disapproval. I certainly didn’t! But if a decision creates such outrage – and I daresay distress – then shouldn’t the councillors first course of action be to listen to the people, undertake a proper and professional review of the issue and do all that is necessary to maintain the good name of their council rather than viewing it only through a prism of self-defence and acting on that alone?

Reading the motion and listening to the video has not convinced me that there has been an honest and in-depth appraisal of the situation with further research undertaken. One would have thought that before strengthening resolve some consideration might have been given to Judge Goldstone’s retraction – which weakens the original case.

Given that this issue has been discussed on several blogs in the UK and has reached American sites, I would have thought that the best way forward would be to convene a meeting between the council and an organisation able to represent the Israeli perspectives. At least that way some academic information might surface and the council could be seen to be doing its best to understand both the issues and the outrage.

Furthermore, if councillors are receiving abuse/threats then such a move would go a long way to stopping that. Which is an awful lot better than going on the attack, sending out warnings and mentioning the police straight away. These types of actions are not the best way to shape the public’s view of a council and although the police take threats seriously, personally, I think it might be better to instigate other measures first in order to support police resources.” [My emphasis.]

Boycotting Israelis, Playing The Victim And West Dunbartonshire Council.

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West Dunbartonshire Council and the man, that made a critical amendment of the motion to boycott all Israeli goods, has now released a video on the matter.

Why the deputy leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, Councillor Jonathan McColl, decided to make this video is a mystery to me.

I would have thought that Cllr McColl and West Dunbartonshire Council might have learnt the expression, when in a hole stop digging, but alas, no.

I suppose, being charitable, that Cllr McColl wants to get his point across, but from my brief viewing it doesn’t do them any favours.

The tone and content of the video suggest that West Dunbartonshire Council and Cllr McColl didn’t understand or appreciate the sensitivity of the term “boycott” when applied to Israelis or Jews. Moreover, there is an attempt within the video to play the victim, to gain pity and say that people have said terrible things to them.

It is quite possible that members of the public vented their understandable anger at Cllr McColl or West Dunbartonshire Council, presumably the lesson to learn is, don’t go posturing about issues that you barely understand and sensitivities that you couldn’t.

The sight of politicians whining about how people have said nasty things to them, in this instance, is unedifying. They might do well to remember that Israelis and Jews have faced far, far worse things than a bit of name-calling.

I think that they could have spent their time more profitably by reading, thinking and understanding that Europeans posturing about the Middle East is both condescending and decidedly unnecessary, it achieves little and potentially aggravates many.

I would suggest that the councillors of West Dunbartonshire Council make an effort to read up on antisemitism, in depth, and the history of Poland and Germany in the 1920s/1930s in particular. If the libraries in West Dunbartonshire Council don’t have books on the topics I am happy to provide a reading list for said councillors.

Any way, please do view the video and let me have your comments. I have taken the liberty of posting Cllr McColl’s full comments as a public record:
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West Dunbartonshire Council, Israel And Political Posturing.

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The West Dunbartonshire Council is boycotting all things Israeli, or so they say:

“The Council’s boycott does not in any way seek to censor or silence authors and commentators from Israel.

The Council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel.

I can’t imagine that aside from medical technology, computer chips, Microsoft’s operating systems and various other bits of modern equipment that West Dunbartonshire Council actually import much from Israel, directly or indirectly.

The Council, readers will remember, is about 20 miles from Glasgow, a small municipality with a population of approximately 90,000 [2009 figures] and relatively poor, with low attainment levels in education.

From their statement, it is clear that West Dunbartonshire Council’s determination to boycott Israeli goods is merely posturing. It is not, as if, they get many tins of Israeli chickpeas or Israeli chicken soup sent to them. Over time they have probably imported, none. Therefore their boycott won’t mean a damn to the local residents or the Council, really, but it is a fine political distraction from the many serious problems in the locality. A bit of political posing.

If they were truly serious then they would stop using all of that sophisticated Israeli medical equipment, computer technology and finally Google, which uses a search algorithm developed by an Israeli.

The Council could stop using all of that computer technology from Intel and Microsoft, all developed with Israeli know-how, but they won’t, because it would be a hindrance to them. West Dunbartonshire Council’s supposed boycott is just a pose, a piece of political theatre as they won’t inconvenience themselves, really, for the sake of their alleged principles.

So they don’t import anything from Israel, haven’t banned anything in two years and basically it means nothing to them, but here is the Council’s statement, make your own mind up:

“West Dunbartonshire Council utterly refutes recent media claims that it has ‘launched a boycott on Israeli books’.

The Council’s boycott does not in any way seek to censor or silence authors and commentators from Israel.

The Council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK and are therefore not affected by this boycott. Only books that were printed in Israel and transported to the UK for distribution would be potentially boycotted.

In the in the two and a half years the boycott has been in place there has never been a case when the library service has been unable to purchase a book it wished to as a result of this boycott.

Contrary also to recent media reports the boycott is not retrospective and absolutely no books have been or will be removed from our library shelves as a consequence of the motion.

Councillors of West Dunbartonshire Council voted to introduce the boycott in 2009 in response to the disproportionate use of force used against Palestinians and resulting loss of life.

The full motion is:

‘This Council deplores the loss of life in Palestine which now numbers well over 1,000. This Council also recognises the disproportionate force used by the IDF in Palestine and agrees to boycott all Israeli goods as a consequence. Officers should immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel. Officers should also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this boycott is formally lifted by WDC.’ ” [My emphasis.]

Update 1: Hunting around I found an original minute of the meeting dealing with it, in the Google cache. I am reproducing it, as matter of public record, it is fairly long:
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Written by modernityblog

23/05/2011 at 22:41

Meghan McCain On Bits Of The Tea Party.

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The Torygraph has a funny piece on Christine O’Donnell:

“Miss McCain, a Republican who is making a name for herself as an outspoken pundit, said what many party colleagues have been afraid of uttering publicly.

She is moderate who supports gay marriage, has criticised her father’s vice-presidential running mate Sarah Palin and taken issue with the anti-tax Tea Party for its “innate racism”.

Miss O’Donnell, 41, is a Tea Party darling.

She is trailing badly in the Delaware Senate race, is best known for having spoken out against masturbation and admitting she had “dabbled” in witchcraft.

Her first television campaign advertisement began with her saying: “I am not a witch.”

“Well, I speak as a 26-year-old woman and my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office,” Miss McCain said on ABC News. “She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business.

“It scares for me for a lot of reasons. In my group of friends, it turns people off because she’s seen as a nut job.” “

Very brave words, cos if Ms. McCain wakes up one day with pin holes in her then we’ll know the rumours about Christine O’Donnell are true, very brave 🙂

Update 1: Nick Lowles has more on some anti-Obama types:

“So you can imagine my surprise when I came across some anti-Obama activists outside the White House this afternoon. I was even more surprised to find them to be supporters of Lyndon LaRouche, well known to us at Searchlight for his right wing conspiratorial views.

There were about seven LaRouche activists there, some with placards with pictures of Obama with a Hitler moustache.

After taking a few photos I went over and struck up conversation with one of the people there. “Wasn’t it unfair to link Obama to Hitler?” I asked. “No,” came the reply. According to this woman the same people and institutions that funded Hitler were funding Obama – including, she told me, the Bank of England. hmmmm.”

Update 2: Ms. O’Donnell is very shaky on a key part of North American politics, the US constitution:

“The US constitution has its quirks but it is crystal clear on one issue: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” begins the first amendment, adopted in 1791. But more than 200 years later, its meaning appears to be lost on Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party favourite running for a US Senate seat.

At a debate today for the Delaware Senate seat once occupied by Vice President Joe Biden, O’Donnell appeared to be nonplussed by the wording of the first amendment, repeatedly returning to the subject and sounding incredulous after her Democratic opponent Chris Coons attempted to explain it to her.

When Coons told her the text of the constitution prohibited government from establishing any religion, O’Donnell replied in apparent bewilderment: “You’re telling me that’s in the first amendment?”

Minutes earlier, the audience at Widener Law School in Delaware had laughed in derision when O’Donnell asked: “Where in the constitution is the separation of church and state?”

Not only is the first amendment perhaps the most famous part of the constitution but the “establishment clause”, as it is known, is the subject of legal precedent stretching back into the 19th century. No less an authority than Thomas Jefferson, one of the constitution’s authors, declared the clause’s aim to build “a wall of separation between church and state”.

While O’Donnell’s campaign was quick to attempt damage limitation, saying that the words “separation of church and state” appear nowhere in the constitution, the gaffe does O’Donnell no favours as her campaign unravels and she trails far behind Coons in latest opinon polls.”

Written by modernityblog

18/10/2010 at 21:50

Entertainment News: Tea, A Would-be Witch And Mel Gibson.

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I suppose we shouldn’t laugh, but the idea of starting a political advert saying “I’m not a Witch…” is only something that a Tea Partyer could do.

This is Christine O’Donnell’s advert, and I dare you not to smile:

And below another clip from 1999 where she admits to being a Witch:

Ms. O’Donnell makes Dan Quayle look like a erudite scholar by comparison, and here’s a reminder of his abilities:

More humour from the States, apparently Mel Gibson’s one-time partner, Oksana Grigorieva, is hiring a lot of lawyers, some 39.

Ms. Grigorieva will need them, having put up with Gibson’s rants, assaults and his racism she’ll need all the help she can get.

I have a feeling that Mel might be up for Tea Party membership shortly

Written by modernityblog

16/10/2010 at 22:52