ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Letter

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.]

Strike Breaking At The Post Office.

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It gets worse and worse, now the Post Office management are considering how best to freeze out the CWU, reduce working conditions and make a packet for themselves, the Times reports:

“The Royal Mail is preparing to impose changes on its staff with the full backing of the Government, a leaked document revealed last night.

The disclosure came as the Communication Workers Union (CWU) confirmed that it was calling out 120,000 Royal Mail employees on a two-day strike, which it said was aimed at maximising disruption.

About 42,000 network drivers and mail centre staff are due to hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday, while on Friday 78,000 delivery and collection staff will walk out for 24 hours.

The CWU said that the Royal Mail’s refusal to negotiate over its modernisation plans and proposals to reform pay and working conditions had left it little choice. Dave Ward, the CWU deputy general secretary, said that it was “unbelievable” that the Government was not intervening in the long-running dispute. But an internal Royal Mail document suggests that it has full government support for implementing its plans without union agreement. The report also implies that if the CWU does not agree to the modernisation plans the Royal Mail will “serve notice” on its existing agreements with the union.

Written by modernityblog

15/10/2009 at 22:51

A Letter Explains All.

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A letter in the Times explains why there is a postal dispute in Britain and why the management are to blame for this poor state of affairs:

“Sir, I worked for Royal Mail (report, Oct 9) from 1975 to 1998, rising from postman to line manager. What the management wants to implement now were the practices that were in place then. It was management that changed, for efficiency reasons, to the practices they have today.

Postal staff sorting mail during the day would cover deliveries for sickness or holidays. Agency staff were only used at Christmas; all other shortfalls were covered in-house. Management cut these jobs.

Staff would work in a two or three-week rotation, delivering, sorting and collecting post, which made them flexible and multiskilled. Management split these into three separate departments, and staff had to choose which department to work in. There was no crossover and no flexibility. Part-time working in the early evening for sorting is ideal as the bulk of mail is collected from 5pm onwards.

Regarding a pension fund deficit, in some years Royal Mail made more than £200 million annual profit; all profits went to the Government. During this period the Government took a holiday of more than ten years from paying into the pension, as it said there was too much money in the fund. This contributed greatly to the present deficit.

In my time at Royal Mail it was estimated that it cost £18 to send a single letter from Southampton to Edinburgh. This was subsidised by the millions of letters delivered locally. If full privatisation of Royal Mail goes ahead, like the bus services and post offices, we will see the same problems arising in rural communities. People will have to collect their own mail from a central area simply because it will be too expensive to deliver, as the profitable areas that subsidised these deliveries will be creamed off by private companies.

K. Trumper
Southampton “


Update 1:
I missed this, but Royal Mail bosses got £10 million in bonuses:

“An investigation by The Independent on Sunday has revealed that Mr Crozier is not the only beneficiary of the company’s success in forcing through changes deemed “absolutely essential” by senior managers. Since 2002/3, Royal Mail Group has paid its executive board members – who typically number between four and six at a time – a total of more than £22m in salaries alone. But the executives received £10.7m in performance-related bonuses.

The bonus bill has risen from £616,000, shared between seven executives and the former non-executive chairman Allan Leighton in 2002/3, to £1.03m split by just four individuals last year.

Royal Mail made an operating profit of £321m in the year to 31 March, but it was the first time in 20 years that all four parts of the business had been profitable.

Geraldine Smith, the Labour MP leading the campaign against any privatisation of the service, said: “At a time when they are telling us how perilous the Royal Mail’s position is, they should not be taking millions of pounds out of the company. Anyone can make people redundant or cancel the second delivery.”

(H/T: Rubbish Royal Mail)

Written by modernityblog

14/10/2009 at 21:44