West Dunbartonshire Council under attack for boycott stand

J-BIG is endorsing the open letter below, sent to us by Mick Napier, chair of Scottish PSC. He wrote:

Not for the first time the Scottish Daily Express is wholly fabricating a story  – this time that West Dunbartonshire Council is ‘launching a boycott of Israeli books’.
The Express favourably quotes the Israeli Embassy’s Amir Oftek comparing the Council to Joseph Goebbels burning books by Jewish authors.

The West Dunbartonshire Council unanimously passed a motion during Operation Cast Lead to ‘immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel.’  http://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/news/council-refutes-media-claims-regarding-the-israeli-boycott/

The Express article is the usual Zionist tactic of changing the subject away from Israel’s activities.  It is a challenge which, if we rise to the occasion, can give a boost to the BDS campaign.  We all need to defend West Dunbartonshire Council to avoid a retreat from BDS as happened with Marrickvale Council in Australia, in the face of what Mayor Fiona Byrne rightly described as a “sledgehammer of pressure”.

Please sign the open letter below in support of West Dunbartonshire Council. We especially seek signatures from published authors, elected representatives. Get back by 10am tomorrow, Tuesday, so we can get an initial letter and press release out.


24 May 2011
“We applaud West Dunbartonshire Council’s principled decision, taken during the Israeli massacres of Operation Cast Lead, to support the Palestinian appeal for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions).

Attempts to portray this position as a ‘boycott of Israeli books’ fits with well-tried Israeli Government campaigning to re-focus discussion away from Israel’s actions.  Books by UK-published Israeli authors are in no danger of being removed from the library shelves of West Dunbartonshire; forced removal from their homes, however, is a constant peril for many Palestinians as part of Israel’s racist policy of dispossession of the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian boycott includes Israel institutions linked to the state as well as Israeli companies. Publishing companies are not exempt and are already being boycotted around the world, including Scotland.  Iain Banks also responded ethically to Operation Cast Lead:

“I’ve told my agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers. I would urge all writers, artists and others in the creative arts, as well as those academics engaging in joint educational projects with Israeli institutions, to consider doing everything they can to convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.”

We reject the Israeli Embassy’s sinister attempts to conflate active opposition to Israeli crimes with hostility to Jews.  We concur with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond that the Scottish Jewish Community should not “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.”

If Israel wants to end the growing campaign of BDS it should end its military occupation and settlement building, cease bulldozing Palestinian homes and end its practice of throwing families onto the street to reduce the Palestinian Arab population, and respect its other obligations under international law.

We urge councils world-wide to follow the example of West Dunbartonshire in Scotland, and a growing number elsewhere, and discuss how to respond positively to the appeal from the Palestinian people for solidarity, above all in the form of a commitment to BDS.”

Omar Barghouti
Lenni Brenner
Ronnie Kasrils
Rich Wiles
Neil Davidson
Marion Woolfson



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