Counter-boycott called deterrence to Scottish council’s Israel boycott
June 26, 2011 | Jewish Tribune
TORONTO-JERUSALEM – “Our global counter-boycott of the West Dunbartonshire Council is now a proven deterrence against Scottish councils boycotting Israel,” stated Land of Israel activist Jameel Rashid, the initiator of a counter-boycott of whiskeys produced in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, in response to its council’s recent decision to boycott Israeli products.Many individual pro-Israel activists, as well as, most notably, the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) – the umbrella body for more than 250 men’s clubs at Conservative synagogues with more than 20,000 members across North America and which promotes Israel advocacy – have called on their communities to stop using whiskey made in West Dunbartonshire and to send protest letters to the distilleries, as per Rashid’s urging via his blog (muqata.blogspot.com).
“It’s best to contact the whiskey distillers directly, since the West Dunbartonshire Council of ‘wise men’ couldn’t care less what a pro-Israel, pro-liberty person might think...but they might listen to voices of their constituents – specifically the Scotch whiskey distilleries in their council’s region,” Rashid stated.
The West Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to boycott Israeli goods was made following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009; Dundee Council, also in Scotland, reportedly followed suit.
According to Rashid, the proof in the pudding of his campaign’s success is that last week, “the Dundee Council in Scotland voted overwhelmingly (24-2) against condemning Israel, and they rejected a similar boycott of Israel.”
Nevertheless, a handful of pro-Israel activists disagree with the counter-boycott, claiming that the targetted companies are innocent of anti-Israel incitement and it would be unfair to cause them economic hardship.
Gavin Durnin, director of Sales & Marketing for Loch Lomond Distillers Ltd., stated in his response to mass emails: “The West Dunbartonshire Council in Scotland does not represent the views of Loch Lomond Distillery with regard to the decision of West Dunbartonshire Council to participate in the BDS campaign (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) against Israel, nor were we consulted in any way prior to their decision to participate in the BDS against Israel.”
As well, according to a JTA report: “Kirsteen Beeston, a spokeswoman for Morrison Bowmore Distillers, told the Jerusalem Post that her company does not take political positions and that the West Dunbartonshire Council’s policy ‘has been made independently from us and without our consultation.’”
“I do not understand why, if Morrison Bowmore Distillers is not taking a political position, their products should be boycotted,” opined Brian Lass, president of Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto.
Similarly, Larry Zeifman, an organizer of the “Kiddush club” at BAYT in Thornhill, told the Jewish Tribune: “My problem is the idea that we should boycott a company even if they have absolutely nothing to do with a boycott of Israel. In fact, from what I have seen, no one has indicated that there are any distillers supporting the boycott.”
“FJMC certainly deserves our praise,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Distilleries in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, have a responsibility to ensure that discriminatory resolutions are not passed, and FJMC’s action may in fact push them into that realization. Hopefully, the kiddush clubs of all denominations could put aside their differences and agree to down the same scotch in support of the state of Israel.”