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EJC Speaks Out Against Scotland Ban of Israeli Products

The European Jewish Congress speaks out against a ban on Israeli books and products in Scotland, says such acts are "reminiscent of darker times."
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/25/2011, 4:35 AM / Last Update: 5/25/2011, 5:16 AM

The European Jewish Congress spoke out on Tuesday against reports that Israeli books and products have been banned or distinctively marked in several districts in Scotland, near Glasgow.

According to reports, the ban was initiated two and a half years ago, shortly after Operation Cast Lead. At the time, the West Dunbartonshire Regional Council, located west of Glasgow, approved a bill that called to boycott goods produced in Israel. West Dunbartonshire was later joined by the large Scottish city Dundee, which decided to issue a recommendation to boycott all goods produced in Israel.

Legal advisers instructed Dundee’s mayor to refrain from legally enforcing the boycott in order to avoid future lawsuits. Instead, the municipality now plans to distribute posters throughout the city, in which they call on its approximately 150,000 residents to refrain from buying Israeli goods. The municipality will also apply a special mark on Israeli products in order to make them easily identifiable.

A report last week in The Jewish Chronicle noted that a ban on books by Israeli authors could also be enforced in Scottish libraries as part of the same boycott policy. The report noted that while to date, no books have been removed from any of the libraries as the council members say censorship is “not in the spirit” of their boycott, officials are now “prepared to rule on a book-by-book basis.”

European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor said in response: “It is inconceivable that products from the Jewish State are banned or distinctively marked in Scotland. These acts are eerily reminiscent of darker times and perhaps there is a level of hatred that connects them.”

He added that “While those behind the boycott will claim that this is not anti-Semitic, targeting the only Jewish state, a democracy, while ignoring serial human-rights abusing nations tells us that this is indeed anti-Semitic in intent and in effect. This demonstrates how far ‘respectable antisemitism’ has come. Clearly it has become acceptable to boycott and discriminate against Jews, as long as there is a thin veneer of anti-Zionism which purportedly covers the hateful act.

“We call on Scottish and British officials to immediately pronounce this boycott illegal,” concluded Kantor.