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Call Issued to Boycott Scottish Whiskey

Jewish organization fed up with Scottish boycotts of Israel, calls U.S. synagogues to boycott whiskey brands made in Scotland.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/15/2011, 3:31 AM / Last Update: 6/15/2011, 9:49 AM

A Jewish organization in the United States has become so fed up with Scottish boycotts of Israel that it has come up with a counter-boycott.

The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC), the umbrella body for men’s clubs at Conservative synagogues in the United States, has issued a call for a boycott of certain Scottish whiskey brands.

Their call came in response to an anti-Israel boycott by a Scottish local government. The West Dunbartonshire Regional Council, located west of Glasgow, approved, shortly after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009, 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.

It was later reported that the municipality will also apply a special mark on Israeli products in order to make them easily identifiable.

If that was not enough, a recent report 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.

Two years ago, Unison Scotland, the second largest union in Great Britain, called on residents to boycott Eden Springs UK, the British subsidiary of the Mei Eden Israeli bottled-water company, arguing that Mei Eden's wells were located on the Golan Heights, which, it claims, are “occupied territories.”

The FJMC counter-boycott includes three well-known producers of spirits: Morrison Bowmore, Loch Lamond and Chivas Brothers. The FJMC has made it known to its members that these companies’ whiskeys, a staple at men’s Shabbat Kiddush clubs in American synagogues,  are products of that region of Scotland.

The counter-boycott was originally launched by a website called the Muqata Blog, which is run by an Israeli who writes under the pseudonym Jameel Rashid, and FJMC later joined it.

In his blog, Rashid recently published two responses he received from two of the distilleries after he contacted them to let them know about the boycott.

Kirsteen Beeston, head of Brands Marketing at Morrison Bowmore Distillers, wrote Rashid that that Morrison Bowmore does not “take any political stance and this policy has been made independently from us and without our consultation.”

Catherine Servier from Chivas Brothers wrote in response to Rashid’s letter that “the West Dunbartonshire Council does not represent the views of Chivas Brothers,” adding that “while some Chivas Brothers brands are bottled in Dumbarton, none of its whiskies are distilled in this region and both The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal are bottled at their site in Paisley and not Dumbarton.”