Friday, May 27, 2011

Wowing them in Washington, but not the West Bank - or West Dunbartonshire.

PRESIDENT Obama says a solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict must be based on Palestinian statehood within the pre-1967 borders. A neutered, "demilitarised" version of statehood neither the United States, Israel nor anyone else would accept, of course. Then Benyamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington and says there is no question of Israel withdrawing to those borders.

While Obama is away meeting the Queen of England and David Cameron before attending the G8 summit, Netanyahu is wowing the US Congress. It doesn't take much. As the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom commented:

Moon is made of green cheese
In the US Congress,
Netanyahu can declare that
The Moon is made of green cheese
And get a standing ovation.

Nevertheless, the whole world
Accepts the 1967 lines
As the basis for the
Border of peace
Between Israel and Palestine.

Ad published in Ha'aretz, May 27, 2011

"Two States"? Why, Israel is offering two enclaves, to be surrounded by Israel-held territory, right up to the Jordan, so it will control access, just as with Gaza. But Israel cannot talk to the Palestinians, because they won't "recognise" it, meaning not they will not talk, obviously, but they will not concede its legitimacy or agree to everything ahead of talks. And anyway, whereas before there was no point in talks because the Palestinians were divided (touch wood), now they are not, and therefore we cannot talk to terrorists! Besides, we have not finished locking up their elected representatives. In conclusion, the obstacle to peace is the Palestinians. (But with your help we can set about removing them).

Whatever it was Netanyahu said, he had the congressmen and senators jumping up and down for standing ovations so much, with genuine signs of enthusiasm for the TV cameras, veteran Israeli campaigner Uri Avnery called his piece "Bibi and the Yo Yos".

This is the Israeli prime minister whose own party says it will never accept a Palestinian state west of the river Jordan, and who reassured allies that they need not worry because Obama would not remain president for long. Damn that success with Bin Laden, a setback for the Tea Party friends!

Not that the Palestinians, or even those in the United States who sympathise with them, are attaching much hope to the US president, who let Netanyahu cock a snook by ignoring him on expanding settlements, and now follows his fine words about '67 borders by saying "with due regard for post 1967 demographic change".

But while reinforcing its troops on the West Bank, and consolidating its forces on Capitol Hill, the Zionist state is not ignoring what opponents are up to in West Dunbartonshire. What, you have not heard? Neither had I until this week when I received a communication from a bunch of people with whose approach I often disagree (but never mind), the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. (West Dunbartonshire is a county area west of Glasgow, containing many of the city's commuter towns and villages):

On Friday 21 May 2011 Marcus Dysch wrote in the Jewish Chronicle that "Books by Israeli authors could be removed from Scottish libraries" as part of an elected Scottish Council's BDS campaign. Dysch claimed "the ban is enforceable in libraries run by West Dunbartonshire Council" and referred to un-named "Israel supporters" who claimed that this ban "aligned the council with Iran and Saudi Arabia".

The following day, the Scottish Daily Express claimed that West Dunbartonshire Council is "launching a boycott of Israeli books" and favourably quoted the Israeli Embassy's Amir Oftek, who compared the Council to Joseph Goebbels burning books by Jewish authors.

Under the heading "Scottish Council Launches Ban on Israeli Books", one
Israeli website called for an email campaign against "the latest sick chapter in the BDS campaign". The Jerusalem Post told Israeli readers three days later that the censorship wave had spread across the whole of Scotland, in an article headlined, "Israeli book ban may be imposed in Scottish libraries".

Not to be left behind in the frenzy, the Israeli
YNet News Service claimed that even Scottish bookshops were being subject to the censorship, since "several districts in southwest Scotland expands boycott on Israeli products, bar stores from carrying English translations of Israeli books"(sic). Israeli Ambassador Prosor expressed official Israeli fears that the cultural level in Scotland, a country which has had relatively high levels of literacy since the Protestant Reformation, was such that a wave of book burning could erupt: "A place that boycotts books isn't far from a place that burns them".

A day earlier Jeffrey Goldberg had shared with the 400,000 readers of
The Atlantic (aimed at 'thought leaders') his assessment that he detected "in Scotland, a hint of Goebbels". The claims only became more and more bizarre, when the World Jewish Congress tapped into dark Jewish memories by claiming that the City Council of Scotland's third largest city, Dundee, planned to "place a special sticker on products that are made in Israel".

Building on this, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor condemned Israeli products being "distinctively marked in Scotland. These acts are eerily reminiscent of darker times and perhaps there is a level of hatred that connects them".

After such cranking up of the Nazi theme by propagandists for Israel, came the insane emails, such as the one suggesting the Council might want to "appoint a guard to patrol around the library and his snarling trained Alsatian to sniff out any Jewish books written in Israel which may have slipped through the net and polluted the glorious and proud shelves of the Judenfrei library in West Dumbartonshire."

The only problem with the hysteria is that the entire story was a fabrication from start to finish – from the West Dunbartonshire Libraries' ban on authors to the Scottish-wide censoring of bookshops, to Dundee City Council's plan to put special stickers on Israeli products. It was a complete invention, whose aim was simply to distract attention away from Israel's ongoing crimes in Palestine and to smear and intimidate those decent men and women who voted to support Palestine against the Israeli crimes.

During the Israeli mass killings of Operation Cast Lead, West Dunbartonshire Council passed a motion to support the appeal from Palestinian civil society for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel, and institutions supporting that state, until Israel respects all its obligations under international law. All Israeli companies fall within the scope of BDS. Individual Israelis do not. That is why Israeli publishing companies are included in the boycott. West Dunbartonshire Council's statement can be read

The hysteria ratcheted up with each new invention was phoney. A pity none of the 'journalists' took the trouble to check the catalogue of the well-run libraries of West Dunbartonshire to see the range of books by Israeli authors on the shelves.

Israeli Ambassador Prosor knows a thing or two about book burning. He still defends the bombing and burning of the library of the Al Aqsa University in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, as do Israeli authors such as Amos Oz, whose books will sit unmolested on the library shelves in West Dunbartonshire.

The barbarians are accusing those who take a stand for human rights of censorship. Those whom the UN's Goldstone Report accuses of war crimes and crimes against humanity are lashing out at those who stand up to power and defend justice.

Which side are you on?

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
24 May 2011

They suggest you e-mail West Dunbartonshire councillors to express your support. and supply a list of councillors' e-mail contacts.

I don't know whether it is necessary, or useful, to mail each councillor individually, and they are probably having enough trouble with hate mail from the usual suspects across the Atlantic, but there you go.

I have not seen any reports of unusual bonfires in Scottish towns and cities, indeed apart from the sources mentioned by Scottish PSC and one or two Pavlov-trained bloggers there seems to be nothing out there on the internet about West Dunbartonshire's supposed ban. Even the Jewish Chronicle this week does not seem to be keeping up the issue - no reports of Board of Deputies' emergency meetings, nor Jewish students hastening northwards.

They did much better than this thirty years ago when Dundee twinned with Nablus.

I have passed this matter on to Israeli friends and shall also await news from people like Scottish Jews for Just Peace. My pal comedian Ivor Dembina, who has performed in places as diverse as Jenin refugee camp and the Houses of Parliament is preparing another show for Edinburgh, where he was very successful last year.

Incidentally, while scouring the 'JC' for anything about a book ban I found the news that Tesco has finally decided to stop selling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I and others commented on this peculiar item years ago. Pity more "mainstream" media were too busy commenting on its availability in some Arab countries and Muslim bookshops to focus on the big firm.

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At 12:49 AM, Anonymous Cllr Jonathan McColl said...

I've uploaded a video blog on @WDCouncil #boycott of #Israeli goods. Further threats will not be tolerated. Please RT.


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