I had to read it a couple of times when it appeared as a small item in a red-top and then check it out from several different sources on Google, including the council’s own website. It appears, however, to be true: the West Dunbartonshire Council, in Scotland, is banning books produced in Israel or produced by Israeli authors, along with all other Israeli products.
To make matters worse, the council is stocking the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which has been repeatedly used since it was concocted by Czarist secret police agents provocateur in the 19th century to justify attacks on Jews.
One journalist has written:
It beggars belief that any democratically-elected municipal council in Britain can get away with such blatant racial prejudice and discrimination. The Council has no concern for the crimes and inhumanities of China, Iran, Sudan, North Korea or Zimbabwe, all of which have appalling records on human rights. Their focus is Israel, and Israel alone.
By this act, West Dunbarton has made anti-Semitism respectable and acceptable…
This is of course correct. But it strikes me that “anti-Semitism” is not strong enough a word to describe what is happening. This is not anti-Semitism of the “we’ve got nothing against them but we don’t want them in the golf-club” variety, nor is it racism of the kind of which the British National Party is accused. It cannot be very pleasant to be a Jew living in West Dunbarton and know that one’s culture and identity has, ominously, been singled out in this manner. Quite obviously, if this type of discrimination were applied to any other group, it would not attract forty column-centimeters on the inside pages of a few papers, but universal uproar and political intervention.
To single out Israeli books for banning links directly and obviously with Hitler’s book-burning. It is a symbolic pogrom, and it is meant to be. What comes next? The Bible and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity going on the bonfire? Mendelssohn’s Wedding March banned in West Dunbarton for marriage celebrations? We have seen how it begins, and we have also seen how it ends. If this is hyperbolic I make no apologies for the fact.
What makes it even more shocking is that it is being done by an elected council (as a matter of fact, the Scottish National Party has a majority of council seats). Obviously the councillors believe their electorates will find this behavior acceptable. What is also noticeable is the scattered and sporadic nature of the protests: the left has again shown its hypocrisy and selective indignation by remaining silent on the matter, or siding with the anti-Semites. Further, this is at a time when attacks on Jews are reported to be increasing throughout Europe.
Something called the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign calls protests against criticism of the council, or rather, “demented Zionist hysteria,” illustrated on its website with a caricature Yid complete with skull-cap, hooked nose and black, Semitic-looking beard, and bedecked with stars of David. Those of us who have studied certain aspects of 20th century history have seen similar pictures before.
A statement put out by the council speaks for itself all too plainly:
West Dunbartonshire Council utterly refutes [sic] recent media claims that it has ‘launched a boycott on Israeli books’.
The Council’s boycott does not in any way seek to censor or silence authors and commentators from Israel.
The Council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK and are therefore not affected by this boycott. Only books that were printed in Israel and transported to the UK for distribution would be potentially boycotted.”
So that’s all right, then, isn’t it?
Those responsible can try to make excuses and pass their disgusting behavior off as somehow normal (like the British University colleges that have refused to take Israeli students), but if they get away with it, Britain will be internationally disgraced, and a precedent will have been set for the first official British anti-Semitism since Cromwell’s time (spare, us, please, the nauseating charade of calling it “anti-Zionism.”)
I don’t know whether or not this behavior by the council is in breach of Britain’s (and the EU’s) frequently Draconian human rights and equality legislation, but it doesn’t matter.
If British Prime Minister David Cameron had some real manliness and decency he would intervene to put a stop to it without further ado. I’m not particularly interested in this context in any legalistic argument that local Government in Scotland under devolution has acquired independent powers: Westminster holds the purse-strings, and given sufficient determination could find ways to pressure this council into decent behavior quickly enough.