Scotland: Glasgow districts boycott Israeli books
LONDON – Scottish citizens might not be able to purchase English translations of Israeli masterpieces such as “A tale of love and darkness” by Amos Oz and “Someone to run with” by David Grossman, due to a boycott on Israeli books.
Two and a half years ago, shortly after Operation Cast Lead, the West Dunbartonshire Regional Council, located west of Glasgow, approved a bill that called to boycott goods produced in Israel.
According to the law, the council and all public bodies under its jurisdiction are forbidden to sell goods that originated from Israel.
Following the botched raid on the Turkish Flotilla to Gaza last May, the council expanded the boycott to include a ban on the purchase of English translations of Israeli books and the distribution of these books in public libraries throughout the council’s jurisdiction.
West Dunbartonshire was 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 plans to distribute posters throughout the city, calling on some 150,000 residents to refrain from buying Israeli goods, and will also apply a special mark on Israeli products, in order to make them easily identifiable.
Israel yes, Iran no
The European Union prohibits its member-nations from boycotting products from countries that are not under an official embargo imposed by the EU.
Unlike Iran, which is not subjected to a boycott in Britain despite being issued sanctions by the EU, Israel “enjoys” special scrutiny.
“The municipality will not boycott Israeli books printed in Britain, only books that were printed in Israel,” said West Dunbartonshire Regional Council Spokesperson Malcolm Bennie.
Bennie admitted that Israel is the only country being boycotted by the council, adding that the municipality had no intention of issuing a ban on products originating from Iran, Syria or Libya.
“A place that boycotts books is not far from a place that burns them,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor said in response. “The council stained the reputation of its members and shamed the good citizens of Scotland,” he added.
The announcement of the Scottish boycott on Israeli books stirred a storm among Israeli authors whose books were translated into English and sold throughout the British Kingdom.
“I think it is a despicable decision,” said award-winning author Amos Oz, whose books are widely distributed to international audiences.
“I think it’s a mistake to boycott literature and authors, because they represent the sane side of society,” said “The House of Dajani” author Alon Hilu.
“I am invited to a book festival in Edinburgh this August and I hope they don’t boycott me there as well,” he noted.