The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) – a partnership of 250 Jewish men’s
clubs that claims more than 25,000 members throughout North America – has joined
with synagogues both in Israel and in the diaspora in “suggesting a boycott of
scotch from distillers located in West Dunbartonshire Council in Scotland at
Kiddush and [in] public and private” celebrations.
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The FJMC, which is
affiliated with the Conservative movement, has called for Jews to avoid certain
brands of spirits following a boycott of Israeli goods instituted by the local
council of the whiskey-producing region.
“A boycott is like a snowball
heading downhill,” said FJMC Executive Director Rabbi Charles Simon.
begins at the top of a large mountain, and gathers momentum until it is
transformed into an avalanche.
If we wish to stop it, we need to act as
soon as possible.”
Among the distilleries named in the boycott are
Morrison Bowmore, Loch Lamond and Chivas Brothers.
produces the well-regarded Chivas, Glenlivet and Ballantine’s brands which are
the preferred spirits in many so-called “Kiddush clubs,” which gather following
services in some synagogues.
The decision by Rabbi Simon to urge FJMC
members to engage in a counter-boycott came after well known Israeli-Anglo
blogger and pro-settlement activist, Jameel Rashid, publicized on his website a
letter to several distilleries located within West Dunbartonshire. Rashid wrote:
“the global counterboycott of Scottish whiskey products, distilled in the West
Durbanshire council region, is beginning.”
Anglo-Israelis, an important
target market for purveyors of liquor here, have been circulating e-mails
calling on both Israeli and American Jews to cease consumption of Scotch
whiskey, and urging supporters of Israel to send copies of Rashid’s missive to
the distilleries in question.
When “your local council representatives
boycott my country – under the most unethical and immoral of pretext – you
cannot expect your market to sit idly and pretend you are not perverting
justice,” wrote Rashid.
Both Rashid, the pseudonym for an anonymous
Israeli who writes the popular Muqata blog, and the author of the widely read
website Israellycool, have posted the home phone numbers of local council
members, urging participants in the counter-boycott to call them to express
Explaining his rationale for the initiative, Rashid
stated that “its best to contact the whisky distillers directly, since the West
Dunbartonshire Council of Wise Men couldn’t care less what a pro-Israel,
proliberty, person might think... but they might listen to voices of their
constituents – specifically the Scotch whisky distilleries in their council’s
The boycott against Israel was initially introduced by the West
Dunbartonshire Council in response to what councilmen described as “the
disproportionate use of force used against Palestinians” during the IDF’s Gaza
incursion in 2009.
The council resolved that it “recognizes the
disproportionate force used by the IDF in Palestine and agrees to boycott all
Israeli goods as a consequence. Officers should immediately cease the purchase
of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel. Officers
should also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this
boycott is formally lifted by WDC.”
Replying to the council’s assertions,
Rashid excoriated the local representatives for whitewashing Hamas’ “barbarism”
– citing the use of hospitals, schools and Mosques as cover by Gaza
“Why was there an IDF operation in Gaza in the first place?
To oppress poor Palestinian Arabs? How would you deal with Gazas’ Arabs
targeting Scotland’s babies, other children, and other civilians. Have you not
seen the pictures of atrocities the Arabs have visited on innocent children, or
does your council not care?” Rashid, in an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post
that people have joined his counter-boycott from “all over” Israel and the
“The International Kiddush Club of America is giving us top billing
as well,” he added.
The West Dunbartonshire Council, while it has not
responded publically to calls endorsing a boycott of locally manufactured
spirits, has defended the decision which sparked the protest.
explained that it 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
Members of the council did not reply to requests
for comment about the whiskey boycott made by the Post
a spokeswoman for Morrison Bowmore Distillers, told the Post that “Neither
Morrison Bowmore Distillery nor Auchentoshan take any political stance, and this
policy has been made independently from us, and without our
Kirsteen highlighted Auchentoshan’s efforts to reach out
to the Jewish community and its connections to the London Rabbinical court. She
stated that she is forwarding all e-mails received to the council to “ensure it
is made fully aware of the potential implications of its policy.”
Sakol, the deputy director of the Zionist Federation of the UK, commented that
“Whilst not from West Dunbartonshire, this makes me ashamed to call myself
Scottish, and I truly hope those involved will reverse their action.”