The Scottish councillor at the centre of the furore caused by recent reports that, as part of its Israel boycott, it was banning books by Israeli authors, has issued an unprecedented video on his website, refuting these claims.
Cllr McColl also described personal abuse that he had received by phone and email and on Twitter.
He also described as ridiculous a blog which may have been mine, and certainly contained the information which I posted on Sunday.
As a reminder, here is the notice that WDC put out on their website in response to the attention they were receiving from those opposed to their policy.
West Dunbartonshire Council utterly refutes 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.
In the two and a half years the boycott has been in place there has never been a case when the library service has been unable to purchase a book it wished to as a result of this boycott.
Contrary also to some media reports the boycott is not retrospective and absolutely no books have been or will be removed from our library shelves as a consequence of the motion.
West Dunbartonshire Councillors voted to introduce the boycott in 2009.
The full motion is:
‘This Council deplores the loss of life in Palestine which now numbers well over 1,000. This Council also recognises 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.’
So the book thing seems to be a red herring.
It all boils down to the decision taken two and half years ago during Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2008-9) that Israel used disproportionate force and killed 1000 people. As a result of this, they decided unanimously at a council meeting to ban the purchase by the council of all products from Israel.
There is a special page on the councillor’s website here: http://www.cllrjmccoll.info/israel.html with the video embedded at the top.
It is also found on YouTube and I’ll embed the two videos below.
There is also a statement by Cllr McColl on his web page, which I’ll also reproduce, as it includes more detail on the council’s motivations at the time which are, apparently, still in place two years after the event. Note that this is a ‘Personal Statement’ by the councillor with my annotations interpolated.
The following is intended to answer a number of questions that have been asked and assertions made in emails etc…
This boycott was not made at the request, suggestion or upon reading a pamphlet from any Anti-Israeli or Pro-Palestinian group.
This boycott was in response to and in support of international media coverage two years ago by the BBC, AP, CNN, SKY, REUTERS which showed Israeli forced murdering innocent women and children and firing rockets at civilian targets.
To say that Israelis were murdering innocent women and children is a blood-libel against the IDF which is without foundation. Although it can be argued that there were incidents where innocents died due to mistakes by the IDF, to use the word ‘murder’ is unconscionable and unfounded.
The charge of deliberately firing rockets at civilian targets was made by the Goldstone Report and refuted by an IDF report.
The councillors reliance on reports from the BBC, AP and Reuters et alia is touching; but these organisations were seriously biased in their reporting at the time and swallowed Hamas’ narrative and propaganda.
The Goldstone Report has now been seriously compromised by its author’s somewhat equivocal quasi-retraction.
Far from being ‘murderers’ which is the Hamas/Far Left accusation, Col Richard Kemp told the UN that no other army in history had done more to protect civilians.
Why did WDC rush to judgement in 2009 and why have they not re-evaluated this motion in light of new evidence?
It is enlightening to note that the original motion was tabled by Cllr Jim Bollan of the Scottish Socialist Party and his blog sports a Red Flag and an image of Lenin. He is a former member of the Scottish Communist Party. So we know where he is coming from.
Yet the entire council was minded, as one, to declare the boycott in 2009.
I have never seen, read or heard any material from Pro-Palestinian or Anti-Israeli groups and I would put little stock in either. I get my information from reputable, recognised sources.
Yet he was prepared to vote for for Cllr Bollan’s motion who is a signatory of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s appeal for funding of its BDS campaign (http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3631:scottish-psc-financial-appeal&catid=257&Itemid=200079)
Hamas’ use of hospitals and other civilian buildings (and indeed civilians themselves) as human shields is utterly despicable, but that does not give the Israeli Government the right to kill those unfortunate enough to be used by this terrorist organisation.
So according to Cllr McColl it is Israel who is responsible for the deaths of human shields and not Hamas; Israel cannot defend itself, therefore, and must acquiesce to the tactics of real murderers, namely Hamas.
This is also to ignore the extraordinary lengths that the IDF went to to minimise casualties.
We have recently seen dozens of human shield civilians killed by Nato bombs in Afghanistan. Civilians have been killed by Nato in Libya. Is the Cllr suggesting that Israel’s actions were more reprehensible than Nato’s or were they both operating against an immoral and ruthless enemy that cared less for its own citizens than Israel and Nato?
West Dunbartonshire Council remains committed to our boycott of Israeli goods and our resolve has only been strengthened by the torrent of vile abuse threats of violence against our families that has come from people who claim to be peace loving people.
So the main reason for continuing the boycott against an entire country is anger at threats made by that country’s misguided supporters.
There is a certain air of malice in this paragraph. It is Cllr McColl and his colleagues who are now the victims and they are well and truly p***d off.
Whilst I utterly deplore personal threats, especially to children, and name-calling, maybe this brief unseemly episode will give the councillor and his colleagues some idea of what it is like to have your children threatened daily by Kassam rockets rather than words, and what it’s like for Israelis to be accused of being Nazis constantly by Palestinians, their supporters and the Left wing politicians who are responsible for the sort of boycott they are supporting.
This is not an anti-Semitic act.
I don’t care whether you are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic or any other such label you might want to give someone. We are all members of the human race and we should all stand together in asking the Israeli Government to think again about their methods.
How noble. What we should all be standing together doing is condemning Hamas’ rockets and their charter which seeks the destruction of the State of Israel and all Jews – that’s anti-Semitism, councillor.
And where are your noble moral principles when it comes to motions against Libya, Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe, Sudan, China; I could go on.
If you have moral principles, why are they so uniquely selective against one state.
Even if I were to concede all the accusations against Israel were true, that would still not justify your singling out of one country.
You say it’s a symbolic act. No-one believes, of course, that Israel cares about the purchasing habits of one Scottish council, but by joining the BDS movement on the Palestinian side, this takes your act beyond symbolism and into the camp of the demonisers and delegitimisers.
Thus, WDC stands shoulder to shoulder with Hamas, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and every other Israel hater and boycotter in Scotland and beyond. Nice one councillor.
I agree that the Israel Government has the right and responsibility to defend their people, but I do not agree that this should come at such a high cost. They need to think again.
The definition of ‘proportionality’ as a casualty numbers game is absurd.WDC need a lesson in international law and the laws of armed conflict. These laws do not describe warfare as a zero sum game or a boxing match.
In fact, the proportion of combatant to non-combatant deaths in Operation Cast Lead was far lower than any other conflict in recent times; and that includes Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering the conditions, and the blatant disregard for life by Hamas, the ratio is extraordinary. Extraordinarily low, that is.
I’m sure the Israeli government (which is not the one which initiated Cast Lead, by the way) would love to hear from Councillor McColl and his colleagues some ideas about how they can stop a murderous, Islamofascist enemy from firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and civilians (a war crime), firing RPG’s at school buses and kidnapping soldiers.
And how they can do this without killing civilians.
And whilst they are giving the Israeli government the benefit of their great experience in warfare and the laws of proportionality, maybe they can let them know what would be proportional; how many deaths would have been ‘proportional’ then? Or would 1000 Israelis have had to die for WDC to deny the motion before the council in 2009?
That assumption on your part says more about you than it does about me. To quote a Jewish woman from Glasgow who telephoned me on this issue,
“We are brought up in a culture of ‘poor wee us’, automatically thinking that the world is against us and perhaps we should take stock of that before we draw conclusions about other people’s motivations.”
Ah, playing the sympathtic Jew card now. We are all paranoid that the world is against us. This distorts our moral compass. This is why the Israelis/Jews feel justified in massacring innocents. Yada, yada.
No, we are not paranoid, we see the torrent of delegitimisation and demonisation against the State of Israel that WDC are now taking part in.
Such suggestions are inherently anti-Semitic even if unconsciously.
The reason the Council discussed this matter was because it was raised by an individual Councillor as a private member’s motion.
You’d have to ask Cllr Jim Bollan what his personal motivations were for bringing this forward, but I do not believe him to be racist. I have never found him to talk down or discriminate against anyone.
Now just passing the buck. Didn’t Cllr McColl vote for this? What does Cllr Bollan’s motivation matter. What were Cllr McColl’s motivations? Herd mentality?
It is not normal for issues of International significance to be brought before Council my individual members. Our main function is to govern our small local area and provide Education and Social Care services as well at things like refuse collection and recycling.
Main function’? Sole function, surely. Would Cllr McColl expect Eshkol Regional Council in Israel to pass a motion banning Scottish goods if it were outraged by the actions of the Black Watch in Iraq? They would tell them to mind their own business.
We do on occasions hear motions from members of this type, although never before a boycott. For example, the Council has condemned the actions of China, Burmha [sic] and various other places and has twice since 2007 been successful in aiding Amnesty Internation [sic] to free political prisoners from such countries.
Yet more nobility. But how pathetic. Why not boycott China for its civil rights abuses, jailing dissidents, executing thousands, destroying Tibetan culture. Similarly Burma. And if you are going to say that WDC do not buy from Burma, well, how about another symbolic gesture?
Singling out Israel is immoral.
All I ask is that when you read this and other responses you might get from our Councillors, that you look at this issue objectively and try to see this from our point of view.
Er, yes – you feel that it is your duty to boycott one country and not the dozens of others whose actions are much worse and don’t have a neighbour lobbing missiles at them on a daily basis.
My Great Grandfather fought in WWII and was awarded the highest decoration an enlisted man can get in the British Army for his bravery on the battlefield in the fight against Hitler’s Nazis and being compared to such evil people is not only extremely hurtful, but the first time I read one of these emails, I was physically sick.
If you are one of the many many people who have been sending vile emails, please…I urge you to take a step back and consider your position from our point of view.
Well, I’ve covered this. Maybe Cllr McColl’s great grandfather fought in WWII and I honour and respect his memory and all those who fought against Nazism. The Councillor may recall that many Israelis’ grandparents and great grandparents and other relatives were murdered by the Nazis. The Councillor’s disgust does not excuse his support of a motion to boycott just one country above all others. Maybe his illustrious forbear would have had his own views on his great grandson’s judgement in this matter.
Any further threatening email received will be forwarded to the police.
So, in summary this whole matter is sheer hypocrisy. Only Israel is subjected to this default role as murderous aggressor despite the truth being the very opposite.
Oh yes, innocents died and mistakes were made. Tell me one army that doesn’t do so, especially given the circumstances.
It is the sheer arrogance and self-righteous indignation of this council which really stands out.
An indignation it accords to no other country in the same degree.
And WDC actually encourages the spread of its anti-Israel stance based on the reports of credulous journalists and the propaganda of terrorists.
It makes ME physically sick.