Dear FJMC Supporters,
Last week I expressed my concern about the Dunbartonshire Council boycott and suggested a similar response. Since then a great deal has occurred. The statement went viral. Commentary Magazine and the Israeli press also picked up this issue. The links are attached.
A number of people wrote directly to the companies involved. Two of their responses follow. In each instance separate letters (e-mails) were sent to the Dunbartonshire Council expressing concern about their actions. You made a difference.
Your letters are placing pressure on the West Dunbartonshire Council to reconsider their actions. Those of you who wrote to the Council directly and received responses learned the extent of their naïveté. Please continue to write to Council members directly and attempt to influence them to revisit their policy. They control £249mmillion pounds in funds. Please continue to write to the distributors and encourage them to educate and lobby the Council as well. The issue is not about drinking Scotch it is about changing Council policy.
I have been in contact with the leadership of Chivas and Morrison Bowmore in Scotland and the U.S. They are strong supporters of the Jewish community. Their cooperation, forwarding our letters to the Council and directly contacting Council members, continues to be helpful. I would hate to have their good efforts penalized. We have heard from all of the distributers on the original list with the exception of Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond bottles their own brand and Scots Earl and Distillery Select. They are located in Dunbartonshire. They can be contacted at:email@example.com.
I am grateful to our International Kiddush Club www for bringing this matter to our attention. The Kiddush club provides the FJMC with needed funds to send tefillin and mezuzot to developing and needy congregations in Europe, the FSU, Central and Latin America. For more information go to their website, www.kiddushclub.org.
Thank you for your support. The letters and links follow: Shalom,
Rabbi Charles Simon
Letters received by FJMC
I've contacted MEP Struan Stevenson (a personal friend and Scottish Conservative Party leader) about this and his staff is asking the EU Human Rights commission to check whether the boycott might be a violation of the EU's charter on the right to free speech/publications.
Your campaign should be assertively applied.
Kol HaKavod Lekha. <name withheld>
Dear fine distillers,
I usually write my own letters, but after reading the letter below, I thought it would be hard to improve on it, so please consider it as part of my communication. I am greatly distressed by the West Dunbartonshire Council's action in voting to boycott products made in Israel. First of all, they are wrong about Israel. The problem is not that Israel won't let the Arabs have a state; it is that the Arabs won't let the Jews have a state. Jameel Rashid goes into this in wonderful detail. I hope you study his letter.
Boycotts are not appropriate. Rashid has called for a boycott of your products, because your council has called for a boycott of Israel's products. I have no doubt that if your sales fell and your employees lost their jobs or you were forced to close you would think that wrong. I would agree with you. But how can I enjoy whiskey made by your distilleries? Although I am American, not Israeli, I know Israel has been among the most humane nations of any in the world. Been there, seen that. I support Israel. If you boycott them, boycott me, too. Don't let me buy your whiskey.
I urge you to insist your elected officials become more educated about what is really happening in Israel and the Palestinian ruled territories, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. I have no doubt that if they took the time to rely on, unblinded by bigotry, they would revoke this hateful and groundless resolution. Or I will have to learn to like bourbon.
Best regards, John <name withheld>
Sent: 02 June 2011 21:13
To: Policy Unit; Business Support; Education Central Registry; Elections;Trading Standards Cc: Tricia.Marwick.firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject:
Re: Bad Policy - BDS campaign (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions"
Dear Policy Board,
I was truly dismayed to read that the West Dunbartonshire Council in Scotland has decided to participate in the BDS campaign (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) againstIsrael has come to my attention Israel. Your position is sadly one-sided, and fails to recognize the targeting of innocent civilians by the Palestinians. The Palestinians have consistently targeted non-combatants by launching over 12,000 rockets at civilian targets (including public schools). They continue to educate their children to hate Jews. They use children's books that glorify Jihad and martyrdom in their schools. Hamas is not interested in peace, but they are committed to terrorism and Israel's destruction. In fact, their charter calls for the obliteration of Israel and says, "Kill Jews wherever you find them." They are a people that take pride in naming their public squares after terrorists.
Open your eyes and stifle your anti-Semitic outlook. The Palestinians strive for the death of Israel and the Jewish People.
I enjoy several of your fine whiskey but sadly will have to switch brands as I join in the counter-boycott of your products - because you feel that boycotting Israel is an appropriate response to their self defense efforts. I agree with the letter writer below, that if Scotland had received over 7000 rockets fired into the country with the goal of killing civilians, you'd have a different response than condemning the victim. Israel has made some mistakes no doubt but when the stated goal of Hamas is the destruction of Israel and death to all Jews worldwide (and actively working for that goal), you give yourselves black eyes suggesting a boycott of Israeli products. Hopefully if any of you need some of the many Israeli medical devices they've developed and shared with the world, you'll personally honor your boycott and make do without. In the meantime, for me, I guess no more Jameson's, Glenlivet or Chivas until you publicly retract the announcement of your boycott.
<name withheld> Anchorage, Alaska
Response from West Dunbartonshire Council
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 5:27 AM
To: <name withheld>Subject:
Re: FW: Bad Policy - BDS campaign (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions"
Dear Mr <name withheld>:
Please find attached statement issued by West Dunbartonshire Council: Over recent days there has been some highly misleading publicity in the national and international press concerning West Dunbartonshire Council's policy on the boycott of Israeli goods. In light of this publicity, the Council has received a number of complaints.
The facts are as follows.
The boycott on the purchase of Israeli goods followed a unanimous decision of West Dunbartonshire Council in January 2009. The boycott was in response to the Israeli state's policy and actions in the Occupied Territories . The boycott was not retrospective and applied only to purchases made from January 2009 onwards. The boycott has not prevented West Dunbartonshire 's library service from purchasing any book which it wished to purchase.
Accusations that Israeli books have been removed from the shelves of the West Dunbartonshire 's libraries or have been burned are entirely false and appear to be mischievously motivated. There are books by Israeli authors on the shelves of West Dunbartonshire Council's libraries. Attempts to depict this boycott as racist are also entirely inaccurate. The boycott was instigated in response to conduct by the Israeli state and applies to no specific ethnic or religious group. The Council has robust anti-racist and anti-sectarian policies and procedures.
I trust this information is helpful to you. Natasha BrooksCustomer Relations Officer
Responses from Scotch Distillers
Dear <name withheld>,
We have received your email regarding West Dunbartonshire Council's boycott of Israeli products and your views on this decision. Neither Morrison Bowmore Distillery nor Auchentoshan take any political stance and this policy has been made independently from us and without our consultation.
Auchentoshan has invested significantly in working with its many friends and supporters around the world, including the Jewish community and the Kosher London Beth Din, where we recently certified our Auchentoshan Classic as a Kosher Single Malt Whisky. As a business we recognise the concerns you have expressed regarding this policy. We are forwarding your email and separately writing to the West Dunbartonshire Council to ensure it is made fully aware of the potential implications of its policy. As a valued friend of Auchentoshan we would very much appreciate your continued support.
KIRSTEEN BEESTONHead of Brands Marketing
Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd
Dear Rabbi Simon:
I wanted to thank you on behalf of Chivas Brothers and its sister company, Pernod Ricard USA, since we had not been aware of this issue. Please be assured that the West Dunbartonshire Council does not represent the views of Chivas Brothers and Pernod Ricard USA. Pernod Ricard USA is a long and proud supporter of several leading Jewish causes, including the UJA Federation of New York, which has worked for decades to improve the quality of life for millions of Israelis.
While some Chivas Brothers brands are bottled in Dunbarton, none of its whiskies are distilled in this region and both The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal are bottled at their site in Paisley and not Dunbarton. Also, Jameson, Paddy and Powers whiskies are produced in Ireland and are not products of Chivas Brothers.
Thanks again for sharing your concerns with us and we hope that this makes it clear that Chivas Brothers is not associated with the views attributed to the West Dunbartonshire Council. We have passed on your correspondence on this subject to the Council so they are fully aware of the potential implications of their policy. We respectfully ask that you pass on this correspondence to your mailing list, so they understand our position.
VP, Corporate Communications, Pernod Ricard USA