Posted: 5/24/2011 10:11:00 AM
Author: Paul Gilbride
Source: This article originally appeared in UK News of May 21, 2011.

Saturday May 21,2011
by Paul Gilbride, Scottish Political Reporter

A SCOTTISH council has sparked outrage after banning books as part of a politically-motivated boycott on goods from Israel which critics have described as “a grossly insensitive insult”.

SNP-led West Dunbartonshire Council has ordered that its libraries ban any new volumes by Israeli authors, printed or published in the Jewish state.

It follows an earlier decision by the local authority to boycott Israeli goods and produce as part of a pro-Palestinian display.

Now, it has emerged the areas’ libraries have been told not to stock any new books from Israel.

But a similar boycott move by Dundee City Council has had to be abandoned because legal experts advised such a move is illegal under EU law.

Several left-wing councils in Scotland have looked at banning Israeli products and services but almost all have rejected it.

"I find this pretty deplorable, it’s anti-knowledge" said
Labour MSP Ken McIntosh

Last night, the move was condemned by a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy.

Press attaché, Amir Oftek also made reference to the infamous events of May 10, 1933, when, encouraged by Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, crowds in Berlin burnt 25,000 books by leading Jewish authors and academics.

He said: “This must be the only organisation in the 21st century which is still banning books. Not only does it close down debate but for many Jews and others who wish to contribute to the peace process in the Middle East this is grossly insensitive.

“What happened in Europe in the 1930s should be a warning to us all. Where will this end? By burning books again?”

A spokesman for Scottish local authority umbrella group Cosla said such actions were “a matter for individual councils”.

Labour MSP and the party’s newly-appointed Culture and External Affairs spokesman, Ken McIntosh said the council’s ban was “deplorable”.

He said: “This is not just anti-Israel, it is anti-knowledge. While everybody, including councils have the right to express opinions, this simply smacks of a closed minds and actually shuts down debate. I find the move pretty deplorable.

“This reflects not so much on Israel, but on West Dunbartonshire Council.”

Yesterday, a West Dunbartonshire Council spokesman said: “Our boycott does not in any way seek to censor or silence authors and commentators from Israel. It is not retrospective and absolutely no books have been or will be removed from libraries.

“This boycott would only ever apply to books printed in Israel. Ten Scottish Councils responded to our request to join the boycott. These responses either pledged to discuss the matter further, noted the motion, or stated they were unable to support it. It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on why Dundee came to the conclusion the passing of this motion was unlawful.”

Earlier this week, West Dunbartonshire emerged as the worst unemployment blackspot in the UK. More than 40 people in the area, which takes in Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven, chased every vacancy in March when there were 3,786 people out of work and 94 vacancies.