Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Banks of the Clyde

On 11th May, on this blog, I discussed boycotts, based round a university boycotting Tony Kushner because of his views on Israel. Now there is a more serious issue. According to an article in the Jewish Chronicle on May 21st "books by Israeli writers could be removed from Scottish libraries" as a result of West Dumbartonshire Council (hands up all those who can list any town covered by WDC!) passing a "boycott" resolution. The paper was not exactly first with the news here since the Council passed the boycott resolution in 2009, but never mind. Following that article the Scottish Daily Express, owned by the pornographer Richard Desmond, quotes someone from the Israeli Embassy comparing the Council to Joseph Goebbels burning books by Jewish authors. Well, if true it would certainly make a change from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Championship at the Council's Loch Lomond Festival. It gets worse; the Pipe Band lovers' plans became (Jerusalem Post) a wave of censorship that had spread all over Scotland while the Israel YNet News Service said bookshops too were subject to such censorship. The outgoing Israeli Ambassador, Ron Prosser, thought that a wave of book burning could erupt. Well, it could, though perhaps not immediately as the next activity on the WDC website is the Vale of Leven Fun Run so they will be a wee bit busy for a while. Prosser said that "A place that boycotts books isn't far from a place that burns them". Oddly enough he did not take issue with Jonathan Hoffman of the (British) Zionist Federation who called for a boycott of this year's entire Jewish Book Week because one of the many events featured one Israeli writer whose views he did not share.

Anyway, two and a half years after passing a policy saying the Council would not buy goods "made or grown in Israel", which presumably means you can't buy an Israeli date with your bottle of Irn Bru in the Council canteen, we're talking about book burning. Only, in that time no books have been withdrawn from stock; the Council continues to buy books written by Israeli or Jewish writers and bookshops are awash with The Hare with Amber Eyes. Libraries and bookshops will continue to stock books by Israeli and Jewish writers. Easy to check on that - that Council, for example, has its entire library catalogue on line. Perhaps the critics could have spent a minute on that interweb thing before getting overexcited. They could have found that WDC stocks 276 books of Jewish interest, including many by Israeli writers. Rather a healthy number I would have thought, given the tiny number of Jews and less Israelis likely to be living in the area. I should point out, because I have checked the catalogue, that my fellow deep-fried Mars Bar eaters from WDC do appear, however, to be boycotting (or, rather, not have many) Five Leaves' books by Jewish and non-Jewish writers. Now that is the serious issue.


jdavid said...

I might have to correct you there, Ross, in that WDL do stock a copy of The Credit Draper (although not the Five Leaves edition). I believe your edition plus Celia are on order with them too. I also understand that I am presently under consideration for an invite to their book festival in the autumn. It will be interesting to see if they end up inviting me - and if they do, should I tell them my next novel is set in 1920s Palestine!

jdavid said...

Correction - I read your blog too quickly - I notice now you said 'not many' books rather than 'boycotting all books' by Five Leaves writers.

Ross Bradshaw said...

Thanks. I did notice that they had the first edition of The Credit Draper but not ours, or the new Liberation of Celia Kahn. I'm pleased that they will be stocking up. You should def. tell them you are working on a novel set in Palestine in the 1920s. If we could only organise that the Zionist Federation and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign would both announce a boycott of that book it could sell really well.