Update: Title of post changed to reflect fact this is no longer a question.
You will recall I posted about some correspondence I had with one of the councillors of Scotland’s West Dunbartonshire Council, which has banned books from Israel. The councillor in question, Lawrence O’Neill, promised to bring up the issue at a council meeting last week, but despite my repeated emails to him asking for an update, I have received no response from him.
But this is nothing compared to the responses I have received from someone purporting to be another councillor, Jim McElhill. He has posted a number of comments on this blog, ranging from juevenile to insulting.
When commenter Jameel suggested we boycott Scottish Whiskeys from the West Dunbartonshire region, the commenter responded:
Will you then stop using the telephone and television both of which were pioneered in Dunbartonshire?
When another commenter disputed this:
telephone was invented simultaneously in America by a man named Elisha Gray…Bell was just lucky in that he got his version to the US patent office first. They fought huge legal battles in the decades to come. Don’t take credit you do not entirely deserve. Also, I would like to see you boycott the intel chip, any sort of Instant messaging technology, the cherry tomato, and USB flash drives, all of which were pioneered in Israel.
..the commenter composed this reply, which sounded more like it came from a fourth grader (who wasn’t paying attention during English class)
I dont like cherry tomatoes although my good lady loves them.
This isnt a beauty contest! I will end up embarrassing you!
There were more insulting comments, such as:
(It is pretty telling – and ironic – when you can’t even spell that word)
..and some vitriol directed towards me, such as:
I am allowed to post an email to the dummy of Israellycool?
Hi dummy of Isarelicool, Would you like to converse or are you the cowardly racist thug that I cxonsider you to be.
Tomorrow is no problem facsit guy.
Ach well. It’s bedtime for me racist dummy, I hope you wake up with even a modicum of humanity within your prejudiced self.
You will notice I posted someone “purporting to be” Jim McElhill, because there is a possibility it is not really him, and I do not feel like exposing myself to a potential lawsuit. But the person who left all these nasty comments has the following IP information:
Paisely does happen to be in West Dunbarton, Scotland, so this commenter could very well be Jim McElhill.
Hence the reason for my post. If this uneducated sounding commenter who has thrown petty insults my way and accused me of racism (solely because I took the council to task for banning books from Israel and encouraged people to contact them about it) is impersonating councillor Jim McElhill, this post will hopefully help make Mr McElhill aware of this.
And if this commenter is indeed Mr McElhill, this post will hopefully make his constituents aware of the kind of person representing them.
Update: I think it’s now fair to assume the real Jim McElhill has been commenting on this blog. Here is his response, sent to me via mail:
Thanks for your emails and I hope you don’t mind my responding to you in a collective fashion given the general nature of the subject. I have tried to respond to one Israeli terrorist who has been threatening me and my family but he uses a bogus email and I am not able to respond to him.
I initially decided not to respond to emails I had been receiving re the decision of West Dunbartonshire Council in January 2009 to boycott goods made in Israel and did so for several reasons.
Firstly, the attitude of many in some Friends of Israel blogs has been puerile and lacking all humanity to the point of being racist and fascist.
Secondly, I have noticed that whenever anyone has made an attempt to have a dialogue in those Friends of Israel blogs he is attacked as an anti-semitic, jew-hating fascist whose best friend is the “swastika under his sporran” and such like. Some friends of Israel, particularly in England, are clearly not averse to stereotypying and caricaturing a whole nation of people, which is rather ironic.
Thirdly, but not last , I simply want to point out some facts to you. And I do so as a conscientious and caring human being in the knowledge that said blogs and press and media are, in effect, informing children in Israel that Jewish books are being banned from libraries in Scotland and burnt on the streets of West Dunbartonshire. I therefore greatly empathise with any such Israeli children who might believe that to be the case due to misinformation from their elders and the psychological damage that these so-called elders are inflicting on their young minds.
A young mind is a young mind whether Israeli, Palestinian or Scottish. All have equal rights and worth without exception. That “We’re all Jock Tamson’s Bairns” isn’t just a phrase but a deep hearted feeling and I wish the people of Israel nothing but well.
It does though concern me that if the Friends of Israel, particularly in England, think that by attacking people for being Scottish is a good idea, then they lack something more than a basic education. Much of it has been putrid.
Another reason for my response is that despite your strong and somewhat colourful words, I am disappointed that human beings can think in such an insular and aggressive way against fellow human beings to the point of threatening violence against their family and children.
Shame on each and every one of you that has done so.
However, this response is not for bigots.
And just to point out for your own information. I have received emails condemning the decision of the Council and also in support of the Council’s decision , although very few in either way.
First, I should say that contrary to what a right wing English newspaper reported a couple of weeks ago, which has been repeated in the Israeli Press and in some of the Friends of Israel Blogs there was one Motion and only one Motion tabled at our Council meeting in January, 2009. This Motion was to boycott goods made in Israel.
It was not followed up by another later Motion to ban books. No second Motion occurred and those sources that suggest otherwise are inaccurate.
Anti-SNP Bias from Friends of Israel, particularly in England.
West Dunbartonshire Council comprises 22 elected councillors. When the vote was taken in January 2009 there were 9 SNP councillors, 9 Labour, 1 Scottish Socialist and three Independent councillors (no party affiliation). All 22 councillors agreed the Motion without dissent from anyone.
How anyone can interpret that as a specifically SNP inspired move, (As Friends of Israel do, particularly in England) can only be lead by their own prejudice.
Indeed, the Motion was actually tabled by the one Socialist councillor.
The Friends of Israel, peculiar to England, seem to have a more misinformed or dishonest agenda. (Perhaps the English wing are concerned that their lights will go out in England etc. when Scotland becomes Independent)
In local government, any councillor is entitled to table any Motion on any issue that he or she wants. He or she simply has to receive agreement from the Chief Legal Officer that the Motion is competent and legal and the Motion then appears on the Council agenda for a decision. No other councillor has a say on the matter.
No member of staff raises Motions but simply implement the policy of the Council as defined by the 22 elected councillors. Any attacks on members of staff is simply misdirected.
My preference is for Motions to the Council to be pertinent to the local community and in the interests of the local community, which is what, I believe, we are elected to do. However, occasionally Motions are tabled which are more of a national, pan-European or International interest, which in a sense does impact on the local community in some way or other.
Other examples of Councils discussing matters of an international nature is the participation of the UK in the invasion of Iraq. Many here consider that that invasion was illegal, was not sanctioned by the UN and that Tony Blair (The former UK Prime Minister) lied about it and should be tried in Court as a war criminal.
Perhaps a more pertinent example with the current boycott of Israeli goods is when Councils all over the country, including my own, agreed to boycott goods from South Africa when apartheid existed in that country and blacks were oppressed and inhumanely treated by a racist white regime.
It was, of course, a Motion against apartheid and not against white people world-wide and the more recent Motion by West Dunbartonshire Council was a Motion against Israeli Foreign Policy and Israeli aggression and not against Jewish folk world-wide or otherwise.
It has nothing to do with being anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish. Israeli folk and those closely associated with the Israeli State might understandably be offended by it, but it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and to claim otherwise is just plain wrong.
Any claims of anti-Semitism in West Dunbartonshire or Scotland is spurious and an appalling misrepresentation of the facts.
I say this because some in the Friends of Israel Movement, particularly in England, are claiming that it was an SNP inspired Motion when in fact it wasn‘t. Comments that we wear a “swastika under our sporrans” and that we are Nazi’s and Fascists is simply daft.
As I say, the Motion was tabled by a Scottish Socialist councillor and agreed by the entire 22-person Council, nine of which were SNP. I do, of course, assume that the average Israeli child has a better understanding of arithmatics than some in the Friends of Israel Blogs that I have had the misfortune to read.
However, why let the facts get in the way of a good story and the Friends of Israel movement, particularly in England, prefer to dress up the issue in an anti-SNP manner. And their anti-SNP sentiments in emails and blogs are very extreme to say the least.
On a slightly more personal note concerning question as to why West Dunbartonshire Council has not raised Motions on other areas of the world.
I hope the above explains the situations in that individual councillors and political groups raise Motions and not the Council as a whole. The Council makes a decision on all the Motions raised by councillors. No Motion has been tabled by a councillor on many of the areas of the world sometimes referred to, such as Darfur, but others have been. If an issue is raised we discuss it; if an issue is not raised we don’t discuss it.
Concerning additional suggestions that only Israel’s Foreign Policy has been raised by our Council because the people there-in are largely Jewish is simply wrong. I am not anti-Jewish, never have been and never will be. I also don’t believe for a second that any other member of West Dunbartonshire Council is anti-Semitic. Such an allegation is absolute nonsense.
The Nazi holocaust of Jewish folk in Europe turns my stomach and still makes me angry that human beings are capable of such an atrocity. We have very informative TV documentary coverage of that abomination and our children are educated about it. It is horror writ-large with no comparison in history.
It is also, my understanding that Jewish organisations in Scotland have no problem with anti-Semitism and that Jewish people here are as much valued as anyone else. We have not had a history of anti-Semitism throughout our history. Jewish folk were expelled from France and England and numerous other countries throughout history but never from Scotland. Leading Jewish figures here have said in the past that Scotland is a land free of anti-Jewish propaganda unlike no other in Europe.
I therefore find it sad that Scottish people are being portrayed by Friends of Israel, particularly in England, as being anti-Jewish when nothing could be further from the truth.
I very much distinguish between the State of Israel and Judaism.
Why then was the Motion raised at all?
In recent years the world has been horrified by some of the actions of Israeli foreign policy and at that time Israel was being condemned internationally. That’s why.
I had no idea until recently that the councillor who tabled the Motion was involved in a Palestinian organisation. However, in all honesty, had I known at the time, I would still have agreed with the Motion. His involvement with a Palestinian organisation might have inspired him to table the Motion but the actions of Israel at that time were unacceptable to me and they remain unacceptable in some aspects. They are unacceptable to most of the international community. It is this condemnation of the Israeli State’s foreign policy that is increasing; not simply anti-Semitism.
It is Israel, not Scotland, that is flouting International law and ignoring UN resolutions regarding Gaza and the West Bank. I am perfectly entitled to criticize bad foreign policy in Israel, just as I criticise some foreign policy decisions of the UK, USA, France, China and many of the Arab States whose attitude towards Israel is disgusting.
Religion plays no part in my decision-making on international events.
I do, however, notice that Barak Obama and Amnesty International, among others, are also being vilified by some of those Friends of Israel sites.
Of course, it goes without saying that no-one has denigrated Israel’s contribution to the world of science and literature and culture. Indeed, I am aware that Israel is at the forefront of many technologies that benefit your immediate neighbours and the world. Scotland too has produced a great many scientists, inventors, discoverers and literary giants. I don’t consider it all that important but the Friends of Israel seem to have expanded their anti-SNP prejudices, particularly in England, with a wider racist denigration of the entire Scottish nation. Apparently Scots only produce “whisky and haggis” to use one of the less offensive comments.
I’m not aware of anyone in West Dunbartonshire having a go at any political party in Israel and I’m not aware of anyone in West Dunbartonshire having a go at the entire Israeli nation. However, a great many Friends of Israel, particularly in England, are indeed being racist and using stereotypical words against all Scots that they would vitriolically oppose being used against themselves.
Such is hypocracy!
In conclusion. This Council decision was made in January 2009 and I‘m surprised that it became an issue in May, 2011. We had elections to our Scottish parliament in May and I suspect that British Nationalist forces were attempting to hold the UK together by portraying this decision as an SNP-led one, which it clearly wasn‘t. They obviously missed the bus.
In the event, the SNP secured a majority in the Scottish parliament. The first party ever to do so and we are heading for self-determination, and so yes, maybe we do naturally favour the underdog and the oppressed as they strive for self-determination for their nation. This has nothing whatsoever to do with religion and certainly isn’t anti Semitic. It is a view that all countries should have self-determination if they want it and that they should live in peace with their neighbours, and in that respect we have a lot of empathy with Israel.
Personally, I support self-determination for the Welsh, Irish, Basques, Catalans, Bretons, Tamils, Flemish, Walloons, and numerous others besides throughout the world. I do, however oppose any use of discrimination and violence against innocent people for any reason.
The Friends of Israel, particularly in England, should read the literature of the British National Party (BNP) and other English nationalist political parties. They will then see that these groups are indeed anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-Catholic and anti everyone else that isn’t a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) They should then compare that to Scottish National Party literature which abhors racism and sectarianism in any shape or form.
I do recognise the difficulties faced by Israel from so many Arab States on it’s borders. Their foreign policy towards Israel is disgraceful and doesn’t go unnoticed. I am glad that Israel exists and agree with international pressures that those Arab States drop their blind prejudice and violence.against Israel and Judaism. Such anti- Israel and anti-Jewishness makes my skin crawl.
However, I believe Israel too has a duty to honour international obligations as the main player in the Middle East. It’s actually not unusual for a country that has won a war to return “conquered” or “occupied” land to its previous owners. It should in fact be the norm.
This is now an international aspiration for Israel. To lead the peace process. When that is done maybe the next Motion presented by some councillor on West Dunbartonshire Council will be about Palestinian aggression towards Israel.
To date, I have not been inundated with emails and ‘phone calls. I know that our local newspaper will be covering the “story” in its next edition due to one councillor making mention of the same abusive comments on Friends of Israel Blogs, particularly from England, and emails received.
I am also aware of some behind the scenes activities at a high level which I wont further comment on safe to say that Scottish Jewish leaders have more sense and influence in their little finger than all the intolerant Friends of Israel blogs in England put together.
I also know that at our next Council meeting, the issue will almost certainly be raised again, which is unfortunate, two and a half years after the decision. I suspect the policy will be reiterated with a new vigour. I will certainly be speaking on it if it is raised and I will not be curtailed or bullied by anyone.
Maybe the so-called Friends of Israel in England should change their name to the anti-Scottish Friends of Israel although “Enemies of Israel” would better describe them given the damage they have sought to create to Israel by seeking to alienate one of Israel’s most loyal and respectful friends that is Scotland.
That said, I do genuinely wish you all the very best for the future as I do Israel , Palestine and the Middle East.
I am happy to respond to any of your emails to further clarify any outstanding matters, but I wont accept any sectarian or racist comments.
Update: This post is now the fourth result for the Google search ‘Jim McElhill.’ So anyone wanting to find out more about their councillor and how he reacts to any kind of opposition can find out rather easily.
Update: Sad fact from this page on the barely literate councillor:
Having previously held a number of positions over the years, he is currently the Council’s spokesperson for Environmental Services and Economic Development, Vice Convener of the Housing, Environment and Economic Development Committee, and Vice Convener of Education & Life Long Learning.