The Shmooze

Jewish Men’s Clubs Boycott Scotch Whisky

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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You know things are serious when Kiddush clubs are willing to give up their scotch.

The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, an affiliate of the Conservative movement, has called upon its North American members (250 clubs; 25,000 individual members) to boycott scotch whisky made in distilleries located in West Dunbartonshire in Scotland.

Among the distilleries in West Dunbartonshire included in the boycott are Morrison Bowmore, Loch Lamond and Chivas Brothers — the latter known for its premium Chivas, Glenlivet and Ballantine’s labels.

FJMC is calling for the boycott in retaliation for the West Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to boycott Israeli goods in response to “the disproportionate use of force used against Palestinians” during the IDF’s Gaza incursion (Operation Cast Lead) in 2009. The WDC resolved to “immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel…[and] also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this boycott is formally lifted by WDC.”

The boycott apparently includes books imported from Israel. The WDC claims it is not censoring Israeli books or authors, because most books by Israeli authors or about Israel consumed in West Dunbartonshire are printed in the UK and, therefore, not subject to the boycott.

The counter-boycott, now joined by FJMC, picked up steam in late May when an Anglo-Israeli blogger using the pseudonym Jameel Rashid of “The Muqata” blog, together with an anonymous Australian immigrant to Israel who writes the “Israellycool” website (both pro-settlement Right-wingers) encouraged readers to stop buying scotch from West Dunbartonshire. They also published the contact information for members of the WDC so readers could be in touch with them to personally tell them what they thought of the anti-Israel boycott.

The Jerusalem Post reports that when it contacted the Morrison Bowmore Distillers, it was told by a distillery spokeswoman that, “Neither Morrison Bowmore Distillery nor Auchentoshan [its triple distilled single malt whiskey brand] take any political stance, and this policy has been made independently from us, and without our consultation.”

Boycott or counter-boycott, it is unlikely that Kiddush clubs are going to be going completely dry. As uncomfortable as all this anti-Israel activity may be for many, vodka and schnapps distillers will be feeling no pain.


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