Seventy-eight years after Joseph Goebbels consigned the works of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaser, and Erich Kastner to the flames, a regional council in Scotland has approved a disturbing law that will ban newly published Israeli books from public libraries in West Dunbartonshire. These include books written by Israeli authors, as well as translations of novels produced in Israel.
The large Scottish city of Dundee also joined West Dunbartonshire (though to avoid potential lawsuits, the city won’t technically enforce the boycott). Instead, Dundee officials will hang posters throughout the city, asking residents to refrain from purchasing Israeli products. According to Ynet, the city will also “apply a special mark on Israeli products, in order to make them easily identifiable.”
By banning books, the boycott movement reveals itself for what it actually is. It’s not a campaign to pressure the Israeli government economically. It’s a campaign to isolate and dehumanize the Israeli people, including its artists, writers, and intellectuals. This is aimed at ultimately creating a culture of resentment and hatred for the Jewish state, and all of its citizens.
“A place that boycotts books is not far from a place that burns them,” said Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Prosor is right. The two forms of censorship are frighteningly close. And as the German writer Heinrich Heine presciently noted a century before the Holocaust, “where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.”