- Published on Monday, 21 July 2014 07:27
TODAY marks the 14th day that Israel launched a series of attacks on Gaza which they call ‘Operation Protective Edge’. At the time of writing there have been 343 Palestinian casualties while another 2,600 injured. The number consists largely of civilians and also children. On the Israeli side there has only been five casualties.
As a matter of fact, Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine can be construed as a crime in itself. In order to understand the situation further, I invite you to take a look at this short six-minute video below, which was created by the group ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’. Yes, you read that right, Jewish. As you read on, you’ll find out that even Jewish people object to Zionis-Israel.
With one war crime after another being committed by this apartheid regime, the global population has joined in unison in a proclamation against Israel. Calls for ‘Boycott Israel’ can be heard throughout the world and this, of course, includes our beloved country of Malaysia.
However it seems that some in the country would disagree. Youth And Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin seems to be one of them. This week, he insisted that the act of boycotting products was in fact irrational. He said it was tough to determine if a certain product was in fact from Israel.
Khairy added that the act of boycotting might only hurt Malaysians instead. “For instance, when some people say Nestlé is an Israeli product, (but) it is actually manufactured by its factory in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan (and) if we boycott it, people there may end up losing their jobs. That is why we must think first before boycotting,” the Umno Youth Minister said.
“It is not Israelis who will feel the impact of this boycott. It is our workers that will pay the price. Unless a company is clearly supporting Israel,” Khairy added.
In response to Khairy’s views, Malaysian Digest contacted Dr. Hafidzi Mohd Noor, director of PACE (Palestine Centre for Excellence). PACE is the research and development arm of Aqsa Syarif and is a non-political and non-profit making body which conducts strategic and futuristic studies on the Arab and Muslim worlds (with an emphasis on Palestine).
“When talking about boycott, we, first of all, need to make clear of the entity which we are boycotting and how we are going to conduct that process. When we campaign to the public, we ask them to steer themselves clear from any products and services which are known to give support to Israel,” says Dr. Hafidzi.
This UKM lecturer explains that the targets of the campaign are not the individual companies, but in fact the target is actually Israel. “However, because these companies contribute to Israel’s economy, we have asked the public to boycott them. At the same time we ask the companies to stop their support to the country. We want these companies to join the civil society and the international people in not supporting Israel.”
He also clarifies that the campaign is not a ‘Boycott Jewish’ or ‘Boycott USA’ campaign. In fact he reveals there are plenty of Jewish people that oppose the Zionist state of Israel. “There is a difference between Jewish and Zionis. We do not boycott a company because they are Jewish; we boycott them because they support Israel. If the company that supports them are Christians or even Muslims, we will boycott them too. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not a religious issue, it is a humanity issue.”
Is Boycott Effective?
“Boycotting is actually a war strategy,” says Dr. Hafidzi, before adding “The modern day war is no longer just about weapons. Our war with the Zionists is a ‘total war’; it includes factors like economy, politics, social, culture, and education. Today we can see Zionists having control over the world. Even the United Nations is powerless in enforcing their resolutions upon Israel. They are protected by the United States which have veto power to overturn any security resolutions. Boycotting is the most effective weapon in going to war with Israel’s economy.”
To add to his argument, he also points to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa as proof that boycotting is an effective method. “If we want further evidence of its effectiveness, we need not look any further than to Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He recently said that these boycotts will cause major problems to Israel,” Dr. Hafidzi said referring to Netanyahu’s speech in New York earlier this year. The speech confirms concerns from a few Israel cabinet ministers including from Yair Lapid, its Minister of Justice. Lapid had estimated that Israel will face a loss in the region of USD5.7 billion if the boycotts continued.
“These boycotts are not only conducted by Muslim countries or the countries who have problems with Israel, but we can see that it is in fact a global boycott. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not a religious conflict but a humanity conflict. Today we can see the majority of the world on Palestine’s side even after the bias reporting by the media. The international people now know the true reality of what’s going on,” says Dr. Hafidzi, who hold a PhD in Zoology.
He continues by saying the most effective boycott has been conducted in the west, especially in the US. Global campaigns such as Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycottt, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement is testimony to this. The Norweigian government announced in August 2010 that based on advice from the Norwegian Council on Ethics, it had excluded two Israeli companies from a government pension fund. A few banks and industries in Europe such as Danske Banke (Ireland), Nordea Bank (Sweden), Vitens (Holland), and many others have withdrawn their investments from Israel. Even religious bodies such as The Church of England synod has voted for disinvestment from Israel
“Further proof of the boycott’s effectiveness can be seen with the company Caterpillar Inc. They eventually had to move their operations away from the West Bank after being boycotted. There are plenty more examples of its effectiveness which also the boycotts to Alstom and Motorola,” added Dr. Hafidzi.
But what about concerns like those expressed by Khairy Jamaludin? Will Malaysian workers truly be the ones to suffer?
Dr. Hafidzi has this to answer: “As mentioned earlier, the target of the boycotts are not the companies, but Israel (itself). We want these companies to withdraw their support to Israel and after that we can continue using their products. If it is true that it might hurt our economy, maybe that is what we have to accept in order to achieve a bigger objective. That is why we target multinational companies such as McDonalds, which have thousands of outlets around the world. Each of these outlets contributes to their parent company in the US. These companies among them have received ‘Friends of Israel’ awards for their huge contributions to Israel’s economy.”
He even added that from Islam’s point of view, Muslim workers of these companies need not resign from their positions.
“They can continue working there. But they need to have an initiative to find another job with pays that is equal or more than what they currently receive.”
Positive repercussion, of course, can come out of this scenario. By boycotting these companies, local products may get a chance to shine and this helps our economy too.
The Big Four
The Islamic group Inminds, which is based in the UK has done thorough research on the companies that contribute to Israel. Naturally, it is not blind boycotting. Only the ones proven to be linked to Israel are targeted.
But Dr. Hafidzi says the campaign is mostly focused on four big companies – McDonalds, Nestle, L’Oreal, and Coca-Cola. “Why haven’t we focused on companies such as Starbucks which has been proven to support Israel too? It is because we see them as a high-end product; a product for those with higher incomes. We focus on consumer products which are more accessible to the masses like the big-four mentioned. If the people want to add other companies to list they boycott, it is up to them if they are capable.”
According to the Chicago Jewish Community Online (website of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago), McDonalds Corporation whose global headquarters is based just outside Chicago is a major corporate partner of the Jewish United Fund (JUF) and Jewish Federation(2002) .
Through its Israel Commission, the Jewish United Fund "works to maintain American military, economic and diplomatic support for Israel; monitors and, when necessary, responds to media coverage of Israel". Yes, among the first words there were MILITARY. So basically when you buy McDonalds, in a way you are contributing to the bullets that kill those civilian lives in Palestine.
McDonalds Malaysia last week released a statement denying their involvement with Israel. They pointed to the fact that Jack Greenberg, who was the person linked to JUF, had left his position as CEO 10 years ago.
Dr. Hafidzi however refutes this. “The CEOs after Greenberg still contribute to Israel. One of them received an award for his contribution in building a holocaust museum in Chicago. If McDonalds is no longer involved why haven’t they sued Inminds?”, he explained. Obviously they haven’t because they can’t.
A more detailed list of companies that contribute to Israel and how they contribute can be found on Inminds’ website (www.inminds.com/boycott-israel-2012.php).
A few global personalities have made political statements on the importance of boycotting Israel and supporting Palestine.
Renowned scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking, whose research and writings changed the way we understand our universe, is also backing the boycott of Israel. He demostrated this by pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
Iranian athletes such as Arash Miresmaeili and Taleb Nematpour in the past have withdrew from their matches against Israeli opponents. Miresmaeili, a judo athlete competing in the Olympic Games withdrew because he supposedly exceeded the weight limit. But he was quoted on his return home as saying that he had avoided the match as a sign of sympathy with the people of Palestine. This despite the athletes being favourites to win medals.
Global football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal publicly endorsed Palestine’s cause by refusing to swap shirts with Israeli players after last year's World Cup qualifier in Tel Aviv. Ronaldo even donated his Golden Boot award worth €1.5 million to a cause of supporting Palestine children.
A couple of weeks ago, British rock band, Colplay posted a link to the music video “Freedom For Palestine” by the band OneWorld. Fans who were anti-Israel posted comments to support Palestine, such as “Zionism is racism” and “Israel is an apartheid state.” Pro-Israel fans of the band however were angered. Some promises to boycott the band and a Facebook group was created that demanded an apology to Israel.
So it begs the question, if Israel supporters can boycott a band just because it posted a video that supports the freedom for Palestine, why can’t Palestine supporters, humanity supporters, and freedom supporters boycott companies that supports the military activities of Israel?
Miko Peled, author of the book ‘The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine’, is a peace activist who grew up in a prominent Zionis family. His grandfather, Avraham Katsnelson, was one of Israel’s forefathers as he signed Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Peled’s father, Mattiyahu Peled, was a General in the Israeli army. Yet Miko Peled strongly opposes the Zionist state and supports the boycotting of Israel.
Recently while being interviewed on the news show, Breaking The Set, he said “If they (Israel) don’t like the rockets (fired by Hamas), they can lift the siege on Gaza and allow the Palestinian refugees to go back to their homes. Furthermore they can release all the Palestinian prisoners unconditionally and call for free and fair elections — one person for one vote for every person who lives in this county (Israel). And cancel the apartheid regime, in other words topple the apartheid regime. This is what needs to happen and it needs to happen immediately. And until it happens, the world needs to boycott this place (Israel) and put sanctions on Israel.”
In this writer’s own personal opinion, donations and aids towards Palestine are most welcomed. But they are a defensive move. One cannot rely solely on defence for so long. Boycotting Israel is an offensive move and is the move that is much needed now.
Every day an increasing number of people from all corners of the world have joined in boycotting Israel. Perhaps its time you joined in too?