*Link to complete coverage of Gaza Massacre on MM*

The following is a guest-post by Nausherwan Hafeez.

boycott-israel-275x275.gifAt what point does a citizen-led boycott of a state become morally justified?

This question has been raised with regards to the growing academic, cultural, and economic boycott of Israel. In 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)—a coalition of more than 50 Palestinian civil society organizations—called for a program of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in response to Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories. This movement has gained support from trade unions, churches, and academic institutions based in the US, Canada, Europe, and South Africa. In reaction, a growing number of American academic institutions have come out against the boycott. This leads one to question: Why was the boycott called? Is there merit to a boycott? And what is the way forward?

The boycott was called in response to Israeli policies of illegal annexation and colonization of territories, extrajudicial killings, collective punishment, and the restriction of movement of native Palestinians throughout the region. The wanton attacks by Israel against Gaza have made a citizen-led boycott movement even more urgent. America's unflinching support for Israeli actions is both politically and morally wrong. To counteract this pernicious support and condemn Israel for its criminal actions, there is no other option left except to boycott Israel.

Israel has instituted a concerted effort of colonization and expulsion in the West Bank. The most visceral example of this is the “apartheid” wall that has been built throughout the West Bank in violation of the International Court of Justice's ruling that its construction is illegal. Former President Jimmy Carter noted in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid that, “[The Wall] is projected to be at least three and a half times as long as Israel's internationally recognized border and already cuts directly through Palestinian villages, divides families from their gardens and farmland, and includes 375,000 Palestinians on the “Israeli” side of the wall, 175,000 of whom are outside Jerusalem.” This land grab has allowed for the Palestinian people trapped in de facto Bantustans in violation of international law.

Israel has used the tactic of extrajudicial killings to eliminate those it deems a threat. One of the most heinous cases of such killings occurred in March of 2004, when an American-supplied Israeli Helicopter gunship bombed and killed the quadriplegic Sheik Ahmed Yassin. The “collateral” damage from this bombing was 9 innocent bystanders, including 6 children. The assassinations of alleged criminals are a gross violation of the rule of law.

Israeli policies in Gaza exemplify the idea of collective punishment. Israel hasMore… blockaded imports and exports in Gaza by declaring it a “hostile territory”. Consequently, about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in harsh poverty. About 1.2 million Gazans are dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from the UN or other international agencies without which the population would starve. This deliberate attempt to destroy Gazan livelihood is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention—which Israel is a signatory to—that obliges an occupational force to ensure the well-being of the occupied peoples.

Israel has set up over 500 different checkpoints throughout the West Bank. These checkpoints prevent Palestinians from moving freely within their own territory. To add insult to injury, there are numerous “Jew-only” roads throughout the West Bank that the native Palestinians are denied access to. This process of restricting Palestinian movement and access to roads throughout their territory is chillingly reminiscent of Nazi Germany's policy towards their Jewish population during the early part of the 1930's.

These Israeli policies have incited widespread international disapproval and formal criticism from many countries and international organizations. These policies have significantly isolated and discredited Israel in the global political arena. American policies, however, directly support and aid Israel in its transgressions in the Occupied Territories. America's unique relationship with Israel makes the idea of boycott even more relevant. The American-Israeli alliance has benefited Israel tremendously. The US has given Israel more than $140 billion in direct economic and military assistance. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually and is exempt from accounting for how this aid money is spent. Funds are often siphoned off to build Jewish colonies in the West Bank and provide funding for the “apartheid” wall. The fact that American taxpayers fund Israeli programs that actively oppress Palestinians needs to change.

Just as in the 1970's when boycott campaigns were mounted against Apartheid South Africa, it seems that the actions of Israel meet the criteria of a boycott. Yet, the opposite has occurred. Academic institutions—led by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger—have launched a counter-boycott to show solidarity with their Israeli counterparts. However, this action deflects the point of the boycott, which is an attempt to protest the inhumane policies carried out by Israel against the Palestinian peoples and to change these policies toward ones in line with international law. The American Jewish Committee—which is notorious for attacking anyone critical of Israel—has provided funds for the counter-boycott. Their actions are not helpful. Instead, what is desperately needed is an active debate on how we should approach our relationship with Israel. The knee-jerk defense that most American institutions give towards Israel is both unhealthy and counterproductive in that it deters an even-handed approach to dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the great moral issues of the twenty-first century. America's unconditional support for Israeli actions has directly led to an increase in international terrorism in addition to an increase in anti-Americanism across the world. The American population, who I believe is reasonable and compassionate, lacks a holistic understanding of the complexities of this conflict due to misinformation and political spin. We have allowed our government to implement policies that exacerbate the tensions in the Middle East and hurt the cause of peace. As a democratic society, we need to debate our special relationship with Israel and decide upon a just action for the future. Hopefully, our act of civic engagement can prevent the powder keg in the Middle East from erupting into what would most certainly be a cataclysmic explosion.

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39 Responses

  1. Ammar

    There are actually no details in this article of how we should carry out an Israeli boycott. The following link lists some prominent companies that are big supporters of Israel. It’s not your run-of-the-mill ‘boycott all Western products’ list but gives quite a few details as to how the companies are supporting the Zionist occupiers. Boycotting these companies would be a start for all Muslims to show that we can directly affect those who are complicit in the murder of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

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  2. Ammar

    Oh sorry, saw the same link at the bottom of the page just after submitting. There’s no embarassed emoticon here else I would have inserted it :P

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  3. abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    bismillah. i agree 100% that the time has come for widespread boycott of the state of Israel. and that we should encourage adoption of the boycott by people all over the world regardless of their religion.

    i believe more time should be spent on the details of such a campaign — explain how a boycott will help reduce Israeli oppression, inshaAllah. perhaps former-student leaders of the movements that successfully boycotted apartheid-era South Africa, a campaign that took decades to succeed, should be consulted. their insights may also help devise the best strategy, wAllaho’Alim.

    average citizens could participate in a humanitarian-boycott campaign against Israeli treatment of Palestinians by boycotting products made or assembled in Israel and those made and assembled using Israeli-components. that boycott could be gradually escalated or could immediately include companies which send a certain percentage of their profits to Israel. also, constituents can demand from their elected and appointed leaders that they acknowledge publicly the wrongness of Israeli actions. no government more unilaterally and substantively supports Israel than the United States, so our politicians must hear this complaint. here, the political campaign will be more bitterly contested and difficult than the economic one, so again, the insights of those who have dealt with politicians in boycotting South Africa might help, as well as the insights of others who have squared off against Israel’s lobby in the US.

    and purify your niyat. this boycott is to force a tyrant — the state of Israel — to restrain itself and to give justice and humane treatment to the Palestinians. it is not meant to hurt whatever innocent people may live in Israel. that Israel itself dares to use the same type of reasoning to justify its stranglehold of Gaza should give us pause. may Allah grant the organizers of the boycott against Israel success and guide them to the best execution of it.

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  4. iMuslim

    In the UK, Inminds produced a nifty wallet sized card that contained the logos and names of well known companies and brands that are financial supporters of Israel. I’m not sure where I picked it up from – it was a while ago – but it has proven very useful when I’m out and about.

    Looking through their website, I found a few pages that give the same info, including some downloadable leaflets:

    * List of brands with logos
    * A4 poster for mosques, etc
    * Printable leaflet for shopping trips

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  5. Miako

    I shan’t say a bad word about an economic boycott. It is a tool, if not for economic victory, than at least taking the moral high ground.

    If we continue to use the research obtained during the Holocaust through torture and killing of those in concentration camps — and we do, what exactly is the basis for a boycott of Israeli research? Pardon, but it is nonsensical. This is not to say that focusing on academics is a dead end — there’s certainly nose-tweakage available in the scholarly journals (research about the apartheid within israel itself, etc)

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  6. Miako

    final thought: It would be productive if you would assign terms for ending the boycott. Should it be when the Gazan Offensive ceases? Should it be when there is a true two state solution? Perhaps you might have different levels of boycotts as well….

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  7. Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

    Boycott?

    How about starting with the internet? Google? Yahoo?

    Oh, the irony…!

    How about consulting the Salafi ulema before calling for a boycott?

    Allow them to explain, detail, clarify, reply.

    Until then, its as futile as all those protest marches and demonstrations.

    Please read Dr Ali Shehata’s article on thsi website if you really want to know the Sunnah-based response to this fitnah.

    Wassalaam

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  8. Arshad

    “Dont think of a purple elephant” What happens ? You think of an purple elephant.

    That is the case with most of websits that list companies that support Israel. The lists are long and overwhelming. Does anyone know of any websites that list the competitors of the companies that DONT support Israel ?

    Arshada

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  9. AsimG

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    I don’t understand this boycott things. I DESPERATELY want to avoid all Israeli-made products and companies that really support Israel, but all these lists of companies to boycott is too much.

    And if we boycott these companies, where do we turn? Walmart brands that use Chinese children workshops, whose government is also oppressing Muslims?

    I’m so confused!

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  10. Siraaj

    Guys, we need an 80/20 rule.

    1. Which companies donate the most, such that a boycott would hurt them and
    2. Which companies would be impacted if we pulled out.

    Lastly, please provide a list of competitors to purchase from or deal with.

    Siraaj

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  11. Sunnah is Boycott

    Sunnah is BOYCOTT:

    If we follow the Sunnah and strive to live our lives according to Sunnah then “Boycott” comes automatically.

    1st step_ BS (Bachelors in Sunnah)
    Look on you and around you, get all the clothes, utensils, appliances, furniture etc that is not made by the “Juice” or “cocktails” you know what I mean (USA+Israel=made in “haven”). When we do all that our house and everything in it looks just like our prophet SAS house.

    Once you follow the first step, graduate to masters level and look at the land you are standing on see where its made in…
    I got your bell ringing now.. that’s MS- (Masters in Sunnah)

    Now you need a PhD in Sunnah. When you reach to that level in DarauI Islam the Muttaqeen Mujahid will teach you that……

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  12. AsimG

    Yes, please someone make that list.

    All the other lists basically have EVERY company in the United States. Boycotting them is not viable, it doesn’t give alternatives nor do I accept that all these companies are big-time donors to Israel.
    Give me some incentive!
    I.e why am I boycotting McDonald’s? Show me proof that they give money to Israel!

    I’ll gladly boycott Starbucks because I’ve read their support for Israel and their zionist CEO.

    But what about the rest? Hanes? White candle farm company? Where the heck are you guys getting this stuff from…

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  13. Nausherwan Hafeez

    For more information on the boycott, please visit:
    http://www.pacbi.org/

    Old news on the boycott:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4388633,00.html
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/dec/12/internationaleducationnews.israel

    Recent call for a boycott by Malaysia
    http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/6/nation/2945105&sec=nation

    And for those people who are students, you can call for a referendum on campus to academically boycott Israel similar to what the British Union College did a couple of years ago.

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  14. Yaser Birjas

    To make the boycott effective and realistic, we should focus on one company, brand or country at a time. Make this an international effort.

    For instance…call all people everywhere to boycott brand X or company Y, based on what we know of their public support to Israel.
    Make a goal in terms of number of supporters and timeframe, three months for instance to reach your target.
    Open a webpage to support that and have as many people possible from around the world to sign up and show their support to know how many are there with you. One page per brand or company.
    Make a study and research, create numbers and data based documents and look up facts to show the goal needed to reach, and how much damage this can cause the targeted company or brand. Look for facts not spam info. from the emails we receive all the time.

    Once this goes in the millions, it becomes a reason for you to contact the brand name manufacturer or the company with your request in regard to the situation in Palestine.

    General boycott, is really a dream we wish to come true to teach these companies a lesson. But let’s be realistic and work one brand at a time.
    We can call this campaign “One Brand For Justice” or something like that.

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  15. reader

    Take your family to a store. Let the storekeeper slap your one kid…kill another.. and then kick your wife onto the sidewalk. Then tell yourself IT’S OKKKK, when some “BROTHER/SISTER” comes in and looks at your family and says…pshhh..WHATEVER…and hands the same storekeeper their money and walks away sipping their latte. May Allah save us from this weakness. Have some respect.

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  16. reader

    From inminds.co.uk:

    People of good conscience have chosen to boycott israeli products and companies supporting the zionist entity. Their ethical purchasing decision however is frustrated by the lack of accurate information as to which companies to boycott.

    We have carried out extensive research to identify the guilty companies. All our findings are provided here. Where ever possible, we have included full references for the source of our information so that you may independently verify its accuracy and understand exactly how each company is contributing its support to israel. We thank all those organizations who’s research we have utilized.

    Our research is on going and we encourage you to help us with it – If you have any information regarding guilty companies please e-mail us this information with source references. Thank you.

    This site tells you why and what part of a company’s business to boycott. They have even taken OFF companies from this list after it was proven that they are not on disputed land in Israel. They are the only responsible site I have seen that does not give out blanket statements.

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  17. Farhan

    I agree with Yaser Birjas. Pick one company that is accessible by the average person and boycott them specifically.
    Starbucks…even if 100,000 people all over America stop going, it won’t harm their market. I think we need a new target.

    I used to be part of the Divestment movements in college, but it became unrealistic when they were companies the average person either coult not avoid or did not come into contact with.

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  18. reader

    Respectfully, I don’t agree with line of thinking that even if X number of people boycott that there is no effect. Similarly, one could say that if this was really true, we should not mind bleeding away money all the time as it has no effect. The truth is that there is a monetary impact in that there is a loss of income and also that their competitors now gain that lost income. In addition, there is a psychological impact as well…on the companies as well as on the consumers.

    If you read through inminds.co.uk, you do see a lot of companies on there, but there are alternatives to most every company on there. We are an ummah that fasts at least one month out of 12, well trained in the art of avoiding what is harmful inshaAllah. We offer our love and compassion to those who do not harm us and are quick to forgive those to cease to harm us.

    This exercise is perhaps not the same as making du’a when no one sees you, but there are some parallels in my minds. It’s an initiative, a mindset, and a reminder to us that we are awake and caring. In a world where our brethren are being so severely tested, we need to grasp at any means necessary to have a hope of not being labeled as ‘hypocrites’ on the day of judgment and this is just a small piece of that puzzle.

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  19. mulsimah

    I dont understand why so many comapanies give a percentage of aid to Israel? Whats the point , they are already getting from the US gov. I just dont understand why.. I know starbucks does alot and I know many Muslims go there so I would truly urge them not to. Their prices are high anyways and there are other local drink places that are cheaper and just as good.

    At the moment that money is being used to hurt our brothers and sisters so we really should think before we buy anything that aids Israel in doing this.

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  20. Miako

    sweetmarias.com is a great place for coffee. buy it green, roast it yourself, save a bundle, and know that much of your money is going straight to Muslim coffee growers in Ethiopia and Yemen.

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  21. aamer khan

    where is the research and investigation that proves these companies actually *support* israel? proof needs to accompany that list.

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    • lisa

      The only “proof” that I personally need is that the person creating this article fears Allah, therefore he knows that presenting false information would lead him to hellfire.
      And it seems very obvious that the writer of this article does in fact fear Allah.
      Therefore, I do not need further proof from him.
      He is not a fickle person. He is a believer in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and his messenger sallallahu alaihi wa salaam.

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  22. abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    takbeer! [Allaho Akbar!]
    takbeer! [Allaho Akbar!]
    takbeer! [Allaho Akbar!]

    innalhamdolillah. bismillah. may Allah guide Huga Chavez to Islam! [ameen!]

    Israeli envoy to Caracas expelled
    “Venezuela has ordered the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Caracas in protest at Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7814857.stm
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/01/06/world/AP-LT-Venezuela-Israel.html

    if you are an American, write to the Venezuelan Embassy at this address (or Google the address for the Venezuelan Embassy in your own country) and express your appreciation for this ethical response to the evil perpetrated by Israeli leaders.

    i think it would be great to express your prayer that Hugo Chavez accept Islam. let him know that his stance is the stance that a billion Muslims would have taken if given the chance.

    [digg the bbc story! http://digg.com/world_news/Israeli_envoy_to_Caracas_expelled]

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  23. AsimG

    In Canada, starbucks is very aware of the boycott and even some employees have responses to the protest to give to customers.

    I say we focus on Starbucks and McDonald’s!

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  24. MuslimahCA

    I agree with you AsimG!

    Generally its been stay out of the starbuck stores :( But now i have more motivation then ever to stop supporting those zionist companions!

    Lets focus on Starbucks and McDonalds, in the states Starbucks numbers have been really low and have even closed many stores in my city. A line from Obama’s campaign YES WE CAN!

    If i can do it, ANYONE can! Ask my friends they can eloborate for you all!

    May Allah give me and the ummah strength to protection! Ameen

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  25. Muhsina

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    I think a boycott of Israeli companies and goods that support Israel is something that individuals can do, but I have read on a another site that it is illegal for US companies to boycott Israel (in many instances). The article linked an “Antiboycott Compliance Law” from the US Department of Commerce – http://www.bis.doc.gov/complianceandenforcement/antiboycottcompliance.htm.

    I wasn’t aware of this law, but now I understand why it is difficult to get US companies on board for any individual or group led boycott of Israeli goods.

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  26. Amad

    Starbucks response:
    ht

    tp://www.starbucks.com/aboutus/pressdesc.asp?id=971

    Rumor Response: Starbucks Statement re: Support of Israel

    Rumors that Starbucks Coffee Company and its management support Israel are unequivocally false.

    Starbucks is a publicly traded company with stores in 49 countries. Though our thousands of partners (employees) and business associates around the globe have diverse views and share many beliefs about a wide range of topics, our primary focus remains to deliver the best customer experience possible. Starbucks is a non-political organization and does not support political causes. Further, the political preferences of a Starbucks partner at any level have absolutely no bearing on Starbucks company policies.

    Contact Information:
    Starbucks Customer Relations
    (800) 235-2883
    info@starbucks.com

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  27. jim

    hello,
    I hope so the Isreal is not make it the one it is…u know what imean….very nice…good morning

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  28. Christian

    Muslims who boycott Israel deserve to have Christians boycott their curry houses. Its a fair cop. You would all soon change your tune when you start loosing money and have to live on state benefits.

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    • lisa

      Muslims already have to live on state benefits (in western countries), because RACISTS like you will not hire them even when their credentials are far more superiour then the highschool dropouts born in the West.
      I was born in the West even so I know what I am talking about! LOL

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  29. Jack

    Besides just boycotting, I would like to have a list of excellent Palestinian products that we can all buy. Also, how about supporting the many Palestinian research institutes and medical centers–we must offer our blessings to all their renowned scientists and doctors! And what about the great Muslim-supported hospitals and universities throughout the United States and the world! Let us take some POSITIVE action!

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  30. Maverick

    What’s really funny is that Muslims are like lemmings. Gullible, naive, and so emotionally distracted.

    Although I don’t go to Starbucks myself, I disapprove of the InMinds’ boycott against Starbucks.

    As a publicly listed company, if it were giving money directly to Israel – or even to Israeli charities that support Israeli crimes – then it would have to file these with the SEC. To date, I haven’t seen anyone pull up even a single such statement showing that evidence.

    Howard Schultz gives his own money to Israeli charities and other Israel-associated entities. That is his personal choice, and it is no reason for anyone to stop drinking at Starbucks.

    IN the Mideast, the Starbucks stores are run mostly by the Alshaya Group – a Muslim company that merely licenses the Starbucks brand.

    I noticed the InMinds site also lists Nestle as a brand to boycott. Does anyone know that there are only three companies worldwide that control upto 90% of the global halal market, and that one of those three companies is …. *drumroll please* …. Nestle.

    My point is that people seriously need to do a LOT more research, to do the cold calls, to nail down actual verifies info, and to stop conflating the personal choices + expenses of corporate executives with the actual company and its products.

    The academic and BDS campaigns have had far better effect.

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    • Leen E. Radd

      The following article refutes majority of what you said about them not supporting Israel. True, we need to research, but we also can’t be blinded by our findings and what’s not there – keep “media control” in mind as well as the fact that Starbucks is a powerful corporation.

      http://stopfundingisrael.org/starbucks.html

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  31. lisa

    The problem with boycotting Isreal is first we have to defeat the consumerism they started through there intelligent knowledge of marketing and selling crap products to the masses in order to generate revenue for their military endeavors.

    Isreal does not actually make “better products” like many people tend to assume. They make a better package to sell a crappy and even environmentally unfriendly product.

    Isreal can take a piece of excrement, make it look sexy and sell it for 10 000$. I am sure. That is because they know everything about manipulating peoples wallets and generating consumers.

    Defeat consumerism first. Then Isreal will have no power. Wallahi.

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