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Middle East: Boycott as a Political Weapon

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, North America, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, U.S.A., Digital Activism, Economics & Business, International Relations, Politics, War & Conflict

Many people across the Middle East have decided to boycott Israeli and American products in response to the Israeli war on Gaza.

The Angry Arab News Service [1] wrote:

Across five Arab states a new and closely co-ordinated campaign to boycott American goods is being launched, with Starbucks coffee shops their primary target, but with Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Burger King outlets also on the list.

Among all the American brands, Starbucks was the main target of the boycotting campaigns. Zeinobia [2], from Egypt, wrote about this saying:

Starbucks, the famous Starbucks branch was closed in Beirut for a day because of the protests. There are calls and actual respond to it across the Arab world to boycott the American products especially 84268245 those products associated with Israel in a way or another.

She then continued:

Of course the Arabic public is convinced that Starbucks in America gives annual donation to the IDF due to the fact that founder and the owner of Starbucks is a Jew, to be honest this is not enough to draw a conclusion that the chain donates to the IDF but news like that one makes the Arab public thinks twice.
Starbucks-IDF rumors are bit old rumours even before it opens its branches in Egypt ,it was fought in the Arab world.
I remember one day I received any email about the logo of Starbucks and its history , saying that it is the Hebrew Princess that saved the Jews in Babylonian ancient time where in reality it is another whole thing.

The boycotting campaigns were not limited to the Arab world only, and American-Palestinian group blog KABOBfest [3] reported here how people in Malaysia are also participating in the campaigns:

Over 2,000 Muslim-owned restaurants in Malaysia have taken Coca-Cola off the menu in an effort to support global boycotts against Israel. Local organizations are encouraging employees of Coca-Cola, as well as Starbucks and other companies, to quit their jobs.

From Jordan, Khobbeizeh [4] also wrote about boycotting Starbucks:

Howard Schultz is an active Zionist, extremely sectarian for the Israeli army. He is supporting them with hundred of millions yearly from Starbucks’ income, and he's one of the major sponsors of their weaponry.

For sure, the Israeli products were boycotted by many people as well, and here is what Body on the Line [5] wrote in her blog:

Farmers say much of their produce is being held in warehouses due to canceled orders, and fear a sharp decrease in fruit exports to countries such as Jordan, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries.

Ilan Eshel, director of the Organization of Fruit Growers in Israel, said Scandinavian countries have also been canceling orders.

The American blogger, who lives in Palestine, then wrote about how academics in the United Kingdom are reacting to the Israeli attack on Gaza:

British academics have written an open letter, published in the Guardian, calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions:
“We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, and not upon the criminal use of force.”
“We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”
In London students also took action in solidarity with Gaza at the prestigious London school of economics:

More than 40 students were continuing their sit-in at the London School of Economics today in protest at the conflict in Gaza.

There are also organizations and sites that are dedicated to spreading word about the campaigns like this [6], this [7], and this [8] one.

But on the other hand some others, like Crossroads Arabia [9] were not that much into the boycotting:

Saudi Gazette reports that a boycott of American products in support of the people of Gaza is beginning to take hold in Saudi Arabia. As with earlier, similar boycotts, this one is likely to a) assuage Saudi feelings of impotence and b) hurt the Saudi franchisees and their employees, without actually doing much damage to the US economy, contrary to what a professor from King Abdulaziz University states.
It’s clear that the idea of a boycott has strong popular support, though.

Also Jewlicious [10] wrote a post in reply to Khobbeizeh:

Now, I’m no big fan of Starbucks, or of Coffee for that matter, but the notion that Starbucks supports the IDF to the tune of “hundred of millions yearly” is patently ludicrous. Khobbeizeh my friend, your ample Photoshop skills aside, you are an idiot.