On the outset, this is criticism based on “been there, done that”. No endorsement, rather ideas and a call for a larger Muslim activist discussion on the topic of the methodology of Boycotting Israel. Here is what you can expect.
1. Lessons- Ashes of Failure
- Boycott 101
- Apartheid South Africa
- Arab Boycott of Israel
2. Lessons- Shimmer of Hope
3. Great Israeli Boycott v.2.0
Lessons of the Ashes of Failure
I remember six years ago I was part of the first ISRAELI BOYCOTT. I seem to be still part of that, though, I have to say in hindsight that first time we had it all wrong. As college students we rallied around a great idea, but I felt then as I do now, that we are not creatively approaching this issue of Israel and Americans/America's tacit support- BLIND- of all things Israel. Here is why we failed the first time with the boycott.
The definition of a "boycott" is "the act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with someone or some other organization as an expression of protest." As we Palestinian activist know, this definitely is our intent- as an expression of protest toward Israeli Occupation and violence (the recent Baby Butcher’s Raiding Parties of Gaza along with the past 60 years of occupation, violence, dehumanization, assassinations and demolitions along with a list of other things).
The BOYCOTT became a popular political western term- by definition- during the Irish Land war against an absentee land owners (someone who didn’t live in Ireland on his estate but rather in England, but collected taxes on everything and everyone there). This land lord had a crusty old guy looking over the property by name of Captain Boycott.
The Irish folk basically organized, rallying to socially ostracize Boycott, by stopping work, stopped paying taxes, even delivering mail to the crusty old man. The purpose of all this was a demand in reduction in rent. Unable to do anything, 1000 policemen escorted volunteers to come pick his harvest. At the end all of this was pointless since it cost him and the Earl more money. He left Ireland and his name to the idea of social isolation of someone/ something for political/economic benefit.
From Islamic history, the Seerah, of the profit we can trace the practice of the boycott against the Muslims.
According to tradition, the leaders of Makhzum and Abd Shams, two important clans of Quraysh, declared a public boycott against the clan of Banu Hashim, their commercial rival, in order to put pressure on the clan to withdraw its protection from Muhammad SAW. The boycott lasted for three years but eventually collapsed mainly because it was not achieving its purpose.
The reason it was not achieving its purpose was because many sympathetic tribe members were sneaking in goods to the Muslims. We know that the following year was known as the “year of Sorrow” because of the death of the Kadijah RA and Abu Talib the Prophet SAW uncle. That is our heritage.
In the British colonies of America (the future US) there was the “No Taxation without Representation” and the “Slave manufactured goods” boycott. Ghandi led a boycott of East India trading company goods, including the Salt Satyagraha, where after declaring independence on January 20, 1950 Gandi led a march against the “salt tax” that the British imposed on the Indians, walking 400 kilometers spreading the word of the non-violent boycott of British tax on salt- a staple for ALL communities in India. Coming to Ocean, Gandi began the process of making his own salt, thus avoiding the tax. The British responded by imprisoning 60,000 people.
Another famous boycott includes the Montgomery Bus boycott. You can read all about it here.
Then there was the complex action against Apartheid South Africa, and also the Arab Trade boycott of Israel- yes you didn’t know? I hope to discuss a bit more in depth in the next post. Your thoughts on the first Boycott...and any other actions that might have taken place against Israel.