10 September, 2006

You Want Fries With That, Sheikh?

With every outbreak of hostilities between Israel or the US and Muslim-majority countries comes calls for a boycott by the latter (and their allies) of goods and services produced by the former. The current state of war between Israel and Lebanon is no exception. From "Electronic Intifada" we have this announcement:
Statement by the Palestinian Civil Society Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel -- Acting Steering Committee: Specifically, people of conscience everywhere are called upon to:boycott all Israeli products and services; boycott Israeli academic, cultural, athletic and economic institutions; pressure unions, professional associations and civil society organizations to divest from Israel; pressure governments to stop all military trade with Israel, as a first step towards adopting total sanctions against it. All these measures should be maintained until Israel fully complies with international law and respects fundamental human rights of Arabs, whether in Lebanon or Palestine.
From the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel we have links to several reports:
The Dubai-based Gulf News recaps this wire story about worldwide protests against Israel:
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Europe and the United States, to march against Israel's war on Lebanon and the refusal of the US and British governments to condemn it. Police said 7,000 people joined the London protest which ran from the banks of the Thames to Hyde Park through torrential rain. Many people carried placards condemning "Israeli crimes in Lebanon." "We are all Hezbollah. Boycott Israel" read one. "Axis of evil: Bush, Blair, Olmert," read another, referring to the political leaders of the United States, Britain and Israel.
In Time Magazine an article entitled "Why Iran Isn't Cheering" we get this information about why certain Western companies are being targeted:
Parvin Heydari, an Iranian mother of two, was flipping back and forth between the nightly news and Oprah when a bulletin on an Iranian state channel caught her attention. It urged Iranians to boycott what it called "Zionist products," including those made by Pepsi, Nestle and Calvin Klein, and warned that profits from such products "are converted into bullets piercing the chests of Lebanese and Palestinian children." As evidence, the voice-over intoned, "Pepsi stands for 'pay each penny to save Israel.'" Heydari says she changed the channel, as she has no intention of crossing Nestle's Nesquik off her shopping list. "Lebanon has nothing to do with us," she says. "We should mind our own business and concentrate on policies that are good for our economy, and our kids."
And finally, from the Times of Oman we have a reprint of an Agence France Press story entitled "Iran TV urges boycott of 'Zionist' products" which singles out even more companies:
The world's largest chip maker Intel was also branded as "one of Israel's biggest supporters". "Its first overseas branch was set up in Haifa in 1974. In 2000 it employed more that 4,000 Israelis. Its top managers have said that they are going to invest 6.5 billion dollars in Israel," would-be Intel customers have been told. "McDonalds, Timberland, Revlon, Garnier, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and L'Oreal are only some of the firms which belong to the Zionist regime," state television said, before taking a swipe at what it said were less vigilant Arab nations. "Unfortunately most of the streets of Arab nations are filled with commercials which advertise Israeli products."
As I wrote during last winter's cartoon crisis, calls for boycotts by Middle Eastern countries of American and Israeli companies don't haven't a long history of success. To my mind, there is little or no chance that what the Iranians are calling for will be achieved- a Middle East where there's no Intel Inside, where guys like Hugo Chavez are the Boss, and where there are no McDonalds's for anyone to ask "Do you want fries with that, Sheikh?"

Note: this post originally appeared on July 23rd, 2006 on my blog, The Business of America is Business


Lirun said...

and no voicemail.. multimedia messaging or intergrated post and prepaid billing services..

who else hates it when their bills are all wrong?!


wishing peace to us all without delay so we may avoid these questions..


DG said...

Starling David Hunter, I fully agree with you. Peace cannot be achieved by boycotts. We are humans first, then anything else. Both sides need to come closer to each other, to understand each other. Nice post, keep it up :-)

Lirun, happy to see you commenting on UAE blogs regularly :-)

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