Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Over the past few days, many if not most have been talking about this idea of boycott or refusal to participate. An economic boycott was sanctioned by the Malaysian government in order to send a strong message of disagreeing with the Gaza conflict. Israel has been seen as the culprit and deemed to be the "bully" between that conflict and thus a boycott on items related to israel has been put into motion. Oh and a few minutes ago i just got a message stating that McDonalds and Starbucks are going to contribute their whole month of income ( January) towards the Israeli cause.
Over the past few days as well a few things have popped into mind regarding this matter for me. A student in one of my classes when prompted questioned: "Will it work?" (if youre wondering why an English lecturer would be talking about the conflict, its because language needs an issue.)
I stared silently into the crowd, remembering the many disputes and debates i have had with myself, my countless monologue while i commute to work.
It has always been my contention and a known fact that boycotts (1) work only in the long run (2) it is a accumulation of individual right.
When confronted with the question of boycott these two things sprung to mind. Because firstly, the conflict in Gaza has been going on for almost 60 years, some might claim even longer and there are facts to support that. And in this 60 years we have decided to begin our boycott in an era where most of our citizens have grown accustomed to the things they are asking us to boycott. I read somewhere the internet were founded by jews and so was the pentium. So to boycott israel means to not buy computers??? you figure it out.
You see boycott is a self choice. If people think that cant live without McDonalds for example, it would be hard for him or her to participate in the boycott (this is rhetorically of course). So it should be left up to personal choice. If choosing between a supposedly (israel tea) and Sabah Tea fo instance, then the better choice (assuming of course youre participating in the boycott) would be to buy the Sabah Tea. But not to the extent of throwing away your computer because the intel chip was founded by people who are supporting Israel.
The two kinds of boycott would fall under the necessity and the luxury. For example, eat local food instead of a chain store like KFC or McDonalds, drink Sabah Tea instead of Lipton or Boh (these are just examples i dont know whether they are israel based) using mustika ratu lotion instead of johnson and johnson. Yes some would argue the quality differs and that is why i leave it personal choice. If you think you cannot live without johnson and johnson lotion then dont try. Youre boycott should not in anyway put you in a discomfort. More admirable are those who allow themselves to be rid of certain or all luxuries in life which could contribute to the Isreali cause but lets be realistic, I dont think all could do so.
Which brings me to another point. Why have we chose to implement this now? If we had started 40 years ago our generation today would not have grown dependant on household names such as Johnson and Johnson, Seba, Pampers and such. But no, we decide now to do so.
Will it work? will people really stop buying for sure???
No..... people wont. So confounded are people with their current status quo that most would simply brush this idea of or give a lame excuse such as, "the neighboring countries of palestine dont give a damn so why should we?"
I see the glass as half full... so even though our so called boycott might not work because of the dependancy on foreign products, it is still a statement that we do not condone israeli violence. That we are against it and we want the UN to stand and be counted at this moment of despair. It is in this time of conflict the UN should prevail and understand that Isrealis are the bullies and even though vengeance has grown deeper and darker and even more bitter over the span of 60 years, it is time we intervene and stop the violence.
I once read an article telling this story of an Israeli soldier. Where he said three of his friends were out on patrol and during that patrol they taken/abducted and killed and heads were stuck to a stick displayed for all the israel soldiers to see. Then he went on to tell the story of how israel soldiers were being mocked by children on the border and as the kids (aged probably around 8-12) threw rocks and cursed at the israelis, the faces of their fallen comrades come into their faces and these soldiers start shooting at the children. Putting round after round into these young bodies because they were angry. In the story he said...
"I have forgotten the cause of this war, it has been so long ago that i do not remember how everything started in the first place... but as look upon the bodies of a Palestinian child bloodied guilt swarmed over me, this young body will never understand life anymore and we have taken its life..... I have forgotten the cause of this war... but even if i remember... i do not think it is worth... what ever the cause maybe... too much blood has been spilt..."
As a muslim im with my Palestinian brothers. My Muslim brothers, their suffering is mine and if we sit idly by, we are as much as guilty as the israelis who are killing innocent children. Churchill said For evil to prevail all good men have to do is nothing. So at the very least, I emphatize with my Muslim brothers.
as a human being, i do not believe any man was built to withstand guilt of killing an innocent child. And if Isrel continues its horrendous assault on the innoecent victims that now lay waste at 900 bodies, they are losing the spiritual war. They are losing themselves. They are losing the battle to remain.... Human. I do not know this for sure... but i hope that they do feel guilt of the innocent lives they have massacred because if they have no guilt... then this war will carry on until both nations lay in ruins.
One of my friends asked me.... "Do you understand this war hanafee?"
To be honest, i understand and i do not understand this war. I understand that basic need to keep what is sacred to you in your lineage. The battle for jerusalem. The battle to retain what is sacred. But what i do not understand, is why both these sides would allow innocent casualties. Why dont the Hamas move to an area further away from the civilians instead of continuing with this militant hiding in the society tactic, and why does israel continue to attack without acknowledging that innocent lives are dying. Would they prefer to kill innocent lives just to win this war?? would both the hamas and the israelis prefer to let all innocent people die before finally killing each other???
This post started with just a brief explaantion regarding this idea of boycott and this is the extension and extent of this issue. This is one war no one will win.
For the closing I take the words of the Turkish general in the Movie Kingdom of Heaven. Jerusalem -- It is everything, and nothing.