: A few days ago, I pulled my car up into the drive-thru lane at the McDonald’s nearby my house and ordered a Big Breakfast set with orange juice.
I had returned home from my wife’s hometown in Johor Bahru after a short Hari Raya break earlier than her and my daughter because I had to start work earlier.
So I was home alone and hungry. And I couldn’t be bothered to go into the kitchen to look for ingredients and fix something up for myself.
I was greeted on the audio box next to my car window very politely.
“Selamat Hari Raya. What would you like to order?” the voice said.
“Selamat Hari Raya. I would like one Big Breakfast please. And change the coffee to orange juice instead,” I said.
“Please pay at the counter, Sir.”
I drove up to the cashier’s counter and I saw the face behind the voice. She was a young Malay girl, probably in her early twenties, in a tudung and I assumed she is Muslim.
“Assalamualaikum. That would be RM12.90 please. Thank you,” she greeted me.
“Why aren’t you off for the Hari Raya holidays?” I asked her.
“I have to work, Sir. Such is life!” she smiled.
I smiled back at her, took my food and drove off. Does the boycott work?
Here is a situation that has made me think about the boycott that is being called for here in Malaysia against Israel and the Zionist state.
It is obvious from the anecdotal evidence I gave at the start of this opinion piece shows that I have not decided to boycott McDonald’s.
It doesn’t mean that I support Zionism. And it definitely doesn’t mean that I am belittling the efforts of so many Malaysians who believe in the boycott.
I just don’t want to do something where I am not fully comprehensive of its entire mechanics and objectives. I need to believe in it 100% to want to get involved.
The story also shows that at a micro level, the first people to suffer when such a boycott takes place are our own local people who rely on these organisations to earn a living.
The question that has been playing in my head is, whether the boycott works in achieving the objective of pressurising the Israeli government. It worked against South Africa! But that’s different.
The BDS movement (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) started in 2005 with that sole intention of isolating Israel and to get them to change their policies.
It was inspired by the boycott against South Africa in the 1980s which ultimately contributed hugely to the end of Apartheid in that country. Noble intentions.
However, there are significant differences between Apartheid-era South Africa and the situation between Israel and Palestine today.
Although they oppressed the black community, South African whites needed them because they were a valuable resource to the country. They were never bombed.
Israel, however, doesn’t need and want the existence of Palestinians. They are going at an all-out campaign to decimate the entire Arab Muslim population there.
The Israel-Palestinian situation is much worse than what happened in South Africa. So, probably a different approach has to be taken. How significant can our boycott be anyway?
Also consider the fact that for a boycott to work against Israel, it requires a tremendous amount of human effort from all around the world.
Israel is being backed by the United States of America and several other western nations that have an unbelievable amount of financial, economical and political clout.
Look at what happened to the US’ Secretary of State John Kerry when he said Israel could face further boycotts if they continue with their ways.
He was forced to make another statement after that, declaring he is an unapologetic and loud opposition against any form of boycotts of Israel.
They even pressure their own people! The US even has anti-boycott laws in place. In 1977, they made boycotts that support the Arab League’s boycotts against Israel illegal.
However, certain western countries have taken it in their power to make more hard-hitting efforts in support of the BDS movement.
Danske Bank in Denmark blacklisted Israel’s Bank Hapoalim because they provide funding and financing for construction projects in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
PGGM, the Netherland’s biggest pension-fund management company, announced that it cut off all ties with five of Israeli’s main banks.
Norway’s state-owned investment fund, the biggest in the world has also banned investment with several Israeli companies for ‘serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict. We aren’t boycotting Facebook, WhatsApp and Waze?
It is important to distinguish between Zionist-supporting organisations and organisations that just so happen to be run and owned by Jews.
As much as the boycott is suppose to hurt and isolate Israel, it cannot be too generalising that it ends up as a persecution effort based on race and religion.
It is very important that people who partake in the boycott be smart and compassionate. That incident in Dungun where a McDonald’s outlet was attacked shouldn’t have happened.
However, I personally think that Malaysians are not boycotting social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp because they are just addicted to it! Haha! If not boycott, then what?
I am not a supporter of war, fighting or any violent acts to achieve anything. I don’t believe that the end justifies the means in this situation.
The way forward is through political and diplomatic negotiations. The two parties just need to learn to live together and, who knows, there might be benefits to it.
However, Israel does not seem to want to entertain any negotiations, seeing the fact that if any were to happen seriously, it means them having to compromise.
So maybe the best action to take is the boycott. But the effects can hit very close to home, and are we willing to face it?
If we really want to seriously consider the BDS movement, it needs to be done full force. Governments need to take a stand for it to really hurt.
What the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway did is a good example. They have direct links with Israel, and by pulling out big time, it hurts big time too. But it’s still not enough.
Even governments that don’t have direct ties with Israel and only trade by proxy can do their part. That’s how to hit them hard.
To be honest, by refraining from buying burgers, fries and designer coffee, it just hurts us more than it does them.