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Boycotting Israel

That is to say, we are called to boycott ALL Israeli products and companies supporting the Zionist entity, thereby placing international pressure on the illegal state to end its unjustified occupation of Palestine.

Despite the recently announced cease-fire, an act of genocide is in full swing and has been going on against the people of Palestine for over 60 years now. Feelings of rage, powerlessness and incapacity multiply as such prejudiced human suffering takes place before our very eyes. In our hundreds and thousands all over the world, we stage demonstrations, rallies, and voice our fury at the injustices being perpetrated ever so deliberately. And yet, as our hearts overwhelm with deep sorrow and distress, we fail to realize that so many of us have – and continue to – taken part in actually sustaining this humanitarian catastrophe and the entire Zionist regime.

As horrendous as it sounds, by purchasing products and services of Israeli companies and those that fund Israel, we are essentially legitimizing the racism and colonial oppression that is being perpetrated against the people of Palestine. We are overlooking the severe violations of human rights. In fact, with every such investment, we are subsidizing the atrocious acts of the Zionist regime along with the horrific measures it is imposing on the defenseless.

In a recent press release, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions National Committee “calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel’s massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights.”

That is to say, we are called to boycott ALL Israeli products and companies supporting the Zionist entity, thereby placing international pressure on the illegal state to end its unjustified occupation of Palestine. We must do so not only until the violence and slaughter comes to a halt, but until there exists a true democracy with equal rights for all, providing a remedy to the Palestinians who have been deprived of their independence and freedom – and this includes the millions of displaced Palestinian refugees who have the right to return to their homeland.

Having given clear rulings regarding the boycott, our Religious Authorities (Maraja Taqleed) are unanimous in their decree. Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani states in his book A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West:

“It is not permissible for a Muslim to buy products of the countries that are in a state of war with Islam and Muslims, for example, Israel.” (ruling #249)

“Question: Is it permissible to buy from shops that dedicate part of their profits to supporting Israel? Answer: We do not allow that.” (ruling #265)

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei also decreed in a recent statement, “The purchase of any item which helps strengthen Zionism is not permissible unless it reaches the point of necessity.”

As believers, we cannot undermine their verdicts and take it lightly. Ayatollah Khamenei has recently reiterated this, urging Muslims to refrain from any business transaction which could benefit the enemies of Islam: “The purchase, import, re-import, and promotion of any product whose profits will be given to Israeli occupiers directly or indirectly is forbidden [by Islamic decree] and Muslims are prohibited from doing so.”

Some may doubt the power of the boycott, deeming its ability to hurt Israel’s economy as laughable. They are encouraged to read the FAQ page on the Global BDS Movement website, which explains how the boycott has been effective, its influence worrying the Israeli government and pro-Zionists to such an extent that they have called for the introduction of a proposed law in the US Congress to ban divestment in Israel. The successful boycott of South Africa in the mid 1990s to condemn the racist apartheid is also proof of its effectiveness.

However, what is equally, if not more, important about the boycott is its symbolic value. It is a powerful, peaceful resistance strategy mobilizing people worldwide to be the voice of Palestine – the voice confronting injustice and oppression, battling for freedom and self-determination. Through the boycott, we make it known to our governments that their association (be it social, economic or political) with a state that does not respect international law and basic human rights is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is a worldwide strategy embraced by many to condemn Israel’s crimes against humanity, with action and not just words.

The internet bookstore Amazon.com terminated its association with The Jerusalem Post after it was revealed that profits derived from the partnership were being donated to Israeli soldiers. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which has almost five million members in the US, took a step toward a partial boycott of Israeli goods at its 2007 Churchwide Assembly in Chicago. Britain’s main university teachers union of 40,000 has voted to boycott two Israeli universities for allegedly restricting academic freedom and teaching in illegal settlements. And recently, British telecommunications company FreedomCall terminated its co-operation with Israel’s MobileMax due to its offensive in Gaza – all doing their bit to foster an environment in which it is unacceptable to promote Israel and its illicit policies.

So rather than contributing to the deceptive image of Israel as a legal state, we should be doing everything in our power to employ practical approaches in order to provide real protection to the people of Palestine. It is not difficult to reach out to the society and create awareness about the consequences of enhancing Israel’s profits. But before taking such a stance we must act on it ourselves, whether this means giving up our Coca-Cola craze, our daily dose of Starbucks, or swear to never again set foot in a Marks & Spencer store.

A good website to identify which companies support or are owned by Israel is http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-brands.html.

For those of us who may find it difficult to part with favourite brands, we must ask the vital question of what is more important – the comfort and convenience gained by benefiting from Israeli products or human life?  

Farah Masood is studying mathematics and finance at the University of Melbourne. She is interested in periodically writing articles on religious, community, and political issues for Islamic Insights.

About Farah Masood

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  • HiddenSoldier

    Great article, MA!

    I think many people are unaware of the fact that the maraja have issued these fatwas. Many of those who do know, still purchase Israeli products (and still drink Coke!)! :O May Allah guide us all and may the hundreds of thousasnds who rally and protest for the end of the Gaza crisis boycott all Israeli products together! 😉

  • Al Mujtaba

    If all the Muslim ummah understood and applied this to their life daily w’Allah Israel would not be as strong as it is today. Thankyou for bringing this to our attention! Well written and god bless

  • mohammed.husain

    It’s time to support the boycott. The Israelis want to continue their blockade on Gaza, the least we can do is relinquish our support for Israeli products. Perhaps we can also publicize the Palestinian products out there, to support their broken economy.

  • 5ashi3a

    just recently i stopped my addiction with cocacola and mcdonalds and other popular companies. and i thought i could never do it but here i am! thanks to Allah when we take one step he opends up all doors for us and makes things easier, its just that first step that is the hardest. i urge everyone to take that first step! and i promise you after that all will be easy ‘after hardship, there is ease!’

    I took this step without any knoweldge of these fatwas of these maraji and to be honest i was searching for a fatwa like that to back me up so that i may not turn back and i thank you sister Farah for your hard work and efforts
    keep it up!!


  • zahraAbdul

    salam sister

    thank you for this article. i didn’t even know it was haraam to buy from those companies!!! 😮 😥

  • silentsupporter

    JAZAKALLAH great article sister….A real eye-opener……thank you for the thoughts…Perhaps the next time we go ahead and buy products from these companies, we’ll be more vigilant……

  • frequent reader

    There are so many companies in the boycott lists we have been receiving. How realistic is it to boycott them?

    For example, intel is one of the companies. Most people are using computers with intel chips. How can we ignore this fact? The other thing is that there are far worse companies than those mentioned in the watch list that we never talk about. Last but not least, many big companies are exploiting innocents and contributing to strife in the name of profits like companies mining precious metals and stones, yet because we do not know or care about those situations we don’t bring up the issue of boycotts.

    Forgive me for being cynical, but while I agree with idea of boycotts of companies which are Israeli, I don’t see how realistically we can boycott transnational firms if we are to apply all the same rules that we do in shunning those that help the Israeli war machine.

  • OJ

    We have to start somewhere. Take the first step. Take the lead ‘frequent reader’ and stop the soft drinks that are brought into our Islamic Centers. That should be easy for everyone. Every single effort will count. Be like the little bird (or frog) who brought drops of water to put off the fire for Ibrahim (as)

  • masooma

    Insha’allah next week there may be some ideas in an article here related to your comment, frequent reader

  • frequent reader

    OJ, I don’t even like the soft drinks, but that’s for health reasons. Where I go the centre usually only has tea or water anyway.

  • masooma

    FYI, not all soft drinks are on the ban list. According to the source mentioned in the article, Coca-Cola products are included but not Pepsi products. The site says that Pepsi was even accused at on time of boycotting Israel and faced legal action from Jewish Anti-Defamation League in the United States.

  • fmasood

    Salam alaykum everyone, I appreciate your comments!

    Ed Abd Al Ghafur, that’s a great idea. I actually just did a quick google search and found this online Palestinian store– http://www.palestineonlinestore.com/

    Frequent reader, I understand where you’re coming from. It may not seem realistic to boycott every single brand and company that supports Israel, the important thing though is to make sure that we ARE doing our best. And with the heap of brands available today, there is always an alternative 🙂 It is our duty to seek them out.. as inconveniencing as it may be.

    Regarding other corporations who freely perpetrate injustice and strife, you are very right that there is little action against them. But this can change if those who are more aware, such as yourself, speak out and do their bit to inform the wider community about these companies. We’re all united against injustice, regardless of where or to whom it is happening. No innocent’s suffering is more important than another’s. So inshAllah with awareness will come change.

  • frequent reader

    Thanks sisters, you have given me some food for thought!