Sunday, March 7, 2010

To Boycott H&M or Not to Boycott H&M

Recently, there have been calls to boycott H&M on the grounds that they are opening two stores in Israel in March, and a third one in September.

Naturally, I'd rather see that no companies invest in countries that so flagrantly violate human rights and international law as Israel does. And I'm all for boycotting everything Israeli, as you well know, because I believe that Israel will not stop their illegal occupation of Palestine or their brutally violent policies against Palestinians unless and until it becomes too expensive for them to continue.

But the problem is so much bigger than H&M. Zara already has stores in Israel. Mango too. Top Shop. And major make-up brands (but not i.d. Bare Escentuals--lucky me!), shoe brands, sports clothes brands. Computers, cell phones, electronics in general--they all sell their products in Israel. Major food companies do too. 

Of course one solution could be to just boycott almost everything.

(Add to the list all the companies that exploit workers in their factories in Asia, or those who destroy natural resources in developing countries, or those who dump subsidized food products in weak economies, and there's basically nothing left to buy).

I get distressed when I  think of it and I feel ashamed when I shop. But I do, nevertheless, shop. Because I'm sort of stuck in society as we have constructed it and don't have time to knit my own clothes or grow my own food. And I'm too materialistic not to buy new clothes and shoes even if I don't exactly need them.

So I choose my battles. Right now my major battle is with Apartheid Israel and their racist laws, policies and practices against Palestinians.

If you, like me, would like to do something to make it too expensive for Israel to continue their occupation of Palestine, but you're not prepared to boycott pretty much everything, start by boycotting everything Israeli. Israeli companies, Israeli culture, Israeli academic institutions. Do it actively. Be sure to check the origin of everything you buy--citrus fruits, persimmons, avocados... check everything and be consequent.

Second (or rather, simultaneously), boycott everything that comes from the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank (which, for clarity, includes all settlements).

Thirdly, boycott all companies (no matter where they are from) that invest in or somehow contribute to the illegal settlements and/or the illegal Israeli occupation.

If you are a diplomat or an influential decision-maker, fourthly: cut all diplomatic ties with Israel until they show honest and reliable commitment to solving the conflict and follow it with real action on the ground. 

This way you will target those that contribute to Israel's policies and practices most directly, you will make a statement, and in the long run, you will be one of those who make it too expensive for Israel to continue.

But companies that open a store in Israel... that's not where I'd focus my boycotting.

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4 comments:

Ruby said...

And while you're at it, BUYcott Palestinian products to support Palestine!

Mirkha said...

im on ur side.. i dont wanna or can afford to NOT buy H&M clothes... what can i say?! I chose my battles.. just like u! also-- howa shakloh eh?! haha!

vi köper INGET israeliskt men jag "råkade" köpa sojakorv the other day... im sorry! sojakorvs sorry!!!! :S

Ruby said...

Yes, and the main problem isn't that international clothing companies open stores here anyway (even though it isn't perhaps ideal). The problem is all the economic support to Israel, either through direct foreign aid, through buying Israeli products, or through investments in Israeli companies... money that in the end is used to uphold Israel's racist occupation regime.

And about those sojakorvs... I think this particular batch was made in Denmark. ;)

Anonymous said...

Since Ruby decides to boycott a democracy that protects its citizens from Muslim Extremists like Hamas that blow up their own, she also supports Palestinians demise. Very sad, very ignorant and misinformed. Either you really have no education in matters of the middle east or you're just overfilled with hate and anti-Semitism. If you really cared for humanity you would boycott what Iran or Saudi Arabia are doing to their people. How they condemn and punish Gays, take away women's freedoms and peoples basic rights to freedom of speech. Israel on the other hand has Arab citizens, has three religious quarters in the heart of its main city, has a gay pride festival every year, and equal gender rights.

Pathetic and shameful where 'Ruby' chooses to channel her efforts.