Zeeshan Hasan is a Bangladeshi “leftist” businessman who is appealing to his people and asking them to step up their economic boycott of Israel.
Zeeshan Hasan’s editorial raises several good points.
1. “JANUARY’S massacre in Gaza by Israeli forces should give us all pause to think. Are we really totally powerless to stop Israeli armed aggression against Palestinian civilians? The answer is, actually, no we are not completely powerless.”
Many Arabs and Muslims, in majority nations and in the West, and Palestinian support would concur with the initial sentiment. We watched the Israeli massacre of over 1,300 people, over 400 of the children, and many of us felt powerless to stop the aggression. We attended protests, myself three, but after leaving I could not help but think that after marching for hours in the streets of Washington DC in the rain that all our efforts did not materialize into much beyond a public display. Although we cannot yet significantly influence U.S. policy in the region, there is something we can do.
2. “South Africa, the original apartheid state, was brought to its knees by an economic boycott against its policies. Yes, Bangladesh is a small country and far from the Middle East; but our imports are bought with the same American dollars that support the Israeli economy, and we should utilise them intelligently.
The economic boycott of South Africa was about more than boycotting South African products; it also targeted multi-nationals that invested in (and thus economically supported) the apartheid state. Bangladesh already disallows direct imports from Israel through its import policy; but Bangladeshi consumers have yet to take action against multi-nationals that have the dubious distinction of directly supporting Zionist land grabbing, or receiving Israeli government awards recognising their investments in Israel.”
Israel is a small country and due to its limited domestic market its economy is export-oriented. Let’s assume that a boycott is Israeli goods is a given, but what about all those American et al companies that invest and export from Israel. If we are to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation, Israel and Israelis must feel the punch where its hurts must: their wallets. Several companies invest heavily in Israel, Intel’s own Israeli subsidiary exports over $1 billion of goods a year, those companies should now become the focus of a global boycott.
3. ” In this way, we can pressure multi-nationals to stop doing business in Israel. They should decide which is the more important market; Bangladesh with its 150 million consumers, or Israel with only 7 million.”
By boycotting companies that have more than a fair share of investments in Israel, we impose a cost on them that will eventually lead them to cede the Israeli market as the cost-benefit relationship of doing business in Israel falls into former against the latter. This is not just theory. Businesses make such calculations all the time and recently a British telecom firm cut ties to Israel once a boycott effort targeted it.
For those outside the corridors of political power, our dollars speak louder in an economic boycott than any words vomited by U.S. politicians.