Mumbai: The guns have fallen silent in Gaza as the Palestinians and Israel negotiate 'lasting peace' in the midst of a temporary but extended truce between the two rivals. But the silent guns have failed in diluting the “Boycott Israel” calls, instead giving a new lease of life in India and other parts of the world to the global campaign to boycott the Zionist and the foreign companies that do business with it.
[Protesters in Maharashtra's Aurangabad city dump soft drinks in sewage gutter. (Photo: Supplied)]
The clamorous ‘Boycott Israel’ campaigns are not only being run on the social media and internet, and through SMSes, but a massive amount is also being used by some NGOs for advertisements in leading newspapers. In some cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Hyderabad and Malegaon, specially prepared charts listing Israeli and affiliate products are also being freely distributed.
And, they are not without results. A source associated with the Mumbai Hotels’ Association said that their soft drinks sale has fallen to 10-20%, especially in the Muslim dominated areas of Mumbai.
“I would be lying if I say the boycott appeals have no impact. The Pepsi, Cola and other soft drinks and beverages are easily identified as Israeli products. We see a huge drop in our regular sales of these products”, he said while talking to ummid.com.
Hoteliers too are reluctant to stock Pepsi, Cola and other brands, fearing losses. They say that customers are outrightly rejecting the soft drinks, their favourites once.
“Pepsi, Cola, Sprite or Fanta are no more customers’ first choice. They are now asking for soft drinks of other brands, and are even ready to local brands like Sosyo, MeccaCola and Pinch-Zeera”, Gyasuddin Shaikh, a hotelier, said.
At many places in Mumbai, restaurant owners have themselves placed the signboards saying they are no more selling Pepsi, Cola and other Israeli brands, and they are boycotting all US and Israeli brands.
Some restaurants also have paper-bill urging customers to boycott Israeli and US products, including beverages Coca Cola and Pepsi.
"We do not want to strengthen the hands of the killers of humanity," the bill reads that also lists Nestle and Nescafe.
In Maharshtra's Aurangabad city, some tea-stall and restaurant owners destroyed soft drinks worth thousands of rupees to protest againist Israeli bombardment on Gaza.
Interestingly, to counter these boycott calls, at some places in Mumbai, soft drinks are offered for more than 50% discount.
Elsewhere in the world, one barometer of the campaign is the Buycott mobile application, which is designed to help social activists of all stripes raise consumer awareness of their causes. The app allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a product to determine who made it and to cross-check against the boycott drives the shopper has chosen.
[In Maharshtra's Aurangabad city, some tea-stall and restaurant owners destroyed soft drinks worth thousands of rupees to protest against Israeli bombardment on Gaza. (Photo: Supplied)]
All three of Buycott’s top trending campaigns called for boycotts of products made in Israel and companies that do business with it. “Long live Palestine boycott Israel” was No. 1, at 262,321, followed by “Avoid Israel settlement products” at 142,021 and “Boycott des produits sioniste en France, at 4,285, according to Haaretz.
A campaign against genetically-modified farm products was fourth and a pro-Israel campaign, “Support Israel and boycott terrorist organizations” was No. 5, at 6,768.
The trending figure refers not to the number of followers but to how quickly the campaign is gaining them. “Long live Palestine” had just 461 members on July 7, the eve of Operation Protective Edge.
“I noticed three weeks ago that we were seeing an unusual spike in traffic, but there hadn’t been any articles written about the app or Israel campaigns,” Ivan Pardo, the California developer who launched the app a year ago, told Forbes magazine. “Next thing I knew Buycott was a top 10-app in the U.K. and the Netherlands, and No. 1 in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Word was spreading through social media.”
Meanwhile, a dedicated app, Boycott Israel, which says it aims to encourage awareness about companies that help Israel, has had tens of thousands of downloads. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which has been leading the drive against Israel, plans its own app.
Hugh Lanning, chair of the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told The International Business Times last week that he saw signs that the boycott campaign was becoming mainstream.
“We get the feeling that people are anxious. Individuals who have been outraged by what they’ve seen want ways in which they can individually protest. Boycott actions are being seen as a way the person in the street can say: out with that,” he said.
Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee chain, felt the boycott pressure building enough that it felt compelled to respond over the weekend. Although the chain pulled out of Israel in 2003 after a brief foray, its founder and chairman, Howard Schultz, is Jewish and was being accused of donating money to the Israel Defense Forces.
“Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?” the company asked in a question-and-answer section. “No. This is absolutely untrue. ... Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false.”