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Are the boycotts against major corporate brands making an impact on peace in Gaza

Khalid Hafeez Shahryar

Are the boycotts against major corporate brands making an impact on peace in Gaza

Boycotts have a long and impactful history of achieving their immediate goals while also driving progressive social change. One notable example is the British rejection of sugar produced by slaves in 1791. When Parliament refused to make slavery illegal, thousands of pamphlets supporting the boycott were printed. As a result, sugar sales dropped by almost half or a third. In just 23 months, sales of slavery-free Indian sugar soared tenfold. This led to stores prioritizing sugar from “free men,” laying the groundwork for fairer business practices.

In more recent times, the Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement emerged around 2005, endorsed by Palestinian civil rights groups as a nonviolent way to pressure Israel. Over 150 Palestinian organizations, including labor unions, women’s groups, and business associations, joined the BDS campaign. It aims to boycott businesses complicit in Palestinian oppression, demanding compliance with international law.

While the BDS movement has faced criticism for its effectiveness, recent responses to Israel’s actions in Gaza have garnered support. Customers in various nations have boycotted companies allegedly involved in Palestinian persecution. Major brands like Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC, and Zara have faced backlash for their ties to Israel or handling of the conflict. For instance, Starbucks faced a significant loss after criticism over a deleted tweet supporting Palestinians.

Boycotts have a history of influencing corporate and state policies. In 2005, Muslim communities globally boycotted the Danish corporation Arla after a controversial illustration in a Danish newspaper. Arla took two years to rebuild its reputation in Muslim countries.

According to the Harvard Business Review, successful boycotts require deeply concerned consumers, minimal participation costs, clear issues, and appropriate media coverage. Though boycotts have been effective in various contexts, Israel’s economic stability and backing from powerful nations like the USA and EU pose challenges. However, persistent and well-publicized boycotts can still influence public opinion and pressure governments and businesses to take action.

While many large businesses may wait out boycotts, sustained international pressure is crucial for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. Though Israel has navigated limitations from the Muslim world, major powers’ sanctions and global attention remain vital for meaningful change.

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Khalid Hafeez Shahryar

Khalid Hafeez Shahryar

I completed my MBA from Superior University in 2008. For the past fifteen years, I have been working with the Government of Punjab to eradicate polio, COVID-19, dengue fever, and other infectious diseases through preventive measures and enhanced immunization. Currently, I am pursuing an MS in Management Sciences at Superior University.


Please note that all opinions, views, statements, and facts conveyed in the article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official policy or position of Chaudhry Abdul Rehman Business School (CARBS). CARBS assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content. When interpreting and applying the information provided in the article, readers are advised to use their own discretion and judgement.

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