He wanted to know who these people calling for
boycotts on social media were and wondered if they were rich people
because only rich people could care about something happening so far
I told him nothing would come of these boycotts because, eventually,
whatever homegrown economic issues would trump the fervour of the
political class to gain mileage from the Palestinian issue. Not in those
words, of course, but close enough.
Who are these people calling
for boycotts, anyway? To the best of my knowledge, nobody from the
political class has openly called for boycotts of local business
Indeed, the political class has remained more or less
silent on the issue of boycotts but has engaged in various
controversial tactics of their own.
This is not to say that the
current batch of political operatives have called for a boycott when
they were not in power. In 2021, a group of opposition MPs anonymously
signed a letter calling for an end to the Israeli aggression and
upholding Palestinian rights. One of the “demands” were as follows:
products/services of, and/or mobilise institutional pressure to divest
from Israeli and international companies and banks that are complicit in
Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Calling for the
boycott without having the gumption to carry out such policies (for
oftentimes logical reasons) merely makes a mockery of the plight of
Palestinians and provides ammunition for those who claim that supporters
of the cause are insincere.
What this means is that those MPs who
signed this letter would be judged on their fidelity to the Palestinian
cause by how they carried out this agenda in Parliament, but more
importantly, how they advocated redefining international and local
partnerships based on the agenda of ending Israel’s apartheid policies.
course, since the letter was signed anonymously, we will never know if
these political operatives have the courage of their convictions.
to Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, there have been
complaints by netizens that TikTok is censoring “Palestinian” content
but Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim recently boasted that he secured a
proposed investment by TikTok, which was “…. quite big”.
on the one hand, a big tech company is accused of censoring Palestinian
content but on the other, it is welcomed into the Malaysian economic
landscape with open arms.
Grab and McDonald’s had to make
donations to the Palestinian cause to demonstrate that they were not
pro-Israel in what sounds more like extortion and not a humanitarian
We see all these political operatives donning the
Palestinian keffiyeh and shouting about the plight of the Palestinians
but the reality is that the political class understands how boycotts
would affect the majority polity, which is why they are too
pusillanimous to call for boycotts when they are steering the good ship