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The effectiveness of boycotting companies supportive of Israel

US President Joe Biden

Since the onset of the US-Israeli genocidal war on Gaza calls to boycott Israeli goods and companies complicit in the regime's crimes, or affiliated with the regime, have been getting louder on social media.

Two of the companies, Starbucks and McDonald's, have become the focus of people's anger due to their support for the Israeli regime and military forces.

Starbucks is also currently embroiled in a legal standoff with the Starbucks Workers United union, which it has sued over a ‘solidarity with Palestine’ message posted to the group's social media, but how successful have these boycotts been?

I want to say like a solid third of the usual amount of people that we get coming in are no longer showing up, and ...these are the type of people you see literally every day ordering all the time. They are not coming in. Boycotts work, keep it going, it works. I know oftentimes, especially living in the United States, being far away from the situation at hand, it seems like nothing we do on the other side of the world is working. This is working; you have to keep doing it.

Former Starbucks barista

These comments by an ex-Starbucks barista went viral on social media. But this is just one among many commentaries on the impact of the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel campaign.

Starbucks suffered billions of dollars in losses and has been forced to cut its annual sales forecast.

The company has admitted that its sales in West Asia struggled, but boycotts also hurt its outlets across the United States.

McDonald's is also feeling the pinch of the boycott, as it has reported its first quarterly sales miss in nearly four years. Weak sales growth at its international business division had sent the company's shares down by about 4%.

Other American multinational companies, including Burger King, KFC, and Pizza Hut, as well as brands such as Coca Cola Pepsi, Puma, and Zara that are overtly pro-Israel or have financial ties with Israel and investments there, have also come under fire and faced boycott calls.

This is the priority list for the campaigners around the world to sort of target and we see already this is happening. We want to see it sort of taken fair for it and escalating [sic] So these companies will be punished for supporting genocide.

Massoud Shajareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission

So there is a lot that can be done to further isolate the regime. One of the best strategies to support Palestinians is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

People of conscience all over the world are uniting to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.

The 'Axis of Genocide' is a phrase pro-Palestinian activists around the world have been using to describe the countries that have halted funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA.

The move has triggered grave concerns with UN officials warning that the agency will no longer be able to continue its operations from the end of February.

This could exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip as UNRWA has been a major lifeline for Palestinians in the war-ravaged coastal strip.

Almost the entire population in Gaza relies on UNRWA for basic necessities, including food, water, and, hygiene supplies. Also, nearly 45% of the population, including the displaced, is taking shelter in UNRWA-run schools, clinics, and other buildings.

Donors including the United States, Canada, Britain, as well as various other nations, suspended funding to UNRWA after Israel accused several of the UN agency's employees of involvement in the October 7th Al Aqsa Storm operation.

The UN agency says it has initiated an investigation into the allegations.

... and we've discovered in the last few weeks that UNRWA officials were complicit in the massacre. And I think it's time that the international community, and the UN itself, understand that UNRWA's mission has to end.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister

The recent accusations against UNRWA have not been backed by facts. Israel has long advocated for the dismantling of the agency, arguing that its mission is obsolete. Some political commentators say there were other incentives behind the West's move against the UN agency.

And this was a way to divert attention from Israeli crimes that the world knows now. And to turn attention towards whatever little infractions that some UNRWA staff may have undertaken.

Zafar Bangash, Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought

The Israeli allegations against UNRWA employees surfaced on the same day the International Court of Justice issued an interim ruling, ordering Israel to prevent genocidal acts and allow aid into Gaza.

The US government had a prompt response to the ICJ's ruling that Israel is plausibly committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The response was to defy the court's orders. Only a few mere hours later, the Biden administration became the first country to pause funding to UNRWA.

The move to defund UNRWA has drawn widespread condemnation; critics say while the US has refused to stop the killing of Palestinians during Israel's months-long onslaught on Gaza, Washington was quick to respond to the Israeli allegation in a ruse to divert attention from the blatant Israeli crimes.

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