Monday, March 20, 2006
Renewing The Imperative Boycott
By Wafaa' Al-Natheema
In this Third Anniversary of the war on IRAQ, I renew my boycott of American companies and goods, which I have not ceased since March 19, 2003 and include its details below. When I wrote my boycott statement then, I neither knew that I would last that long nor did I think the war will continue for three vicious years! On March 19, 2003, I sent an email to all the hospitals, law firms and businesses (see below) that I worked for as a translator telling them that I shall not work for them or any American company for as long as the USA is at war with IRAQ. A couple of them called me few months later for a job, but I refused and stated my reasons again. On that first day of the war, I also recorded an outgoing message in the voice mail of my business and home phones informing every caller about my ceasing of work at and affiliation with American companies for as long as the USA is in IRAQ! I kept the phone outgoing message for three months.
I had hoped that my income would come from working with non-American companies and organizations outside of the USA, but I earned nothing for three years. I had to sell my own condominium in 2003 and live off the savings. In another attempt to earn money, I published my poetry book in 2004, but I sold very few, not enough to pay any bill! Regardless, I will try my very best not to give up or even partially compromise this boycott. This is one of the few things I am proud of doing since the 2003 war began. Watching the crimes take place hourly in IRAQ without being able to do anything has been torturous for me. I would have felt oceanic guilt and sank in a deeper depression had I not boycotted American companies and goods! The boycott has maintained my self-esteem.
My attire is still Arabic and Indian and the perfumes I use are still made by companies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The food I eat and shopping I do have never changed since March 19, 2003.
Below is the statement I wrote and emailed to people in five continents. I hope you help forward it to more people in commemoration of the WAR’s third anniversary. More importantly, I hope that you boycott American/western companies and products.
The March 19, 2003 Statement
This is a personal, an official and comprehensive boycott of American companies and to a lesser extent of American goods. Effective on Wednesday, March 19, the first day of war, I boycotted working for all American companies (including hospitals).
My income beginning now will be from private tutoring (in subjects like Algebra, Arabic language, calculus, chemistry, English, physics and some engineering courses), translation from and to Arabic (in many fields: Medical, legal, technology, literature and other), writing in non-American magazines and newspapers as well as editing. I also welcome translation jobs for Arab embassies of countries that DO NOT house American military.
I am exploring the possibility of finding a job elsewhere in Europe, the Arab world or other parts of Asia as long as these countries DO NOT house American military bases. My credentials (work experience and education) can be found at http://wafaasportfolio.blogspot.com/
Since the wave of hate crimes and the later war on Afghanistan in September/October 2001, I have boycotted:
1. Western clothes, and have been wearing Arabic and Indian clothes.
2. Western cosmetics, and have been using Saudi Arabian oil perfumes, which are superb, and should be encouraged and purchased instead of western perfumes all over the Arab world and beyond.
3. American theaters and movies, and have been watching videos at home instead or sometimes by going to an Indian theater here in Boston.
4. Western restaurants and cuisine, and have been eating in eastern restaurants with far tastier and healthier cuisine such as Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Chinese restaurants, and for the most part, I cook at home.
My Grocery shopping of all items that are available in Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Indian or Japanese stores is only done at these markets and not at American supermarkets.
I hope my boycott has given you some ideas.
It is easier to boycott western products when you don't live in the West. Some people in Jordan have been advocating the purchase of French and German products instead of American goods (see below). Just because France and Germany were against the war, it does not mean that Arabs and non-Arab Middle Easterners should support French and German products. After all, they are all in it for their interest and not because they care about the well being of Iraqis, other Middle Easterners or Moslems. The bottom line is the competition between the Dollar and the Euro. That is why France and Germany were against the 2003 war. How can we forget their stance and that of all Europe in 1991?
PLEASE boycott American companies and goods. If you have some savings and can handle boycotting your work at American companies, please do so and announce publicly that it is in protest of the war. Especially if you own a business, you are your own boss and can handle the expenses for sometime; you can indeed boycott offering services and goods while publicly announcing your protest against the war. Below is information about a worldwide boycott of US companies and goods for more ideas. An international and SERIOUS boycott of American/European companies and goods is the right thing to do at this time of vicious WAR against IRAQ and threats for future attacks on other countries.
There are eighteen and collectively, VERY RESOURCEFUL, Arab countries. It is time for them to be self sufficient, at least, for products that are manufactured in the Arab world. Why import them from outside? If the Arab governments have failed to boycott the industrial west, then the people MUST EMBRACE IT. The same can be said about the non-Arab Middle Eastern communities, Moslems and Africans worldwide.
It is hypocritical on the part of people to point the finger at their leaders thinking that they are the only puppets and collaborators when the people are not doing even the simplest thing, which is boycotting western goods/companies despite having alternatives, and when the rich amongst them continue to invest in western banks!
To the Iraqi woman who called my boycott of western clothes taTarruf (or extremism), I like to say to her that leaving our culture and clothes behind and adopting aspects of western culture, including our attire, was not only a sign of imbalance and extremism, but of inferiority and even partial defeat.
Worldwide Boycott of US Companies and Goods March 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: International group for Direct Economic Action against war (IDEA) via Patrick Baggott (USA) 1-757-722-0188 firstname.lastname@example.org
Marinella Correggia (Italy) email@example.com
Pattrice Jones (USA) 1-410-651-4934 firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact information for other organizations mentioned in this release may be found following the text of this release. In addition, IDEA can supply journalists with contact information for citizens who are participating in boycott efforts. Anti-War Boycotts Proliferate Worldwide "I've started a personal boycott on products with a 'Made in USA' label." Thus begins an email missive from United States Air Force retiree and Korean War veteran Sanford M. Russell, who opines that such a boycott, if undertaken by all who oppose the USA's campaign against Iraq, might result in "decisive pressure that could prevent the coming massacre."
Halfway around the world, the Balochistan Post prints an open letter from a US citizen, in which the unnamed citizen asserts that "If the people of the world are serious about their opposition to a US attack on Iraq, they must stop giving their money to the US military-industrial complex." These US citizens are only two of an increasing number of people who support or already implementing economic direct action against the war. As it has become clear that the Bush administration intends to prosecute a war against Iraq regardless of international opinion, calls for boycotts of US goods and services have escalated and proliferated all around the globe.
From the County Donegal man who suggests to the local newspaper that his fellow citizens should "show them an old Irish tactic: the boycott" to the Californians who marched through a shopping mall chanting "we won't go shopping while bombs are dropping,'' more and more individuals and organizations are contemplating a shift from merely expressive forms of dissent, such as marches and rallies, to more direct acts of opposition, suchas tax resistance and boycotts. The growing international boycott movement is a grassroots phenomenon, with boycott websites and calls to action springing up independently in diverse locations. Boycott strategies are also diverse, ranging from refusal to purchase any US or UK goods to ostracism of only those corporations known to support or likely to profit from the war.
For example: The organization For Mother Earth (which has offices in Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka) is calling for an international boycott of both specific brands (such as General Electric) and specific industries (such as US airlines and US automobile manufacturers) while also offering those who pledge to participate the option of saying "I will boycott all US products"In New Zealand, the Spend for Peace campaign is calling for consumers to boycott specific US brands (such as Dow and Dupont) and to notify the companies that they are doing so.In the USA, Be the Cause has also targeted specific brands (such as Kraft and Philip Morris) for a consumer boycott.Also in the USA, the influential Adbusters magazine and website have launched a "Boycott Brand America" campaign, which asks participants to pledge to boycott American corporate brands "from the moment the war begins and to the best of my ability until the empire learns to listen"In Jordan, a committee representing 14 opposition parties and 14 trade unions has called for citizens to boycott US goods and to purchase French and German goods instead.In Australia, Peace Action promotes boycotting "as a positive and powerful alternative to 'fighting for peace'" and provides lists of companies linked to "warmongering"In the UK, the Stop the War Coalition has expressed support for the ongoing Greenpeace boycott of Exxon-Esso-Mobil.
The European Social Forum, which encompasses a multiplicity of organizations from many countries, has called for a boycott of all US oil companies. In both Spain and Iceland, peace and justice activists have called for boycotts of all US products. In Belgium, Citoyens-Consommateurs Scandalises par la Politique Internationale des Etats-Unis have called for a boycott of American oil companies. The Iraq Action Committee of South Africa has reaffirmed its call for a wholesale boycott of all US goods. The US-based cyber campaign known as We Won't Shop Until Attack Talk Stops asks Americans to reduce their consumer spending, asking participants to pledge to reduce their own spending by a set amount. The International group for Direct Economic Action against war promotes a flexible boycott strategy, serving as a clearinghouse for various boycott proposals and encouraging consumers to choose the boycott implementation that makes the most sense to them.Almost all of the organizations that promote the idea of boycotting specific companies target symbols of US hegemony such as McDonalds and CocaCola. Most also specify General Electric, as a major military contractor that also produces consumer goods.A number of nontraditional boycotts also have been proposed.
For example: In Jordan, the Committee for Defending the Nation and Countering Normalization (which includes 14 professional associations and 13 opposition parties) has called for a kind of reverse boycott, urging Jordanians to refuse to provide goods or services to US troops stationed in that country.In the USA, consumers concerned about high gas prices have joined the ongoing boycott of Exxon-Mobil in hopes that this will inspire price reductions.
In Denmark, actresses participating in the reading of the play Lysistrata have raised the cry "no peace, no sex" and are encouraging women to withhold sex from any man who favors warThe momentum of the anti-war boycott movement gained a big boost on 10 March, when the "human shields" in Iraq released a statement calling for a boycott of all US goods if the US stages a preemptive attack on Iraq. Because the people who are voluntarily risking their lives in hopes of preventing war are very much respected by the mainstream peace movements, it is likely that this call to boycott will be heeded more widely than those that have come from other individuals and organizations.The rationale for the boycott as an anti-war tactic has both ethical and practical components. At the ethical level, boycotters believe in consistency between speech and action. As IDEA member Richard Rosenthal says, "If you say you are for peace, you shouldn't buy war."
At the practical level, boycotters are intent on reducing the funds available to what President (and WWII military commander) Dwight David Eisenhower called "the military-industrial complex."Many political analysts believe that the tactic of the boycott, if embraced by the peace movement as a whole, is the only form of non-violent direct action that could potentially stop or mitigate US attacks on Iraq. If the tens of millions of people who protested against war in February were to 'vote with their wallets' by boycotting, the impact on US corporations (and US tax revenues) would be significant. In addition to this direct economic impact, a successful boycott effort will influence political leaders by influencing their corporate sponsors. The corporations express their dissatisfaction to leaders like Bush and Blair, leading them to change course.
Corporations such as Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonalds, and Exxon-Esso-Mobil are already the targets of boycotts expressing consumer dissatisfaction with corporate globalization, sweatshop labor, factory farming, and pollution of the environment. Many of these companies have seen profits dip as a result of such boycotts. In the Middle East, where the boycott movement is strongest, some American companies have seen sales plummet as much as 65 percent.Those calling for boycotts point out that the millions who have marched against war worldwide are potentially an even more powerful bloc of consumers. According to IDEA member Pattrice Jones, "As trade globalization turns more and more of the world into a market, we have less and less power as citizens but more and more power as consumers. While we would like to regain true political sovereignty, in the interim we can deploy our consumer power to good effect."
Online sources of further informationInternational group for Direct Economic Action against war (IDEA) http://www.boycottwar.net/http://boycottisraeligoods.org/ Adbustershttp://www.adbusters.org/
Be the Causehttp://www.bethecause.org/
Citoyens-Consommateurs Scandalises par la Politique Internationale des Etats-Unis http://users.skynet.be/plusdepetroleus/tracts.htm
For Mother Earthhttp://www.motherearth.org/USboycott/
Spend for Peacehttp://www.spendforpeace.co.nz/
We Won't Shop Until Attack Talk Stops
Sources used in preparation of this press release:
BALOCHISTAN POST [Pakistan] (10 Mar 2003) Open Letter from a US Citizen to the People of the World
Crescent International [Canada] (01 Feb 2003) American companies feeling the impact of Muslim boycotts
Monday Morning [Lebanon] (10 Mar 2003) NEW CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF US GOODS OVER IRAQ CRISIS
Mercury News [USA] (09 Mar 03) Peace march topped at Santana Row's door
The Scotsman [Scotland] (26 Feb 2003) Global brands face consumer boycott in protest at Bush plans.
The Star [South Africa] (11 Mar 2003) Mandela says he's too old to make trip to Baghdad
Reuters (10 Mar 2003) Human shields urge global action against Iraq war
Sanford M. Russell [Mexico] (12 Mar 2003) No Made in USA [posting to online discussion list]
UPI International Desk (05 Mar 2003) Jordan uneasy over U.S. boycott appeal