By: Petra Chase, Arts & Culture Editor
Content warning: descriptions of war, death, and genocide.
After at least 240 hostages were brutally taken by Hamas militants on October 7, Israel declared war on Gaza under the guise of self-defense. As of writing this article, the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) atrocious bombardment on Gaza has killed over 10,000 people, including more than 4,100 children. There have been brutal bombings on hospitals, where thousands seek treatment and shelter. A blockade is preventing food, water, and medical aid from entering the area, while internet and electricity remain scarce, cutting off Palestinians in Gaza from the outside world. There is no justification for these acts.
As individuals witnessing these horrors, it’s understandable to feel powerless, but we owe it to those that are suffering unfathomable horrors to do everything we can to stop this from happening. We must remember we are part of a collective, and targeted collective actions can put pressure on those at the top to take action, and most urgently, call for a ceasefire. One of the ways everyone can take part is by boycotting brands that are complicit in what leading international scholars are calling genocide.
According to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Coalition, ending corporate “complicity with Israel’s genocidal regime is more urgent than ever.” The BDS Coalition aims to lead targeted boycotts, which means focusing efforts on a “smaller number of carefully selected companies and products for maximum impact.” Long boycott lists circulating on social media can be counterproductive, as they scatter efforts and may not always be credible. By focusing our efforts on a few corporations, other corporations will get the message that their “time will come” if they do not act. Targeted boycotts have a track record of success throughout history, from the US Civil Rights movement, to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and the Indian anti-colonial struggle.
The BDS Coalition also provides location-specific boycott lists, like the Canadian Boycott List of Shame. The list consists of “Israeli products and products produced by corporations profiting from the occupation.” It’s important to highlight that this is not a boycott of Jewish businesses, as many Jewish businesses and individuals do not support the IDF.
Here are some of the most prominent companies for SFU community members to boycott. Find the full list and more information at bdscoalition.ca/boycott-list-of-shame.
Two of the owners, who together own 68% of shares, founded the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers, “aimed at encouraging foreigners to join the Israeli army, and pursue their studies in Israel.” Get your books from Massy Books or Iron Dog Books instead!
Planning on buying new shoes or sportswear? Make sure it’s not Puma! They sponsor the Israel Football Association, including “racist teams like Beitar, teams in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, and an entire structure of Israeli colonialism.”
Next time you’re choosing a brand of hummus, keep in mind that this brand is “produced in a joint venture between PepsiCo and the Strauss Group,” which “financially supports the Israeli occupation army.” You can easily make your own hummus at home, or purchase a variety of other brands.
Banks: HSBC, Scotiabank, RBC
All three of these banks invest in complicit companies. HSBC is “a major shareholder in companies selling weapons and military technology.” If you have an account with them, you can easily transfer to another bank. Vancity notably does not invest in fossil fuel companies.
Make sure Sodastream isn’t on your holiday shopping list, as the products are made by an “Israeli company in the occupied Naqab.” Moreover, “SodaStream is complicit in the ongoing displacement projects targeting Palestinian Bedouin villages and homes.”
Many liquor stores carry wine that is marked as Israeli, but are grown on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land. With a location on SFU Burnaby campus, BC Liquor is one of these stores. Make sure you’re cautious of this when buying wine at any liquor store.
The following are not on the BDS Coalition’s list as of writing, but are important grassroots boycotts worth mentioning:
If Starbucks’ union-busting activity wasn’t enough to steer you away from them, they recently sued Starbucks Workers United over a social media post expressing solidarity with Palestinians. While Starbucks isn’t on the BDS’ targeted boycott list, they’re included because of their locations on campus, and because it’s so easy to find alternatives. Renaissance Cafe is a great option, with delicious holiday drinks, too!
McDonalds’ Israeli locations are supplying free food to IDF soldiers as they conduct this brutal attack on Gaza. In an Instagram post, they said, “we intend to donate thousands of meals every day to soldiers in the field and in drafting areas [ . . . ] We opened 5 restaurants that were open only for this purpose.” While they’re not on the BDS Coalition’s targeted list, there’s no reason to keep buying McDonalds when there are so many other alternatives!
Divestment: Simon Fraser University
The “D” in BDS stands for divestment, meaning “pressuring governments, institutions and investment funds to exclude and divest” from complicit companies.
Did you know SFU owns shares in war contractors, organizations that provide products to military governments, such as: Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, and CAE Inc? BAE Systems supplies F-35 fighter jets, which are flown by Israel. Our community has a responsibility to put pressure on SFU to divest, and take other actions. You can do so by signing the open letter. Find it, and other calls to action, at the SFU Student for Justice in Palestine Instagram account, @sfu.sjp.