Boycotts and the key to success

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“From the River to the Sea” and “Down with Starbucks,” is what a lot of us are hearing right now, both around school or online. Palestine vs Israel is mentioned constantly, on the streets and in everyone’s instagram feed. One particular topic that is more relevant to students is boycotting brands that allegedly support Israel. The question that always follows is, do boycotts actually work? 

Boycotts have been used throughout history, even dating back to 1891 with the Iranian Tobacco Boycott, which is stated to be one of the first boycotts. Even with success stories, many people don’t believe boycotts actually cause real change that can end or lead to an end of a significant, impactful event. But we indeed see boycott successes in many eras. From 1948 to 1994, South Africa allowed racial segregation, but in 1959, the Anti-Apartheid Movement started off as a boycott movement. International shoppers boycotted South African products. This was to protest apartheid, which was finally dismantled in 1994. 

Boycotts are good ways to help when there isn’t much else you can do. Boycotts offer ways to put money towards your values and stand up for what you believe in. When boycotts are well organized, it allows people to follow their beliefs in a way that’s easy and relatively painless. However, boycotts are only effective when they gain widespread support. In the past, you needed to perform physical actions to initiate a boycott. Now, we have social media that helps activists spread word and boycott brands. Brands thrive off attention and consumption. When consumers don’t consume, the brand loses profit and might be forced to close. This fulfills the purpose of boycotts: to inflict change within brands for believing certain beliefs that one doesn’t agree with. 

Boycotts can only be fully effective when what is being boycotted, is boycotted for the right reason. Starbucks is one of the main corporations that people are boycotting, due to the owner allegedly supporting Israel. But, research shows that Starbucks doesn’t indeed fund Israel, so the boycotting that’s going for Palestine isn’t valid and won’t do anything to help Palestine. Instead of spending time boycotting something based on ideas that are false, pro-Palestine activists can spend money, time, and effort on boycotting brands that actually support Israel to cause a real change. This scenario is one of the main issues regarding boycotts: a boycott cannot be deemed as successful if it’s not doing anything for the cause being fought for. 

Boycotts can be just the beginning of the end of a conflict and history proves that with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a famous boycott, which led the way for the fight for rights for African Americans. The movement began the modern Civil Rights Movement and established Martin Luther King Jr. as its leader. Whoever’s reading this can make a difference by simply boycotting to fight for what you believe in. You can be the reason for important social political changes. All you have to do is take action.  

Hanya Hussain is a senior at Washington High School. She was born in Hayward, but has lived in Fremont all her life. This is her first year at the paper and she's really excited to participate in the Hatchet. She's interested in writing about other people and their perspectives in life. She is a cheerleader and loves to hang out with her friends in her free time. She also likes to take walks and go on hikes whenever she can. In college, she wants to study criminal justice.

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