behind calls to boycott Israel, a real business – L’Express

behind calls to boycott Israel a real business – LExpress

Each cause has its supporters, its detractors and… its opportunists. Since the start of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, calls to ban brands accused of supporting Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime have been increasing all over the world in support of the Palestinian cause. At the head of the gondola: the “BDS” campaign (for “boycott, divestment and sanctions”), launched in 2005, and whose French branch has relays from associative circles – among the signatories of the BDS operation in France, find the Peasant Confederation or even the French Union of Muslim Consumers – even in the political sphere. On March 16, rebellious MP Thomas Portes posted on his

Unsurprisingly, some of the brands called into question (either directly by the BDS campaign or by popular initiatives) have been affected, like the fast food giant McDonald’s, which in February published a quarterly turnover lower than the expectations – which had not happened to him for almost four years. But would this movement, often analyzed through the prism of the damage it generates among its targets, also produce winners?

“BDS safe alternatives”

At first glance, Naz’s accounts, aka “bdsbabe”, on TikTok (26,000 subscribers) and Instagram (13,000 subscribers) reflect all the powder pink codes of beauty influence. Except for one detail: on her social networks, the young woman offers to “exhibit brands with links to Israel” and to offer “BDS safe alternatives”. Between two vlogs chronicling a beauty routine stripped of any connection with “Zionists” a few discreet promotional codes sometimes slip in… On February 7, for example, the most assiduous of its followers could thus benefit from recommendations concerning products from the Heimish brand, while getting a discount in case of purchase. Same, two days later: a 15% discount when ordering Omayma Skin brand products. The two skincare brands as well as the young woman did not respond to requests from L’Express.

READ ALSO: Israeli-Palestinian conflict: how to escape the trap, by Yuval Noah Harari

Very clever is he who knows how to fathom the sincerity of a commitment. But, in fact, “some even take advantage of these boycott campaigns in a commercial or communitarian logic (or both!), by putting forward ‘alternative’ brands likely to please the target they are targeting”, analyzes historian Marc Knobel.

TikTok always. With nearly 75,000 subscribers, the influencer Hattek HB3 has also invested in the boycott niche. His arguments: not the creaminess of a “BDS free” cream, but the defense of the interests of the Muslim community. To the point of getting annoyed when some attribute “merit [des boycotts] to the French.” “It was the Muslims who started this. Not the French.” Even if it means giving a few helping hands to alternative brands that would find favor in his eyes? In a video, the influencer promoted a drink (not yet available for sale) developed by “a sister and a brother of the community.” “We force-fed these multinationals [comprendre : celles à boycotter]we gave them money they didn’t know what to do with, and now they are killing our children. […] These are Muslims who created a brand. […] I count on you. We will consume, we will buy and we will ensure that it becomes there community drink”, he got excited. Asked as well as the brand about the content of this video, Hattek HB3 did not wish to comment. “The only interviews I accept are those from Muslim media” , he replied to L’Express.

TikTok, place of community influence

“Since the start of the conflict in the Middle East, the engagement rates [NDLR : qui permettent de mesurer les interactions des utilisateurs d’un réseau social, ou des abonnés d’un compte, vis-à-vis d’une publication] that ‘BDS free’ content arouses (ranging from calls for targeted boycotts to proposals for alternative brands) are very important on social networks and have nothing to compare with those of the calls for boycotts which may have emerged thanks to the war in Ukraine”, analyzes Marion Darrieutort, specialist in influence strategies and president of the agency The Arcane. Among the possible explanations put forward by her: the important religious and community dimension that this conflict entails. “But TikTok is become the preferred social network for influence and community marketing. This obviously has a significant impact on the brands that are taken to task. But certainly also on these others presented in mirror as alternatives.

READ ALSO: Gilles Kepel: “Hamas achieved an even greater victory than 9/11”

Speaking to L’Express, the HalalBooking brand, which offers “Islamic travel” (but “no accommodation in occupied Palestine”) and appears in numerous lists of alternative brands, confirms seeing “an increasing number of influencers and users social media recommend to use [ses services] rather than others [agences de voyages en ligne] who are on the boycott list.” As for its financial performance, the company makes no secret of the “notable increase in user engagement and bookings [et de] demand due to boycotts”. But assures that it does not use the boycott campaign “proactively” to increase its sales, for ethical reasons.

“Let Israel cease”

The commitment of a few “content creators” committed to defending the interests of the Muslim community does not explain everything. Certain applications available on AppStore indeed betray a community bias. So Boycott for Peace, an application that allows you to scan a product in store to find out “if you should boycott it”. Besides Airbnb and, which the application suggests replacing with HalalBooking, also forget Disney: prefer Achemiya, a streaming service for films and documentaries on the Muslim world. As for the advertising company Taboola, the application suggests the site as an alternative.

Asked about the criteria used to establish its diagnoses, Boycott for Peace, which assures that it is not “a manifestation of hatred towards a people or a religion [et s’opposer] to any form of oppression and violation of human rights” invokes “extensive research and credible reports demonstrating participation in or support for policies and actions contrary to [sa] position on human rights and peace”. Adding that the “data originally comes from The Witness website”.

READ ALSO: Middle East: “All it takes is one strategic error for escalation to become a reality”

On its site dedicated to the boycott, The Witness, which presents itself as a press organ, offers a list similar to that available on Boycott for Peace. With one difference: The Witness assumes firstly that it wants “the State of Israel to cease”, the “Zionists [n’étant] not peaceful people”. The site also offers at the top of its home page a link allowing you to make a donation to “support Palestine”. The latter redirects to the site of the Ummah Welfare Trust, a charity organization. charity based in the United Kingdom, inspired by the “Islamic teachings of empathy, generosity and altruism”. When requested, the Ummah Welfare Trust did not respond to L’Express. According to its report on the year 2023, of the 5.3 million people who received aid from it across the world, only 94,530 people would have received “medical aid”, compared to more than a fifth (1,536,000) having benefited from another type of support: “Islamic rituals”.

“Quran after school”

Should we also look at the financing of Boycott for Peace? If the application, “completely free”, works without broadcasting advertising or generating income in other ways, the application team explains that “all expenses related to the operation of the application or the maintenance of the server are supported by the Colorado Muslims Community Center [CMCC]“… On its website, the American organization claims to want to “educate Muslims and non-Muslims of all ages and from all backgrounds, by teaching Islam to Muslims and clarifying misconceptions for the entire non-Muslim community. Muslim.

READ ALSO: Shai Davidai: “Anti-Zionist Jews Give Kosher Approval to Anti-Semites”

Among the services offered, a “weekend Islamic school” and “After-school Quran” sessions (for 5-15 year olds). In a video relayed at the end of October by the Middle East Media and Research Institute (a pro-Israeli website monitoring Arab and Iranian media), we could, however, see an imam speaking to an audience of children : “The Israelis do not obey. They break their commitment. They lie and break their contract. […] So I’m going to ask you […] : should you trust these people today?” Children’s response: “Nooo!”

Asked about this video, the CMCC kicks in. “The teachings provided by the CMCC focus on the fundamental values ​​of our religion and the oppression that rages in the world does not only target Muslims. This is why we try to keep the application generic and universal so that it is easy to use for all those who oppose oppression”, we argue to L’Express. But would this project with its humanist approach conceal an influence, on the part of the CMCC, on the content offered by the Boycott for Peace application? “The volunteers who created the application are completely autonomous and ask us what types of content they can put in the application.” Of “total autonomy”…