Asked if she was sure that all the products on the list were made in Israel, Siti shrugged and responded with a usual – if anti-Semitic – Indonesian conflation of faith and a state nearly 9,000 km away.

“They support Israel’s occupation of Palestine in one way or another, or they belong to Jews,” she said.

“Dehumanization”: UN human rights chief criticizes global rise in hatred in Gaza war

The Muslim-majority countries of Southeast Asia are leading the region in refuting Israel’s assault on Gaza, launched in response to the murderous Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,400 people.

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, at least 9,770 people – including over 4,000 children and teenagers – have been killed by Israel’s relentless air and artillery attacks in recent weeks.

At the forefront of the diplomatic outcry was Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who said he had repeatedly resisted U.S. pressure on his government to tone down its stated support for Hamas and the broader Palestinian cause. In Malaysia, even brands with no direct connection to Israel are in the crosshairs of the boycott movement, such as Singapore-headquartered Grab.


Malaysia’s leader condemns Israel over attacks in Gaza as thousands attend a pro-Palestinian rally

Malaysia’s leader condemns Israel over attacks in Gaza as thousands attend a pro-Palestinian rally

A wave of posts showing Malaysians canceling their Grab subscriptions and deleting the app from their phones – including Anwar’s daughter Nurul Ilham Anwar – swept social media last week after Chloe Tong, the wife of company boss Anthony Tan, After sharing photos from her family’s trip to Israel in July, she expressed on Instagram how heartbroken she was about what was happening in a country she had “completely fallen in love with.”

Grab responded to the backlash by saying that it stands on the side of “humanity and the hope for peace and a ceasefire” without mentioning any of the warring factions, while also sharing a statement from Tong that the Instagram Post was personal and written before her had a complete picture of what was happening.

“I’m just sad and feel very helpless about all the innocent lives that have been lost,” she said.

Malaysia’s prime minister criticizes the West’s human rights hypocrisy in supporting “brutal” Israel

Boycotts are growing in Indonesia, where a huge crowd of tens of thousands gathered in front of the national monument in Jakarta’s Merdeka Square on Sunday for a pro-Palestinian rally. A call to avoid McDonald’s spread on social media after reports that the fast food restaurant was no longer close. The chain in Israel offered free meals to members of the IDF, Israel’s military.

PT Rekso Nasional Food, McDonald’s Indonesian licensee, was quick to emphasize that the company is Indonesian-owned and has nothing to do with the Israeli franchise.

“Our condolences go out to all the victims of war,” it said in a statement on October 23.

Some McDonald’s outlets in the country have reportedly encouraged employees to wear scarves and decorate with balloons in the colors of the Palestinian flag, while the chain introduced huge discounts starting in late October.

In this still from a social media video, a woman in a keffiyeh stands next to balloons in the colors of the Palestinian flag at an Indonesian McDonald’s. Photo: Instagram/@otakkanann

Siti, the housewife from Surabaya, said she would switch to alternative, mostly local products to show her solidarity as a Muslim with the Palestinians in their struggle for independence.

The boycotted companies must be “shaking in their boots,” she said, because they would all “pounce on the Indonesians with discounts.”

Aan Anshor, a progressive cleric based in Jombang, East Java, said the boycott list shows that Indonesian Muslims make no distinction between the actions of the Israeli state and the Jewish people as a whole, pointing out: “I have many Jewish ones Friends and.” not all of them are Zionists.”

If such measures were enough to topple South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1990s, we can certainly do the same to Israel

Dina Sulaeman, Indonesian boycott analyst

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement operating worldwide is promoting economic pressure to force Israel to grant full independence to the State of Palestine.

“If such measures were enough to topple South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1990s, we can certainly do the same to Israel,” said Dina Sulaeman, a geopolitical analyst at the Indonesia Center for Middle East Studies.

Economists say it was inevitable that Indonesians would vote with their wallets on issues that matter to them, given the growing awareness of global affairs in the internet age.

“[The boycott] has an immediate impact on patterns of product consumption, although we have yet to see a boycott movement lasting long enough to make a real dent [on Israel or its allies]” Gancar Premananto, an economist at Airlangga University in Surabaya, told This Week in Asia.

“The longer it takes [the war] The longer the situation lasts, the greater the impetus for Indonesians to take action.”

However, Premananto also warned that the boycott could harm Indonesia’s economy and investment prospects as “these multinational companies are also legitimate employers in Indonesia.”

An estimated 3,700 people are employed at Nestle’s three Indonesian factories, while another 4,000 or so earn a living at Unilever’s nine manufacturing plants in the country.

And not all Indonesians are in favor of joining the boycott.

“This is a long list that I cannot implement, even if I sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians,” said Karina Malik, a municipal professional from Bandung.

“We all contribute in different ways and I respect those who participate in the boycott. But my kids love to treat themselves at McDonald’s. What can I do?”

A McDonald’s restaurant in Putrajaya, Malaysia. During the early stages of the Israel-Gaza conflict, McDonald’s Israel stated on its social media accounts that it would donate free meals to Israeli soldiers. Photo: EPA-EFE

Jakarta-based financial analyst Adi Wijaya said the boycott was influenced by domestic brands seeking to exploit public furor over Gaza to gain a competitive advantage.

“This explains why some local food franchises give the impression that they do not use boycotted products in their stores,” he said.

Spicywon Korean Streetfood, a Bandung-based franchise, announced on its Instagram page that it would stop using or stocking products from Nestle in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, which it accused of “supporting the genocide in Gaza “. The franchise declined an interview with This Week In Asia.

“Toxic” narratives about the war between Israel and Gaza are opening up deep divisions in the West

The rules of a modern boycott also have subtleties.

Yulianto, who works as a cashier at Indomaret in northern Surabaya, said discount bonanzas may not have much impact in areas dominated by more devout Muslims.

“In my branch, women from different prayer groups are taking the boycott seriously and would shop together to ensure compliance,” he said.

“But when these women shop alone … they sometimes grab discounts when no one is looking, and who wouldn’t in this economy?”

Meanwhile, the boycott has created an unexpected boom for those unimpressed by the social media-driven response to the conflict.

“I’m just happy that McD is offering a 50 percent discount,” said Handoko Prayitno, a restaurant-goer in Surabaya, as he ate his particularly spicy fried chicken from McDonald’s.

This Week in Asia reached out to brands on the boycott list, including KFC and Unilever, but received no response. In a statement, McDonald’s Indonesia distanced itself from its Israeli counterpart, citing different ownership structures.

Additional reporting by Hadi Azmi

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