Kenya activists spurn government's pro-Israel stance with boycott

Kenya activists spurn government's pro-Israel stance with boycott
Kenyan advocacy groups are pushing for a boycott of Israeli products in the East African country, despite the heavy presence of Tel Aviv-linked products.
2 min read
14 December, 2023
There is a growing movement boycotting Israeli products in Kenya, in response to Israel's bombardment of Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Young people in Kenya are encouraging the boycott of Israeli products in the country as a means of protest against Israel’s deadly military onslaught in Gaza, ongoing since October 7.

A number of advocacy groups, including 'Kenyans for Palestine', are leading a boycott of Israeli-linked businesses by producing informative infographics detailing which products to snub.

Such groups have also taken it upon them to raise awareness on the Palestinian cause and call for government action against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

As of Thursday, Israeli bombardment has killed at least 18,787 Palestinians since its onslaught began. Israel has been accused of carrying out several war crimes as it has targeted schools, refugee camps, places of worship and hospitals and deprived Palestinians of basic needs such as food, fuel and water.

Pro-Palestinian Kenyans are finding the boycott of Israeli products more challenging than anticipated, given the significant amount of Tel Aviv-linked in the east African country, according to Al Jazeera.

The popular coffee and casual dining chain 'Artcaffe' is owned and operated by Israeli-owned companies. Westgate Mall, among Kenya and Africa’s most popular shopping centres, is also operated by the Israeli-based Sony Holdings company. Israel also imports agricultural-based goods from Kenya, while Nairobi imports products such as fetilisers, chemicals and other high-technology goods, according to its embassy in Tel Aviv.

The encouraging of boycotting Israeli products comes despite Kenya's seemingly pro-Israel stance. On October 7, the Kenyan foreign ministry condemned "in the strongest terms possible, the unprovoked attack by Hamas militants on the people of Israel." 

Earlier this month, Kenya said it will be sending 1,500 agricultural workers to Israel, on a three-year renewable contract, which will see them earn $1,500 a month.

However, a number of pro-Palestinian protests have taken place in Kenya, with a number of demonstrators arrested following a rally in October.

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Writer and activist Wairimu Gathimba told Al Jazeera that she aims to encourage the boycott of such products by stressing the parallels between Israel’s war and occupation of Gaza and the Palestinian territories and Kenya’s colonial history at the hands of the British.  

"The work I’m doing, the boycotts I’m a part of, are a really small sacrifice to make compared to what the people of Palestine are doing," Gathimba told the Qatar-based broadcaster.

"There are so many parallels in the oppression historically. I have to support."