Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The El Al Boycott

I don't understand all the furor about the Charedi boycott of El Al. To me, the issue seems fairly simple. As a group of customers, the Charedi community made certain demands about how El Al does business. El Al ignored (or appeared to ignore) those demands. That left the Charedi community with three options: negotiate, retaliate or back down. Negotiations didn't work so they were left with either retaliating or backing down. The latter would undermine all further demands throughout the economy so of course they have to boycott. And if the boycott doesn't work, this will show the country that the Charedi community is no longer as unified as it once was and its demands need not be taken as seriously because the consequences of ignoring those demands have diminished. Ignoring the boycott is essentially undermining the bargaining power of the Charedi community. That is, understandably, a matter of great significance to the community's leaders. Even if one considers the Charedi community's demands to be unreasonable, their being dismissed is a matter of intentional disrespect for the community.

If the Charedi side of the negotiations were done in good faith, there is nothing about which to be cynical. This is simply a matter of consumers flexing their muscles so their demands will be taken seriously. It is very easy for a corporation to do whatever it wants and ignore the ethical concerns of its customers. Every once in a while, it needs to be reminded where the company's income comes from.

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