Ramadan, Blood Dates and Palestine: Important Issues For Muslims

Ramadhan and kurma, or dates, are synonymous. A must-have appetiser, a sinister shadow hidden behind this delectable fruit is now out in the open, exposing its dark, oppressive secret and systematic exploitation of Palestinian land.

Ramadan 2024 is finally here. In the Muslim month of Ramadan, Muslims worldwide observe fasting from dawn to dusk for 30 days. Fasting is the third of five Islamic tenets observed by Muslims worldwide. Muslims observe this tenet to instil self-discipline and humility as they understand the sufferings of less well-off people.

Ramadan is also when kurma, or dates, are readily available. Though the fruit is available all year round, its presence during Ramadan is the most cherished.

However, many Muslims are abstaining from the fruit this time around, not only in Malaysia but worldwide. This move follows a global effort to boycott Israeli products to economically force Israel to stop its genocidal oppression of the Palestinian people.

With Israeli retaliation against Hamas in Gaza for the 7 October attack, which already caused the deaths of almost 30,000 people, including women and children, and the utter destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza in full swing, this clarion call to boycott against Israeli dates grew even louder.

But wait. Malaysia does not have any direct economic ties with Israel. Then, how did we import dates from Israel?

2020 Al Jazeera opinion revealed that 40% of Israeli date exports came from Israeli-controlled plantations in dispossessed lands in Palestine. The Israeli companies sold these dates internationally under several different names, often obscuring the source of the dates.

Just Before Ramadan in 2022, the Canadian Bds Coalition Issued a Waning to Boycott Israeli Dates and Break Fast with Palestine Medjoul Dates
Just before Ramadan in 2022 the Canadian BDS Coalition issued a waning to boycott Israeli dates and break fast with Palestine Medjoul dates

Ramadan Without Dates

The Islamic Human Rights Council (IHRC) in 2020 also called out to Muslims to be wary of Israeli dates purposely labelled as Palestinian dates to obscure their origins.

In another Al Jazeera report in the form of a short video, one Muslim influencer even categorised these dates as blood dates, in the same fashion as labelling diamonds mined in central Africa during the Angolan, Congo, and Sierra Leone civil wars to finance the civil war as blood diamonds.

Last week, a Malaysian company apologised for importing dates from Israel and selling the repackaged dates. In the press release, the company claimed that they had bought the dates from a middleman in Greece.

The Palestinian Plight

While we are on this topic of boycotting dates from Israel, I would be remiss if I did not point this out.

Often, the media portrayed the Palestinian issue as a Muslim or Arab issue. That has been the case for more than 60 years. However, the Palestinian people are a diverse people of different religions and political ideologies. While the majority of Palestinians are Muslims, there are many Jewish and Christian Palestinians and they, too, suffer under the same occupation force.

Even earlier Palestinian liberation movements were diverse; the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was a secular Marxist group. Before that, George Habash, a Palestinian Christian, formed the Arab Nationalist Movement, which was part of the tristate Baath Party, a secular Pan-Arab nationalist party that formed the governments of Syria, Egypt, and Iraq.

And there is also the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), which today forms Fatah. Currently, Fatah controls the West Bank, where there is no Hamas, but still embroiled in frequent battles against both Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Israeli settlers.

How Does this Boycott Impact You?

For the Muslim Community

For Muslims, the boycott of these dates is simple. They avoid buying dates whose origins are obscured or are from Israel. Not only does this mean they are in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren, but it also clears their conscience from participating in the extermination of their brethren.

For Non-Muslim Community

While eating dates is not part of our culture, many of us would like to buy dates as gifts for our Muslim friends, neighbours, and colleagues. Similar to how our Muslim friends buy moon cakes for us. Should we buy dates as gifts for our friends, please ensure the importers do not source Israeli dates before buying. Not only do you get to build a healthy relationship, but at least you did not participate in acts that are made possible by genocide. – NMH

Facebook Comments

Latest articles

Related articles