Indonesian Vice President: Calls for Boycott Against U.S. over Jerusalem ‘Misguided’

Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia's vice president, gestures as he speaks during an interview at his office in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Kalla stepped up pressure on Bank Indonesia to cut interest rates to create jobs and boost economic growth, saying the authority was legally obliged to listen to …
Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has not gone over well in Indonesia, but on Tuesday Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that a boycott against the United States would be “misguided.”

Kalla might not be opposed to venting Islamic rage at the United States in principle, but he pointed out that boycotting American goods would only harm the Indonesian people.

“Do not be emotional,” he advised, as quoted by Reuters. “Do we dare to boycott iPhones, stop using Google? Can [you] live without them? [You] cannot live without them now. If you go out of the house now, you put [an iPhone] in your pocket.”

He went on to note that America supplies a great deal of the equipment employed by Indonesia’s oil industry, a crucial component of the national economy.

Kalla was directly responding to a massive rally held on Sunday by the Indonesian Ulema Council, an assembly of Muslim clerics, at which a boycott of American and Israeli goods was demanded. The demonstrators wore white robes and brandished slogans such as “Indonesia unites for Palestine!” and “Save our Palestine!”

The petition advanced by the Ulema Council demanded President Trump revoke his recognition of Israel because it has “hurt international justice, violated human rights of the Palestinians, and undermined peace efforts,” as the Washington Post rendered it. The petition called upon other nations to refrain from following America’s lead and asked for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.

In fact, the U.N. has been deluged with meetings about Israel and Jerusalem ever since Trump made his announcement, and another one is coming up on Thursday. The Security Council attempted to draft a resolution nullifying Trump’s decision last week, but the United States rejected it.

The demonstrators may be disheartened by Vice President Kalla’s observation that peaceful dialogue is the only way forward, because war and conflict have only caused Palestinian territory to grow smaller. To date, the Indonesian Muslim street has been more agitated by Trump’s Jerusalem decision than the Palestinians themselves.

As for the Indonesian political class, President Joko Widodo “strongly condemned” Trump’s decision as soon as it was announced, warning that it might “rock global security and stability.” He does not seem to have issued any high-profile statements on the matter since that December 7th speech, although he did attend the emergency Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Turkey last Wednesday.

At the OIC meeting, Widodo called upon member states “who have close ties to Israel take necessary diplomatic steps, including reconsidering that relationship,” and encouraged Muslim states to take every opportunity to support the Palestinian cause.

He also cautioned the OIC not to take actions that would push them away from the negotiating table. “The OIC should be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. If the OIC cannot be part of the solution to Palestine, then the OIC becomes irrelevant,” he said.

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