With Boycotts Looming, Perhaps Apple’s Tim Cook Understands How Israel Feels

Tim Cook

It was announced earlier in the week that, caving under pressure pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS),  Sodastream was moving its factory out of a hotly contested area, a development that would leave many Palestinians unemployed. Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out of the closet as gay. What is the connection between the two events? There is talk that openly anti-gay countries like Russia and parts of the Middle East where homosexuality is illegal may boycott Apple’s products. Around 60% of Apple’s sales are overseas, many in emerging market countries where there is open disapproval and in some cases, criminal punishment for homosexuality. Apple was in talks about selling its products in Iran should sanctions be relaxed, but according to CNBC, it is likely Apple’s products may be banned in Iran even without sanctions because of the country’s staunch disapproval of same sex relationships, which, in some cases, are punishable by death.

While China has declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001, the move has only been recent, and there may be significant homophobic sentiment remaining in the country. In addition, right wing religious groups in the U.S. may tell their followers not to buy Apple products. So if Apple is boycotted in a big way because of the sexual orientation of its CEO, even though the issue is entirely different from the BDS movement, still, Apple might have something common with Israel when it comes to bearing the brunt of boycotts for reasons both the company and many in the country feel are unfair. And Tim Cook will most likely receive a warm welcome to exploreTel Aviv’s world famous gay nightlife scene. I predict sales of Apple products are likely to skyrocket in Tel Aviv.

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