By Agustinus Beo Da Costa
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s vice president said on Tuesday that calls for a boycott of U.S. goods over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel were misguided – not least because of the country’s reliance on U.S. technology.
There have been a series of protests in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country since Trump’s controversial move this month to reverse decades of U.S. policy.
At a rally of about 80,000 people on Sunday, the Indonesian Ulema Council, a body of Muslim clerics, called for a boycott of U.S. and Israeli products if Trump did not revoke his action.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters that Indonesia was trying to put pressure on Washington through the United Nations and it was not even practical to stop using American products.
“Do not be emotional… do we dare to boycott iPhones, stop using Google. Can (you) live without them?” he asked.
“(You) cannot live without them now. If you go out of the house now, you put (an iPhone) in your pocket,” he said.
Kalla said that even if people stopped watching U.S. movies, other American goods such as specialized petroleum equipment were vital in oil-producing Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
There have been a series of protests in Indonesia over the issue of Jerusalem, including some where hardliners burned U.S. and Israeli flags.
The status of Jerusalem, a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, is one of the biggest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Asked about how to proceed after Washington vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the U.S. declaration on Jerusalem to be withdrawn, Kalla said that dialogue was the only solution.
“There had been three wars, and Palestine’s territory has become smaller, so there must be a dialogue, peace,” he said.
Indonesia enjoys a trade surplus with the United States and is one of 16 countries that the Trump administration has said could be investigated for possible trade abuses.
Tutum Rahanta, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Retailers Association, said it was up to consumers whether to buy American products.
“If it is advice or a call to boycott, it depends on the consumers whether to use the products or not.”
(Additonal reporting by Cindy Silviana; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Nick Macfie)