(LibertySociety.com) – Corporate involvement in global conflicts is nothing new, but taking a position in the Israel-Hamas war has resulted in widespread outrage and boycotts. In a January 4 letter posted to LinkedIn that appears to have been deleted, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski wrote that Middle Eastern markets and others “are experiencing a meaningful business impact due to the war and associated misinformation that is affecting brands like McDonald’s.” Kempczinski made clear that every McDonald’s is locally owned, even in Muslim countries. Around five percent of McDonald’s restaurants are in the Middle East.
The backlash and calls to boycott McDonald’s began after McDonald’s Israel boasted about giving free meals to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). McDonald’s owners in predominantly Muslim countries like Kuwait, Malaysia, and Pakistan, began posting statements making clear that their franchises were not affiliated with Israeli locations. Shortly thereafter, the Saudi-owned Malaysia McDonald’s filed a lawsuit against the group Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), claiming that the pro-Palestinian organization issued false statements about McDonald’s that hurt sales. On January 3, BDS called for a boycott of McDonald’s. The group believes that McDonald’s should sever ties with Israel but wants to force corporate action with boycotts. McDonald’s franchises in Muslim countries have also made donations to send humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Kempczinski also said that the company “will always proudly open our doors to everyone,” and that it would speak out against hate speech. Starbucks has also faced similar issues, with its CEO Laxman Narasimhan expressing concern to employees in a letter.
Pro-Palestinians began boycotting the company after accusing it of being pro-Israel. Several acts of vandalism were reported at various locations. In the United States, supporters of Israel called for a boycott following pro-Hamas rhetoric from Starbucks Workers United, which is an organization of unionized employees. According to reports, Narasimhan wrote that there had been increased chaos because of the many conflicts around the world. He also condemned the use of lies and speech intended to harm others.
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