Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The war against Starbucks

The Gaza operation is hitting one company more than any other: Starbucks.

A campaign has quickly spread throughout the Arab and Muslim world via email and Facebook to boycott certain American companies that are rumored to send profits to Israel:
The rumors circulated via email, on social networking sites like Facebook and conspiracy websites: top American companies are donating profits to Israel in support of the war in Gaza and consumers should boycott them.

The online campaigns call for a boycott of several major U.S.-based companies like McDonalds, the coffee chain Starbucks, Pizza Hut and cigarette maker Phillip Morris, though most of the companies have explicitly denied the rumors on their websites and in interviews.

“Let's stop using American and British products for just one month. The U.S. will lose 8.6 billion daily if we stop using its products for only one month,” read one email being circulated in Arabic. “As a true Muslim do that. Tell your family, friends, and neighbors and stop for one month.”
According to the Saudi Gazette, the campaign is working:
Saudi Gazette visited American restaurants such as Burger King, McDonalds, Hardies, KFC and Starbucks and found them almost deserted. These food outlets were invariably crowded prior to the recent boycott call.

A huge drop in customers at such places is perceptible. “In the last three weeks, the number of customers has dropped by about 25 percent,” said a Starbucks employee requesting anonymity.
“The customers think that buying one cup of coffee will help in killing a Palestinian child,” he said.
This being the Muslim world, of course, such campaigns cannot remain peaceful for long. From This is London:
TRADERS told today how pro-Palestinian demonstrators caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage when they ransacked businesses near the Israeli Embassy.

The policing bill for Saturday's protest has topped more than £1million. Three officers and 20 demonstrators were injured.

An angry mob targeted shops and cafés in Kensington High Street, looting and smashing windows as violence flared during the rally.

Starbucks bore the brunt of the vandalism as masked protesters ripped out fittings and equipment after clashes with riot police.
And it was not an isolated incident. In Lebanon:
About a hundred demonstrators have converged on west Beirut's branch of the Starbucks coffee shop and closed it down in protest over the IDF operation in Gaza.

Protesters are justifying their actions by claiming that the Starbucks corporation' owner donates money to the Israeli military. Protesters raised a Palestinian flag over the shop and wrote on its window "Jewish favorite coffee."
Starbucks was forced to put a statement on their website:
Rumors that Starbucks Coffee Company and its management support Israel are unequivocally false.

Starbucks is a publicly traded company with stores in 49 countries. Though our thousands of partners (employees) and business associates around the globe have diverse views and share many beliefs about a wide range of topics, our primary focus remains to deliver the best customer experience possible. Starbucks is a non-political organization and does not support political causes. Further, the political preferences of a Starbucks partner at any level have absolutely no bearing on Starbucks company policies.
I don't drink coffee, but I hear that Starbucks' iced tea is kosher. Might be a good time to check it out.