Burger King Supports Israeli Occupation- Builds Franchise in Settlement

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at yale.edu
Mon Aug 9 14:38:25 PDT 1999

Burger King has built a franchise in a West Bank settlement and Arab groups are threatening a boycott to protest this support by Burger Kinb for the settler occupation. I would suggest folks call Burger King's customer relations to threaten to support any boycott launched. The number is 305-378-3535.

Here is the AP story: ======================================= August 9, 1999 Arab Burger Boycott Angers Israelis

By The Associated Press MAALE ADUMIM, West Bank (AP) -- Arieh Blumberg had never eaten at Burger King before, but the Israeli plumber munched on a Whopper Monday in a show of solidarity with the American fast food chain, under fire for opening a franchise in a Jewish settlement.

American Muslims have called for a boycott against Burger King, and the Arab League said Monday it would take action against the company unless the franchise in the Maale Adumim settlement, the West Bank's largest, was closed.

Burger King officials have said the Miami-based company is taking the issue seriously and will try to resolve it. Burger King has branches in Malaysia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other nations where Arabs and Muslims live.

The disputed Burger King outlet opened four months ago in a new shopping mall in Maale Adumim, a settlement of 25,000 residents just east of Jerusalem. Maale Adumim is one of the fastest growing settlements in the West Bank, and its mayor has said he expects the population to grow to 60,000 over the next decade.

The Palestinians consider Jewish settlements the key obstacle to establishing an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to settler figures, 200,000 Israelis now live in the disputed lands, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. The fate of the 144 settlements is to be determined during talks between Israel and the Palestinians on a permanent peace agreement.

On Monday, Saeed Kamal, the Arab League's deputy secretary-general, said the group will weigh options against Burger King next month during an upcoming m eeting of its foreign ministers in Cairo, Egypt.

Last week, a U.S. group, American Muslims for Jerusalem, called for a worldwide boycott on the grounds that the food chain is encouraging Israeli settlements. The coalition asked Burger King to make donations to Muslim refugees.

At the start of Monday's lunch hour, the Burger King in Maale Adumim was brimming with activity. Most customers were school kids on their summer break.

Orna Makov, a mother of four from the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim, said she regularly shops at the Maale Adumim mall. As she collected three bags of burgers for her family, she said the company should not give in to boycott threats.

Inbar Sayag said the threat of a boycott was unacceptable. ``The Arabs shouldn't decide where we go to eat,'' she said.

The mayor of Maale Adumim, settler leader Benny Kashriel, was more conciliatory, saying he believed the boycott plan would blow over. He noted that Palestinians are among the patrons of the Burger King franchise and other stores in the settlement's mall.

``It doesn't promote peace,'' Kashriel said of the boycott plan. ``It widens the gap between us and the Palestinians.''

For many years, the Arab world boycotted products of companies that did business with Israel. Since the start of Mideast peacemaking in the 1993, the ban has been observed less and less. But for many Israelis, talk of boycott still hits a raw nerve and brings back old feelings of isolation in a hostile region.

Blumberg, the plumber, said he was eating at Burger King for the first time Monday to make a point.

``I came here just because the Arabs say that this is not the biblical land of Israel,'' Blumberg said.

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