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Palestine-Isreal Conflict Leads to Boycotts Against Various Companies

Palestine-Isreal+Conflict+Leads+to+Boycotts+Against+Various+Companies
Credit to Violet Newton

Many pivot from their usual overpriced pink drinks and iced caramel macchiatos before their commute to work, to other local coffee businesses in protest against Starbucks. From Ford to Burger King and countless other corporations. As a result of the current conflicts between Israel and Hamas, many citizens have shown their discomfort of large corporations supporting Israel.

People have begun showing their disapproval to the companies in many ways, in an attempt to make them stop supporting Israel. One of the biggest ways communities have tried to get involved has been through boycotts at places such as Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Disney and many other large corporations. These companies are  receiving disapproval from customers because they are supporting Israel with money or free food without an explanation to the public. Some people have expressed their disapproval in regards to the support of Israel, while others have explained there is no truly correct side in the conflict, therefore companies do not deserve to be boycotted.

“I feel like there’s no good side to take on this, both sides are committing heinous acts towards innocent people,” junior Eric Kraemer said. “I feel like people trying to black and white this, we’re losing the understanding of the issue [and] we’re slowly demoralizing everything.”

The largest and most impactful boycott has been against Starbucks, which kicked off directly after Israel responded to the Hamas attack. Many American individuals with a pre-existing bias for Palestine find Starbucks to be in support of Israel after a lawsuit Starbucks filed against their union. The Starbucks Workers Union created a social media post stating, “Solidarity with Palestine!” Many individuals were enthusiastic about the actions taken with this post. Starbucks sued the union for trademark infringement, in other words, using Starbucks’ name to make a comment that Starbucks doesn’t agree with. With the lawsuit the enthusiasm was short-lived, causing customers to retaliate against the company. Customers were upset with Starbucks, they believed they sued because they support Israel in the conflict, not Palestine.

In response to the situation, Starbucks has fought back saying they’re a neutral party, this was shown with an official statement in a letter to their workers union.

“We unequivocally condemn these acts of terrorism, hate and violence, and disagree with the statements and views expressed by Workers United and its members,” Starbucks corporation said in their letter.

With the letter showing Starbucks chooses to stay unaffiliated, customers still believed Starbucks supports Israel, with this they lashed out against Starbucks and other operations with similar situations by boycotting. Some believe the boycotts are the best course of action, but others argue otherwise. Still, many would say boycotting is inappropriate and simply a result of under- education.

“I think about 50 percent of the people who are boycotting are knowledgeable and have taken a stance based on research, I think the other 50 percent are doing it just to do it,” senior Aaliyah White said.

There are thousands of people participating in boycotts nationwide, specifically targeting Starbucks. Etaf Abdallah, an FHN alumni who grew up in Palestine explained why these boycotts are crucial in her life.

“Boycotting is a demand from the world to invest our money into companies that don’t support apartheid, this causes companies to cut ties with Israeli investments,” Abdallah said.

The main goals of these boycotts, as explained by Abdallah, are to shut down the companies or to make them feel the incentive to stop funding or supporting Israel. While Starbucks, the largest boycott, has actually never been proven to send money or supplies to Israel; individuals are upset by the lack of support Starbucks has provided to Palestine rather than the support they’ve shown to Israel.

“Would you want the money you’re spending on a coffee to be turned into a bomb to attack Gaza? That is why we are boycotting. People are upset their money is going to be killing little children,” Abdallah said.

On the contrary, many people find that boycotts are raising tensions even higher. Citizens have expressed that these companies do not deserve to be punished.

“I don’t believe enough people are boycotting to have an impact on other countries,” White said.

People avoiding the boycotts often believe the boycotters are taking their beliefs to a new level of extreme and these individuals do not believe Americans, as consumers, should be affected. Many express that with America’s freedom of speech, companies should not be held liable for wanting or not wanting to release statements to the public.

“I don’t think just because somebody has released a political statement, no matter their stance, should be boycotted,” White said. “I think there are a lot of followers and not a lot of leaders with this kind of thing. People just aren’t educated when making their decisions.”

The majority of largely boycotted corporations have not expressed any opinions. Although they have failed to touch on the boycotts themselves, Starbucks has released statements on the Middle Eastern conflicts. All of Starbucks’s official posts have shown sympathy for both sides of the war, keeping a neutral voice. Starbucks has chosen to stay unbiased, but other biased opinions of workers have swayed strongly to one side of the argument. Throughout the conflicts, lawsuits, and boycotts strongly pushed onto Starbucks, they have continued to stay unaffiliated. After numerous attempts to reach out, Starbucks employees have refused to comment on the issue.

“Why are our tax dollars going all the way to Israel where they drop bombs on innocent children in Palestine?” Abdallah said. “Why are we sending Israel billions of dollars in support but in America, we can’t provide free healthcare, we can’t provide help to the homeless. We have to help ourselves before supporting terrorism. The way our people can help is to stop providing our money to companies funding Israel.”

Decades worth of conflicts between Israel and Palestine, more specifically Gaza a Palestinian territory, escalated to a surprise attack by Hamas, Gaza’s militant group, on Oct. 7, 2023. This caused over 1,200 Israeli deaths, thousands injured and hundreds of hostages taken according to afsc.org. Israel quickly retaliated by firing back at Gaza. Israel’s backlash has mainly transpired as violent military action, bombings and a suspension of necessary supplies for civilians. Their reaction exacerbated the situation, prompting a crossfire between the two groups.

From the constant strikes of both countries, it is clear that after the Hamas attack, the dispute increased rapidly. Still, before the invasion on Oct. 7, there had already been numerous invasions from Israel. Amidst the aggression, America has provided approximately $3 billion in support to the Israeli military annually. This year the trend continued with the United States sending $3.8 billion in aid.

Yet, American citizens have tended to take the other side of the war, participating in boycotts to help support Palestinians in Gaza. The contrary opinions of citizens have led to an ongoing debate as to whether there is a “correct” side to the conflict.

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