Starbucks boycott calls lead to violence


LONDON (JTA) — Calls to boycott Starbucks, based on false claims that the company helped finance Israel’s military operation in Gaza, led to violent attacks on two of its cafes in London.

In the past two weeks, the call to boycott Starbucks have been circulating by e-mails and SMS messages with the claim that Starbucks and McDonald’s were donating their next two weeks’ revenues to Israel. Some claimed the donations are to the “Israeli military.”

On Jan. 17, during an anti-Israel rally at Trafalgar Square in central London, the rapper Lowkey attacked companies, including Starbucks, that have "Zionist" links.

"You say you know about the Zionist lobby," he told the crowd, "but you put money in their pockets every time you’re buying their coffee."

After the rally, two groups of a few dozen people each smashed the windows of two branches of Starbucks cafes and looted the shops.

Those calling for a boycott of Starbucks claim they have a letter from 2006 that proves their claim about company CEO Howard Schultz’s support of Israel. Apparently the letter was published on an Internet site by an Australian anti-Zionist, who made it clear that he wrote the letter as a parody.

Statements by Starbucks denying the claims did nothing to stop the campaign against the “Zionist coffee.”

Starbucks does not operate in Israel. In 2003 the company closed its branches there after being unable to break into the extensive cafe market. 

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