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Jerusalem - McDonald's Refuses To Operate In Jewish Settlement

Published on: June 27, 2013 10:32 AM
Last updated on: June 27, 2013 02:35 PM
By: AP
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FILE - Israeli customers at a McDonald's restaurant in Tel Aviv March 2, 2006.  ReutersFILE - Israeli customers at a McDonald's restaurant in Tel Aviv March 2, 2006.  Reuters

Jerusalem - The McDonald’s restaurant chain refused to open a branch in a West Bank Jewish settlement, the company said Thursday, adding a prominent name to an international movement to boycott Israel’s settlements.

Irina Shalmor, spokeswoman for McDonald’s Israel, said the owners of a planned mall in the Ariel settlement asked McDonald’s to open a branch there about six months ago. Shalmor said the chain refused because the owner of McDonald’s Israel has a policy of staying out of the occupied territories. The decision was not coordinated with McDonald’s headquarters in the U.S., she said. The headquarters were not immediately available for comment.

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The Israeli branch’s owner and franchisee, Omri Padan, is a founder of the dovish group Peace Now, which opposes all settlements and views them as obstacles to peace. The group said Padan is no longer a member.

The decision by such a well-known multinational company to boycott the West Bank deals settlers an unwelcome blow.

It also adds the name of an important international brand to a movement that has urged businesses to stay out of the West Bank. International companies like Caterpillar, France’s Veolia and others have faced pressure from a global network of pro-Palestinian activists to sever links with the settlements.

The activists have also pushed consumers to shun products made in settlements. Israeli academics and unions have also been boycotted because of Israel’s settlement policies and European countries are considering stepping up efforts to label settlement-made products sold in Europe.

The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, as part of their future state. Israel captured those areas, along with the Golan Heights, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal or illegitimate.

The mall’s owners, settlers and politicians who back them chided McDonald’s for its decision.

“McDonald’s has gone from being a for-profit company to an organization with an anti-Israeli political agenda,” said Yigal Dilmoni, a leader of the Yesha Council, a settler umbrella group. He urged Israelis to think twice before they buy a meal at McDonald’s following its decision. Pro-settler lawmaker Ayelet Shaked said she would boycott the fast food chain.

Tzahi Nehimias, a co-owner of the Ariel mall, said an Israeli burger chain, Burger Ranch, had offered to take McDonald’s spot. He also said Burger King had shown interest, but Miguel Piedra, a spokesman for Burger King Worldwide Inc. said the company had no plans to re-enter Israel. The company closed its restaurants in Israel in 2010 and turned them over to Burger Ranch.

Nehimias said other international companies who were asked to open a branch at the mall also declined, but none cited the mall’s location in a settlement as a reason. He declined to identify the other companies. Some 19,000 Jewish settlers live in Ariel and it has a large student population.

Peace Now welcomed McDonald’s decision.

“We totally understand and support people who think settlements are bad for Israel’s interests,” said Yariv Oppenheimer, who heads Peace Now. “They don’t want to take an active role by opening a business there and helping to expand and to contribute to the settlement idea.”

Rafeef Ziadah of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement said McDonald’s move “will encourage other corporations to end their complicity in Israel’s occupation.”

This is not the first time McDonald’s has stirred controversy in Israel. The company didn’t open a branch in Israel until 1993 due to the Arab League boycott of the country.

A year later, McDonalds built a branch near a memorial to Israel’s Golani military brigade, and Israelis objected to the large double arches sign there, saying it desecrated the site. The sign was later made smaller. In 2004, McDonalds was criticized for telling its Arabic and Russian speaking staff not to speak those languages at work.


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Read Comments (18)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:38 AM Secular Says:

Can't really boycott McDonald's

2

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM Oldtimer Says:

That's it. No more cheeseburgers for me!

3

 Jun 27, 2013 at 10:53 AM SandraM Says:

Israeli's should boycott all the McDonalds until this is resolved.

4

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:13 AM Reb Yid Says:

Reply to #1  
Secular Says:

Can't really boycott McDonald's

It's not McDonald's. It's McDonald's Israel. We're our own worst enemy. That is, if you call depriving residents of the shtachim of overpriced, high fat, non-mehadrin food a bad thing.

5

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:18 AM Anonymous Says:

Good. One less McDonalds for people to eat treif at.

6

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:33 AM yaakov doe Says:

I've always boycotted McDonalds.

7

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:33 AM TexasJew Says:

Ask them to leave the country. Who needs McDonald's? I've never walked into a McDonalds in my life, as they're not known for healthy meals.

8

 Jun 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM ALTERG Says:

What a kiddush hashem from them, I'm proud of McDonald’s

9

 Jun 27, 2013 at 12:14 PM sane Says:

There are 114 McDonalds outlets in Saudi Arabia - a country that outright egregiously discriminates against women and employs slavery. It seems McDonalds then agrees with Saudi Arabian policy.

10

 Jun 27, 2013 at 12:14 PM bennyt Says:

The residents of these "settlements" and "occupied territories" don't know how luck they are that McDonalds doesn't want to open there. Who wants to eat this garbage anyway?

11

 Jun 27, 2013 at 12:39 PM CAperson Says:

Love comment #4 this proves McDonalds supports the settlements!

12

 Jun 27, 2013 at 01:21 PM enlightened-yid Says:

Do people not know how to read? This is not the official policy of Global McDonald's, but a local decision of an Israeli owner of kosher McDonald's in Israel. The two have no connection but brand licensing.

13

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:11 PM ExpatriateOwl Says:

Anything that keeps McDonald's Restaurants from proliferating in Israel cannot be all bad.

14

 Jun 27, 2013 at 03:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Jews should not worry too much about this decision. The facts are that McDonalds-Israel does not bound the future and decide our borders. They may likely lose business in their other stores and I would think a partial boycott (eat somewhere else most of the time) would be in order.

15

 Jun 27, 2013 at 04:35 PM um...yeah .. Says:

A quick search of the net shows that Omri Padan is the McDonald's franchisee as well as one of the founding members of Peace Now. McD's should take his franchise license away for mis-using his position to advance his personal agenda. If his company has investors he is violating his fiduciary responsibilities to them.

16

 Jun 27, 2013 at 07:08 PM murray059 Says:

McDonalds in U.S> were recently found to contain very high levels of bacteria in their ice , higher than the samples taken from the toilet bowls.

17

 Jun 27, 2013 at 07:23 PM esther Says:

Reply to #8  
ALTERG Says:

What a kiddush hashem from them, I'm proud of McDonald’s

so alter,go have a big mac to celebrate.

18

 Jun 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM hopeful Says:

AlterG with his cochma again. Where does kiddush hashem come into play here?

19

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