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LEBANON: Rage against Starbucks over Gaza fighting

“One cup of coffee equals a bullet,” was the main slogan that demonstrators in Beirut blurted out against the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

In the latest of a series of daily protests in Lebanon, pro-Palestinian activists unleashed their fury at a new target, Starbucks.

Around 100 of them caused one branch of the U.S. coffee shop chain to close its doors Tuesday evening on Hamra Street, Beirut's bustling main commercial corridor, local media said.

The protesters accused the chain of supporting the Israeli army. They urged the customers inside the coffee shop to boycott Starbucks coffee. They accused the company’s chairman and president, Howard Schultz, of donating money to Israel.

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based corporation told the Associated Press that the accusations against Starbucks of supporting Israel were false, adding that the political preferences of any one of its employees -- whether the CEO or a clerk -- have no bearing on the company's policies.

A company statement released earlier this month said:

Rumors that Starbucks Coffee Company and its management support Israel are unequivocally false. Starbucks is a non-political organization and does not support political causes.... Further, the political preferences of a Starbucks partner [employee] at any level have absolutely no bearing on Starbucks company policies."

That didn't stop the protesters. One pasted a Star of David over the green-and-white Starbucks logo on the window display.

Others, holding Palestinian flags, chanted, “Palestinians are thirsty, your cup is full of their blood,” according to the local Lebanese newspaper Assafir.

The employees at Starbucks closed the door of the coffee shop after helping customers leave. This morning, however, the coffee shop reopened as usual and customers were seen sitting inside.

Starbucks is a popular coffee chain in Lebanon with 16 branches around the country.

On the social networking website Facebook, many groups call for boycotting U.S. companies allegedly supporting Israel, such as McDonalds and Starbucks.

The newest group, “Boycott McDonalds and Starbucks for helping Israel kill innocent Gaza people,” started after the Israeli war in Gaza and boasts more than 1,000 members.

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: A protester taped a Star of David on the logo at a Starbucks shop on Hamra Street in Beirut during a demonstration against Israel's ground attack on the Gaza Strip. Credit: Hussein Malla / Associated Press

P.S. Get news from Iran, Gaza, Israel and the rest of the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

Comments () | Archives (9)

I love starbucks coffee, i spend about 30 dollars a week getting my favorite mocha in a local branch, I don't think boycotting a company such as startbucks is a good idea on the path to Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I say something needs to be done about Hamass, Hezballah and other networks in the MidEast. At the same time, maybe the US should draw down on its support of Israel like a little child, what good has Israel ever done for the United States anyways? more neutral, and you kill anti-Americanism gradually.

>> Not every Muslim is a terrorist ... Every terrorist is a Muslim ... hmm

Timothy McVeigh was a Muslim? Ted Kaczynski? The Klan members who bombed churches in the South were Muslims?

I'm sure in a "Fox News" painted world the only terrorists that exist are Muslim, but you clearly can't see that. Look forward 50 years from now Terrorism will STILL exist and I can ensure you they won't all be Muslims.

Not every Muslim is a terrorist ... Every terrorist is a Muslim ... hmm

I agree that Howard Schultz should stand up against the bombing of innocent civilians - there have been close to 1,000 people killed in this "turkey shoot". I question the phrase "free world" however because I don't think you can characterize Gaza as "free" given that the people there are effectively imprisoned in a giant slum with no food or medical supplies... The Hamas government is also bad news for the inmates as their actions have been been inflammatory and less than helpful to put it mildly.

Starbucks, wear that Star of David proudly! I would and I'm not even Jewish. Victory to Israel!

Starbucks coffee IS good, but I don't like their support for those committing the massacres.

The Palestine Review

Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!
Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!
Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!
Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!
Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!
Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!Boycott Israel!

If we could economically hurt those who benefit from this genocide we could have a positive impact. U.S. military suppliers are making billions selling arms to Israel. They give some of their profits to the politicians who approve more spending for military aid to Israel. A perfect circle. Our job is to stop it by politicial educational or economic/boycotting means.

It's too bad that companies (Starbucks and McDonalds) do not have the guts to stand up for what they believe and it is a shame that Howard Schultz does not take this most important opportunity to denounce the Hamas and the Palestinian people who stand idly by as rocket after rocket is fired into Israel. By releasing a cowardly statement, Howard Schultz has, hypocritically, turned his back on all the worlds’ free people. He could have used his monetary power and corporate influence to educate but he has chosen to hide behind a transparent disclaimer. If you want to sell coffee to the free-world and that “free-world” is continuously being bombed, you need to step up and help defend it, even if your are only using words.


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