Arabs boycott Starbucks.


In the Arab world (where Starbucks has over 60 stores) and here in the U.S., pro-Palestinian groups have been calling for a boycott of Starbucks because of statements made by the company’s chairman Howard Schultz. Schultz, who is active in the Seattle Jewish community, has spoken about the current Middle Eastern crisis at a number of recent gatherings, including a rally at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in April, a speech at the UW in March, and an event earlier this winter at Starbucks headquarters, during which he discussed a recent trip to Israel.

Some of Schultz’s remarks were selectively quoted in local news accounts, then spread across Muslim media and bulletin boards as evidence of an anti-Palestinian bias. Two weeks ago, activists in Beirut handed out leaflets in front of Starbucks stores accusing Schultz of being “an active Zionist.”

An organization called American Muslims for Peace and Justice, based in Washington, D.C., recently called for a Starbucks boycott in the U.S., and the group’s director, Raeed Tayeh, appeared last week on The O’Reilly Factor and Hardball With Chris Matthews. Tayeh declared that Schultz “acted as if the Palestinians are just a bunch of anti-Semitic mongrels who want to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth.”

The offending statements appear to have been extracted from a KING 5 news account of the April rally at Temple De Hirsch, which was posted on the KING 5 Web site and, in turn, copied in many other places, including on the Web site of Arab News, an English-language daily in Saudi Arabia. It quoted Schultz as saying, “What is going on in the Middle East is not an isolated part of the world. The rise of anti-Semitism is at an all-time high since the 1930s.”

A story the same day in The Seattle Times provided a little more context, noting that Schultz was discussing not just Palestinian terrorist attacks but recent anti-Semitic incidents in Europe. “There are people in this world who want to eliminate [us] from the face of this earth,” said Schultz, according to the Times. “Ladies and gentlemen, the 1930s are back, and we can’t ignore it any longer.” An actual transcript of Schultz’s speech wasn’t available.

Ironically, Starbucks has a much heavier presence in the Arab world than inside the “Zionist entity.” Starbucks has opened only five stores in Israel but has nine in Lebanon, 13 in Kuwait, 19 in Saudi Arabia, and 23 in the United Arab Emirates. A spokesperson would not comment on whether the boycott is having any noticeable effect on sales.

But Schultz has issued an apology, saying, “I deeply regret that my speech in Seattle was misinterpreted to be anti-Palestinian. My position has always been pro-peace and for the two nations to coexist peacefully.”

Mark D. Fefer


Reporting by Temma Ehrenfeld/New York

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Chris Fagan trekking across Antarctica in 2014. Contributed by Chris Fagan
South Pole or Bust

The story of a North Bend couple who trekked across Antarctica.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference Nov. 12 with his wife, Trudi.
Inslee to hold news conference to announce new restrictions

Among them, reportedly, will be a ban on indoor service at restaurants and retail limitations.

Jay Inslee (D), left, and Loren Culp (R). File photo
Gov. Inslee surges to big lead as he nears rare third term

Statewide office roundup: Schools chief Reykdal in close contest; Secretary of State Wyman fends off challenge.

Sex education bill Referendum 90 is passing

It will decide whether Senate Bill 5395 will be enacted into law.

Exterior building and signage view from 9th Avenue of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA.
Voters approve $1.74 billion bond for Harborview Medical Center

King County voters are saying yes to upgrades at Harborview Medical Center.… Continue reading