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Starbucks is Not on BDS List

Hind Khoudary Hind Khoudary
23rd May 2021
Starbucks is Not on BDS List
The company said it has no ties to Israel (Getty).

The Claim

Starbucks is pro-Israel. 

Emerging story

Following the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, countries started boycotting products that support Israel. Starbucks was among the list of companies that people were calling to boycott. 

Misbar’s Analysis

MENA: Misbar’s investigation found that Starbucks was not on the Boycott Divestment and Sanction Guide's evolving list of companies and individuals that support Israel. Many Palestinians rely on the list as a source for which companies to boycott.

Starbucks ended its foray into Israel by closing its six stores on April 1, 2003. The coffee giant had first opened shops in Israel in August 2001 in a joint venture with Delek Group, a publicly traded Israeli conglomerate.

A 2014 statement by Starbucks issued an official statement to clarify that it "had never supported the Israeli government or the Israeli military financially" in response to the decades-old rumors.

A supporting image within the article body

They added that they closed the stores for operational reasons, not political: “We do not make business decisions based on political issues. We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market. After many months of discussion with our partner we came to this amicable decision. While this was a difficult decision for both companies, we believe it remains the right decision for our businesses.”

Arab News did find Starbucks’ retired CEO Howard Schultz to be a Zionist. Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2016 but is still chairman emeritus, meaning he could seemingly have some sway over company culture. 

However, Starbucks’ current CEO, Kevin Johnson, dropped the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group, from racial bias training after activists pointed to the ADL’s support for Israel. He has explicitly said “I’m not Howard” in his approach to the company. 

Experts have noted that most of Starbucks' branches in the Middle East have been franchised by the Kuwaiti Alshaya Group, which employs about 40,000 individuals, according to their website. Calls to boycott Starbucks could negatively impact the livelihoods of thousands of families across the region.

Although Starbucks’ ex-CEO and current chairman emeritus is thought to be pro-Israel, the company’s new CEO has disavowed pro-Israel groups. Further, the company said in an official press release that they are not pro-Israel, and the company is not on the BDS list of companies to boycott. We rate this claim as misleading.

Starbucks' statement posted to the Starbucks Newsroom in 2010 was last updated in May 2021.

Additional reporting by Suzy Woltmann.

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