As evidenced by the e-mail quoted above, Starbucks drew criticism in the U.S. for the closure. In the U.S. anything that smacks of preference bestowed upon Arab interests or short shrift given to Israeli interests is perceived as something that needs be protested. This simplified world view reduces complex matters to ones of good guys versus bad guys, and that this system proves wholly useless when other factors interfere does little to lessen its comfort value.
Starbucks didn't remove itself from Israel because it was
As Starbuck now says of the decision on its "Facts about Starbucks in the Middle East" web page:
A: 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.
Starbucks continues to perform well in Arab countries. Though one might suppose
All of this has led to additional opposing rumors, that Starbucks either supports Israel through financial contributions (to that country's military) or that it is a "Muslim operation" whose CEO has bragged about his hatred for Israel:
The recent Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza has brought the hullaballoo to an all-time high, getting Schultz in trouble with both sides. Activists using the boycott app Buycott called for consumers to stop buying Starbucks coffee, saying Schultz is a “propagandist for Israel.” The effort mentioned that he was honored by Aish HaTorah, an Orthodox organization, in 1998, and said that the company "sponsors fundraisers for Israel," although it didn't provide specifics to support that claim.
Starbucks responded to the accusations that it's somehow on Israel's side by updating and reposting policy on the Middle East, which explains that it supports neither the Israeli government, nor the army, nor, indeed, any political or religious cause. At which point, wouldn't you know it, pro-Israel activists took umbrage, calling in their turn for their own boycott.
“If he’s so concerned that anti-Israel boycotters will hurt his business, let’s show him what pro-Israel folks can do!” authors of the counter-boycott petition wrote about Schultz.
Neither is correct: although Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz may have personal sympathies for Israel, the company does not contribute money to that country, nor does it support (either morally or financially) other countries in that region:
Q: Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?
A: No. This is absolutely untrue. Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false. Starbucks is a publicly held company and as such, is required to disclose any corporate giving each year through a proxy statement.
Q: Has Starbucks ever sent any of its profits to the Israeli government and/or Israeli army?
A: No. This is absolutely untrue.
Barbara "coffee to go" Mikkelson