Starbucks Refuses to Do Business with Israel, But Has 600 Stores in Muslim Countries

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With so much unrest in the Middle East, it’s nearly impossible for an international company to take sides. Americans have found themselves divided once again, pitted against one another regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict.

One company in particular was caught bragging about their vast partnerships with many Muslim countries in the Middle East, around 600 to be exact.

Facing almost as much publicity as Chick-fil-A, Starbucks is giving customers yet another reason to dump them.

The coffee chain closed every store in Israel over 11 years ago and has recently issued a statement that they do not support Israel in any way and will not in the future.

The company is making it clear that neither Starbucks nor CEO Howard Schultz “provides financial support to Israel,” or her military, in the wake of what the coffee giant called “false rumors.”

The company explained that it closed all of its stores in Israel in 2003 because of “operational challenges.”

Spokesman Jim Olson wouldn’t go into detail about what “challenges” the company faced with Israel, but made it clear that it “was not related to political issues.”

Questions and Answers from the official Starbucks website:

Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?

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.

Has Starbucks ever sent any of its profits to the Israeli government and/or Israeli army?

No. This is absolutely untrue.

Is it true that Starbucks closed its stores in Israel for political reasons?=

No. 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.

Do you have plans to re-open should the opportunity arise?

We decided to dissolve our partnership in Israel in 2003 due to the on-going operational challenges that we experienced in that market.

When and where the business case makes sense and we see a fit for the Starbucks brand in a market we will work closely with a local partner to assess the feasibility of offering our brand to that community. We will therefore continue to assess all opportunities on this basis. At present, we will continue to grow our business in the Middle East as we have been very gratified by the strong reception of the brand in the region. We continue to work closely with our business partner, the Alshaya Group, in developing our plans for the region.

Do you work with a Middle East partner to operate Starbucks stores?

Through a licensing agreement with trading partner and licensee MH Alshaya WLL, a private Kuwait family business, Starbucks has operated in the Middle East since 1999. Today Alshaya Group, recognized as one of the leading and most influential retailing franchisees in the region, operates nearly 600 Starbucks stores in the Middle East and Levant region. In addition to its Starbucks stores, the Alshaya Group operates more than 2,600 retail stores in the Middle East, Russia and North Africa, providing jobs for more than 40,000 employees of more than 110 nationalities.

We are extremely fortunate and proud to have forged a successful partnership for the past fifteen years and look forward to building on this success.