Burger King yields to boycott threat, drops Ma'aleh Adumim franchise

"It makes Burger King an accomplice to efforts to resurrect the use of boycotts against companies doing business in Israel," Foxman said in a letter to Burger King. Burger King has more than 10,000 restaurants worldwide including 46 in Israel, 40 in Saudi Arabia and 31 in Kuwait. Earlier this month, 10 Arab-American organizations called for a boycott of Burger King because of the Ma'aleh Adumim restaurant.

The Jerusalem Post
August 27, 1999

Burger King yields to boycott threat, drops Ma'aleh Adumim franchise
Marilyn Henry

NEW YORK (August 27) - The international fast-food chain Burger King said yesterday that it would cancel immediately the right of franchise-holder Rikamor Ltd., to operate the chain's outlet in Ma'aleh Adumim.

The announcement in Miami came after protests and boycott threats from Arab and Moslem groups and peace group Gush Shalom, who said the restaurant is located in occupied territory.

"Burger King has no interest in taking sides in the Arab-Israeli peace process, except to welcome its early and mutually acceptable outcome," the company said in a statement from its US headquarters.

"Burger King regrets that its name and reputation have become entangled in matters that have nothing to do with providing quality food and service to its customers," David Williams, president of Burger King in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in the statement.

The decision was made on a "purely commercial basis" and in the best interests of its employees, the company's statement said.

Burger King also accused Rikamor of breach of its franchise contract and misrepresentation. Rikamor has an agreement that allows it to operate the outlets in Israel.

"Specifically, Rikamor falsely informed Burger King that the food counter would be located in Israel," the company's statement said. "It had been clearly understood between the two companies that Burger King would not approve Rikamor opening restaurants in the West Bank at this sensitive time in the peace process."

It also said Burger King had held "extensive discussions and consultations over the last several weeks with Rikamor. Rikamor's major shareholder… twice assured Burger King that he had undertaken to close the food counter; but the food counter remains open."

Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the announcement a "blatant capitulation by Burger King to American-Arab and Moslem organizations."

"It makes Burger King an accomplice to efforts to resurrect the use of boycotts against companies doing business in Israel," Foxman said in a letter to Burger King.

Burger King has more than 10,000 restaurants worldwide including 46 in Israel, 40 in Saudi Arabia and 31 in Kuwait.

Earlier this month, 10 Arab-American organizations called for a boycott of Burger King because of the Ma'aleh Adumim restaurant.

In Washington, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee welcomed the company's announcement.

"We are glad that Burger King came to realize that its participation in Israeli settlement activity was irresponsible and must end," it said yesterday in a statement. "No respectable business should involve itself in any way with these illegal and immoral activities and we are delighted that Burger King has seen the light."

Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel last night called the cancellation "very grave" and called on American Jews and Israelis to boycott the restaurant chain.

Claiming the decision amounted to a "declaration of war," Kashriel said: "We call on the American Jewish community and all Israelis who believe in the idea of Greater Jerusalem to support Ma'aleh Adumim."

(David Brinn contributed to this report.)


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