ACKERMAN BLASTS BURGER KING OVER A PROBLEM

"Rather than acting like the king of burgers, the chain is acting like the king of chickens—scared to stand up for what is right"" Ackerman said. ""If Burger King continues to act as if it had mad cow disease and wants to meddle in determining international policy, maybe politicians will try to suggest which burger franchises Americans should patronize."

News Release
September 24, 1999

ACKERMAN BLASTS BURGER KING OVER A WHOPPER OF A PROBLEM
U.S. House of Representatives
Congressman Gary Ackerman

The United States House of Representatives has a beef with Burger King! U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) joined by 72 other Members of Congress including most of the New York Delegation, today sent a letter to Burger King’s president, blasting the fast food giant for taking sides in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Ackerman said the company caved into Arab pressure by ordering its franchisee in Israel to remove the Burger King name from its four-month old restaurant in Ma’ale Adumim, a suburb of East Jerusalem that was annexed by Israel after the ’67 war. Ackerman said that the move signals that Burger King has concluded that this area is not rightfully a part of Israel.

"Burger King should not have its own foreign policy," Ackerman wrote in the letter to company president Dennis Malamatinas. "We strongly urge you to restore immediately, the franchise rights for the restaurant in Ma’ale Adumim without prejudice. We urge you to stand up to the reprehensible pressure from Arab organizations and to demonstrate that Burger King is a corporation that serves its patrons without regard to political pressure."

The controversy began last May when the eatery opened in a new mall in the area and Arab American and Muslim groups started a boycott of the Miami-based chain, a boycott that was about to be endorsed by the Arab League. They also led scattered demonstrations at Burger King restaurants in the United States. Burger King then ordered the franchise to remove the company name but the franchisee, Rikamor Ltd. refused, and has taken Burger King to court in Israel.

Ackerman noted that Burger King’s move establishes a precedent that sets U.S. businesses back on the path of declining to do business in Israel for fear of reprisals from Arab states. Ackerman also contended that Burger King’s lack of courage also sends a disturbing message that "pressure works" and that message will only increases the likelihood that such tactics would be used in the future against other corporations that do business in Israel.

"Rather than acting like the king of burgers, the chain is acting like the king of chickens—scared to stand up for what is right" Ackerman said. "If Burger King continues to act as if it had mad cow disease and wants to meddle in determining international policy, maybe politicians will try to suggest which burger franchises Americans should patronize."

"Burger King’s act of cowardice will only embolden those who feel that boycotts will succeed, witness the threats against Disney," Ackerman said. "Companies, especially American companies, should not succumb to pressure to cave in and participate in a new Arab boycott, the purpose of which is to deny that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel."

Please see the copy of the attached letter to Burger King’s President.

Contact: Jordan Goldes
(718) 423-2154

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