What exactly is the dispute between pro-Palestinians and Starbucks?

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaDec 22, 2023 | 15:40

What exactly is the dispute between pro-Palestinians and Starbucks?

It's been over 70 days since the Israel-Hamas war began this year, impacting many individuals and brands. Among them, Starbucks faces significant backlash, with the ongoing call for its boycott.

What's happening?

  • Due to the Israel-Hamas war, numerous pro-Palestinian individuals are advocating for a boycott of Starbucks on social media.

  • Reports suggest this boycott has affected the company's sales.

  • CEO Laxman Narasimhan addressed the issue on the company's website (December 19), condemning violence, hate, misinformation, and weaponized speech related to various conflicts.

"Our stance is clear. We stand for humanity"
- Laxman Narasimhan

He mentioned that protestors have been influenced by misrepresentations on social media about the brand's stance.

Why the tiff?

To trace the origins of the dispute, we need to look back a few months to the beginning of the conflict.

At the start of the conflict, some Starbucks Workers United (a union representing Starbucks baristas) and related local union branches showed solidarity with Palestinians through social media posts.

  • However, after receiving criticism, many of these posts were removed. This prompted leaders from the Jewish community to call for a complete boycott of Starbucks.
  • Starbucks clarified its stance, denouncing terrorism and violence, emphasizing disagreement with the viewpoints expressed by Workers United.
  • In October, Starbucks initiated legal action against the union for trademark infringement, citing concerns about its reputation and employee safety.
  • In response, the union counter-sued, alleging damage to its reputation.
  • Since then, many pro-Palestinians and Palestinians worldwide have continued their boycott of the brand.

The impact

  • The boycott has led to a slowdown in the company's sales.
  • Reports from Business Standard indicate an almost 9% decline in Starbucks shares, amounting to nearly an $11 billion loss within 19 days from November 16.
  • Social media engagement via the hashtag "#boycottstarbucks" surged in early November, with over 7,000 TikTok videos in the United States and a combined 51 million views.
  • Consumer boycotts and on-the-ground protests are ongoing worldwide. For instance, Howard University students gathered outside a Starbucks in Washington, D.C., to display pro-Palestine messages.
  • There's also a theory that the boycott stems from claims that Starbucks funds Israel's army.
  • However, the Starbucks official website refutes this, stating, "Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel? No. This is absolutely untrue."

What are your thoughts on the brand?

Last updated: December 22, 2023 | 15:40
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