The American coffee chain Starbucks announced this week that it did not fund Israel in an attempt to ward off calls for a boycott of its business. In a statement posted on its website, the company clarified that neither the chain, nor its Jewish CEO Howard Schultz, ever transferred funds to Israel or the Israeli Defense Forces. The statement also mentioned the fact that Starbucks closed its branches in Israel in 2003, due to what it termed "on-going operational challenges."
In its website Starbucks posted a Q&A page dubbed "Facts about Starbucks in the Middle East," in which to the question "Is it true that Starbucks or Howard Schultz provides financial support to Israel?" the company wrote the unequivocal answer "No. This is absolutely untrue." Adding that "Rumors that Starbucks or Howard provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army are unequivocally false."
On the same page the company said "Starbucks has been and remains a non-political organization." Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson told CNN that the same is true as regards to Schultz. He also said that, Starbucks decision to leave Israel "was not related to political issues." And that the company may decide to do business in Israel again in the future.
Starbucks issued the statement in response to a call to boycott the company due to its support of "the occupation of Palestine." The call to boycott has been circulating on the smartphone application Buycott, which enables its users to publicize calls for boycott. 240 thousand users have joined the call to boycott Starbucks over its alleged support for Israel. Olson did not directly mention the app but mentioned an "uptick in false rumors out there about Starbucks and the Middle East."
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