Gaza Conflict Sparking Cola War Abroad

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A screen shot from Hurriyet Daily News showing Governor Ali Yerlikay surrounded by Fanta. Credit: Screen shot from Hurriyet Daily News.

Businesses in Turkey and India are spurning Coca-Cola in response to the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, according to several news sources.

Social media activists are also making calls to boycott consumer companies that do business with Israel in general and Coca-Cola, which has had a bottling plant in Israel since the 1960s, in particular.

Ironically, Pepsi, which shunned Israel during the Cold War era in deference to the Arab boycott, has also fallen victim.

Many restaurants and small business have pulled Coca-Cola from their menus or shelves, according to Today's Zaman, which also noted that a major union called for a boycott of Israeli products on Sunday.

In Mumbai, India, Muslims have called for a boycott of PepsiCo, Kraft Foods Group and Nestle products as well as Coca-Cola, the Jakarta Globe reported Thursday.

“This is our way of showing our anger against Israel,” Omaer Shaikh, who runs the Shalimar restaurant in Mumbai, was quoted as saying. For us, Coke and Pepsi is human blood. They are financing the war against Palestine.”

The boycott movement, however, is far from universal.

The governor of a Turkish province, photographed posing with bottles of Fanta, has denied that he is boycotting Coca-Cola over Israel's military campaign in Gaza, according to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.

The local daily Tekirdağ Taraf had claimed that Tekirdağ Governor Ali Yerlikaya refused to drink Coca-Cola during an official Ramadan fast-breaking iftar dinner, asking for Fanta to be served to guests instead.

But the governor has denied the claims via Twitter, reported Hurriyet.

“I didn’t even notice which brand of drink was on the table,” he tweeted, while also expressing his full support for the boycott. Yerlikaya said he knows that Fanta is also a product of the Coca-Cola Company.

Coca-Cola has been increasingly targeted in Turkey for its allegedly pro-Israel stance. The company released a statement on July 21, "denying that it supports any particular country or political stance and saying it is the third largest employer and fifth largest investor in Palestine," Hurriyet said.

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