Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Starbucks and the War on Terror

Starbucks Coffee is ubiquitous on the high streets of most towns all over the world. They are also extremely active within most middle eastern and asian countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia and many other muslim majority countries.

This presence makes it all the more confusing when we receive emails and messages to support a boycott of Starbucks stores in the west, when the “muslim” countries are seemingly opening these stores at speed when others in the west are being forced to close through lack of business. I can only assume that, like myself, they were perhaps previously unaware of the extent of Starbucks coffees’ involvement in the “War on Terror”. Though the text messages we have received indicate a support of Zionism, which may have some truth in it, the verifiable facts are in fact a lot more concerning for any muslim.

I first heard about Starbucks briefly last year, when I read a book called “Bad Men” by Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights lawyer working to provide legal representation to those in Guantanamo Bay.( I urge anyone who has not done so already to read this book by the way, in order to understand the full horrors of the Bush legacy ). In it, he describes a visit to Guantanamo Bay that he undertook, and one item that caught my eye is a Starbucks being present on the Naval Base / Internment camp. This made me think, but in my own shallowness and desire for Frapucinnos, I ignored these early warning signs.

Then Gaza happened. Many emails came to my attention, saying such things as “Starbucks is giving Saturdays profits to Israel”, “Every coffee sold Starbucks is donating 10p” or “Drinking Starbucks is like drinking the blood of a palestinian child”. I decided to investigate these allegations for myself over the weekend, and so I can share my investigations with you.

Starbucks deny that they support Israel in terms of donations. You can see this on their website. However, they do not deny that their CEO, Howard Schultz, is an active Zionist. Inminds has a copy of an award (that has since been taken from their site ) which presented him with a “Israel 50th Anniversary Tribute Award” by Aish Hatora (fire of the Torah). This group financed an anti-islamic documentary that was posted out for free in key “swing states” in the United States in the recent US election ( but that’s another story). They are a pro-zionist organisation, encouraging the apartheid policy actively in Palestine at the moment.

Now, Starbucks could well argue ( as they have said on their site ), that the actions of its CEO does not reflect the organisation. We can then ask them why they sponsored a “Bowl4Israel” event (twice) in which monies raised went towards the Israeli Defence Forces benevolence fund. This organisation in a twisted irony produced posters stating that Palestinians are baby-killers.

What disturbs me most of all is their unquestioning support for the US Army and armed forces, who are at present occupying at least two countries (compared to Israels one ) and has killed over 100,000 muslim civilians in the past 5 years alone ( compared to Israels 3,000). In their support of the US armed forces, particularly the “war on terror”, Starbucks have made no contrasting statements and no attempts to hide their involvement ( unlike their Zionist-related activities). They are PROUD of their involvement, as their own statements say :-

“Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside or overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy… our partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly mark out coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they are able to enjoy a little piece of home. Our customer relations department in Seattle donated hundreds of pounds of coffee to the sailors in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group.”

It is also disturbing to read that Starbucks Coffee is being used in Military Interrogations as an incentive ( replacing the stereotypical “fancy a smoke?” ) in Guantanamo Bay, as a break from waterboarding, stress positions and torture.

Now, one has to ask : If I, a humble part-time activist, is able to uncover these things, then why are the muslim countries presumably unaware of these activities? Why would Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia and others grant licences to this company, knowing it is indirectly involved all the atrocities and torture of the US Military, through providing them free and subsidised coffee in between their daily activities of torture, rape and murder?

I don’t think there can be any doubt in Starbucks support for anti-muslim activities, and I am now committed to an “anti-frappucino” rule! If we all commit to these boycott, and in particular advise the inhabitants of the muslim countries ( which in some cases are nearly 100% muslim) to do the same, I am sure we will see either Starbucks alter its policy or else disinvest from the Middle east and muslim world.

I intend to write a letter to Starbucks advising them why I am ceasing to drink their coffee, and I will also write to their trading partners making them aware that I am disappointed with their association with Starbucks. These trading partners are :-

Apple, Borders, Hilton Group, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott Hotels, PepsiCo, Radisson SAS, Safeways, Starwood Hotel Group and T-Mobile.

If anyone would like references to substantiate this article, please email me. Also, if anyone would like a sample letter to send to starbucks, please do contact myself as well.

1 comment:

  1. Why don't you just post the references here for all to see, so we don't have to keep emailing you. Or is it just a way for you to publicly claim transparency, and hide behind a veil of 'pretending to share' when really you don't have any references