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Protesters picket new Starbucks venue
Company founder decried as ‘Zionist’

Hala Kilani
Daily Star (Lebanon)
8 May 2002

Even before the newest Starbucks branch officially opened, protestors lined up to say “no” to the Seattle-based chain, which is owned by an outspoken supporter of Israel.

In recent weeks, a number of US chains have faced boycotts and demonstrations by Lebanese activists protesting the perceived pro-Israeli stand taken by the United States.

Bliss Street, across from the American University in Beirut’s main gate, was set to be the latest site for Starbucks, but Friday, a day before its official opening, activists staged a sit-in to protest both the US government’s position and that of the chain’s owner.

On Tuesday, a handful of AUB students followed suit. Holding banners calling for the boycott of American products, they distributed flyers denouncing Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz as an “active Zionist.”
The flyers cited a recent statement Schultz made at a synagogue in Seattle, Washington, geared toward rallying support for Israel’s latest onslaught in the Occupied Territories, in which he accused Palestinians of “not doing enough to stop terror.”

The flyer, which also said that Schultz was honored in 1998 by Israel “for his services,” seemed to raise awareness as several passersby told The Daily Star they were considering boycotting the cafe.

“I didn’t know about these facts. I just read them, and now I’m thinking about the boycott,” AUB student Rima Awar said.

Jack Dagilaitis, a US citizen who has lived in Beirut for 30 years, saw the protest on his way to the American Language Center where he serves as director. He encouraged the protesters, saying he was outraged by his country’s policies.

But some students did not seem so concerned, and sipped from cardboard cups bearing the Starbucks logo.

“They’re exaggerating in their acts,” said AUB student Charbel Younes. He criticized the protesters for attending an American university and for wearing jeans and shoes which, he said, were made in the United States. “They should boycott everything or nothing.”

Mohammed Rustom, an AUB student and one of the main protesters, chalked such claims up to ignorance.

“They wake up in the morning and they see Nike and DKNY in the mirror, so it’s natural for them to speak out against the boycott,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Starbucks manager standing quietly nearby refused to comment.