Israeli Web site urges McDonald’s boycott

The hard-line Israeli Web site “Deot” – which means “opinions” – is urging a consumer boycott against the McDonald’s Corp. fast food restaurant chain whose Saudi Arabian operation is donating US$0.30 from every meal sold during the Ramadan month, which is holy to Muslims, to aide Palestinian children hurt in recent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.

A banner on Deot’s home page leads to a boycott announcement, which was sent to thousands of supporters on the site’s mailing list. The site contends that McDonald’s “is contributing money to support the Palestinian children’s hospital.” However, McDonald’s Israeli Web site clearly says the company is donating to the Snider Hospital for Children in Tel Aviv.

Deot further contends that McDonald’s is a long-time supporter of the Arab boycott on companies selling in Israel and calls one of the company’s franchise owners, Omri Padan a “left-wing avid activist.” Padan is a founder of Shalam Ahshav, or Peace Now, Israel’s largest peace supporting, nongovernmental organization.

Deot is urging its supporters “if there’s a Burger King or Burger Ranch (an Israeli fast food chain) location nearby, please turn to it.”

However, Deot’s site editor Yoni Levav said that “we have no complaint against McDonald’s Israel,” but that the issue is that franchisee Padan did not donate to Israeli children hurt in the recent clashes.

“That would not hurt Padan’s pocket,” he said, adding that: “if the international headquarters of McDonald’s allows franchisees to donate to the Palestinian struggle, I think it morally wrong to eat their food.”

The chain has a policy of encouraging community involvement and assisting children, a spokesman for McDonald’s said. The accusation that the chain is complying with the Arab boycott are unfounded, given that the company’s first-ever restaurant in the Middle East opened in Israel, he said.

Deot, which represents hard liners, hasn’t seemed to have much affect with its petition.