McDonald's Israel has refused an offer to open a branch of its restaurant chain in a mall slated to be built in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, according to a report in the Calcalist newspaper.This snub by the McDonald's franchisee has led to calls for a boycott:
Tzahi Nahmias, the realtor who is marketing the mall's commercial space, told the paper that McDonald's refused to open a branch because Ariel is located beyond the Green Line.
McDonald's confirmed that it did not intend to open in Ariel and said that its refusal to operate in the West Bank "had always been the restaurant chain's policy," according to the report.
Nahmias said that there were other companies besides McDonald's, that he refused to name, that expressed concerns that opening in the mall would negatively impact their international business.
Rami Levy, Israeli supermarket magnate and one of the entrepreneurs behind the Ariel mall, did not refer specifically to McDonald's decision but he did tell the paper that businesses that refuse[ing] to open in the West Bank also harm the Arab population there.
"I do not accept that companies make business decisions that are informed by political considerations. The mall in Ariel is expected to employ Arab and Jewish workers from the area and to provide services for these populations" Levy said.
"This boycott is superfluous, and it harms the Arab population that it is supposedly trying to protect," he added.
Israeli artists as well as academics have boycotted the city because of its location beyond the Green Line.
In March, during US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel students from Ariel University were not invited to a speech that he gave in Jerusalem to Israeli university students.
Activists are calling to boycott McDonald's burger restaurants nationwide over the refusal by Omri Padan, owner / CEO of McDonald’s Israel and a founder of Peace Now, to place a branch in the new mall being built in Ariel, because of its location. [...]While I can support McDonald's in itself, I cannot support Padan if this is how he's going to run business, and his continued associations with Peace Now are a serious problem. The Ariel mayor says McDonald's has become the real loser in this affair:
Demonstrators protesting the McDonald's decision called to consume Israeli Burger Ranch fast food in branches across Israel in response.
Samaria Council Chairman Gershon Mesika said in a statement, "Burgers and politics should be kept independent of each other. Supporters of Israel around the world may decide to make a statement on behalf of [Judea and Samaria] Yesha.
“Local residents will surely enjoy the Ariel mall Burger Ranch menu, and McDonald's may come to realize the financial implications of its decision."
Likewise, Yigal Delmonti, deputy director of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha Council) charged, “McDonald’s has turned from a business into an organization with an anti-Israel political agenda.
Fast food chain McDonald’s is the biggest loser from its own decision to boycott the city of Ariel, Mayor Eliyahu Shviro said on Thursday.If Padan continues down his awful path, he'll only destroy his local franchise in the end.
[...] "There is no place in our country for boycotts, it's a miserable decision. We condemn any boycott which comes from ideological motives," he said.
Shviro said that not having a McDonald’s in Ariel was no big loss, as there were enough big chains lining up to open branches in the city’s new mall. [...]
Anyone who boycotts Ariel, said Shviro, ultimately harms peace efforts with the Arabs more than he harms the city.
“When they wanted to boycott the Ariel University they also hurt the Arab students who study there,” he noted. “When factories chose to boycott the industrial zone in Ariel, they hurt the Arab workers who make five times what they earn in PA cities like Shechem and Ramallah.”
Shviro added, "If they boycott us, then the Palestinian employee ends up being fired and returns to violence. If that's what they want – let them go ahead. We are the ones who really demonstrate how to make peace and how to co-exist. Anyone who hurts Jews also hurts the Arabs because co-existence comes from below."
The Mayor noted that all attempts to boycott Ariel to date have failed miserably, pointing out an attempt several years ago by leftist actors to boycott Ariel's cultural center which fizzled out with time.
"We have a university that is thriving, the boycott of the cultural center failed, and there are shows from both Israel and abroad taking place there all the time,” said Shviro. “The mall will open and succeed as well. [Businessman] Rami Levy (who will operate the new mall) recognizes the potential of Ariel’s residents and students, and I hope the government will give us the opportunity to build and develop because the city of Ariel has the potential to triple itself.”