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McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski on Thursday said that several markets, including the fast food chain, in the Middle East and around the world have been affected by the calls for a boycott in support of Gaza.
Boycott campaigns have hit several Western brands, such as Starbucks and KFC, who reportedly have pro-Israeli stances or are alleged to have financial ties to Israel and investments there.
Since October 7, following Israel’s relentless airstrikes and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas’ cross-border incursion, boycott calls have circulated widely on social media. Pro-Palestinian activists called on the public to buy from local alternatives instead.
McDonald’s, in particular, has received the brunt of the heat after the chain’s Israel branch posted on its social media accounts saying it gave thousands of free meals to personnel in the Israeli army less than two weeks after the war began.
“I recognize that several markets in the Middle East and some outside the region are experiencing a meaningful business impact due to the war and associated misinformation that is affecting brands like McDonald’s,” the CEO said in a LinkedIn post.
“This is disheartening and ill-founded. In every country where we operate, including in Muslim countries, McDonald’s is proudly represented by local owner-operators who work tirelessly to serve and support their communities while employing thousands of their fellow citizens,” he added.
Some of the Western brands are feeling the impact of boycotts in Egypt and Jordan that have now caught on in some countries outside the Arab region including Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Israeli bombardments have since killed about 22,438 people in Gaza by Thursday. As of fiscal 2022, the company franchised and operated about 40,275 McDonald’s restaurants across more than 100 countries.