Free meals to Israeli soldiers burn McDonald's in the Middle Easttext_fields
McDonald's, the global fast-food giant, finds itself embroiled in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas after its Israeli outlet provided free meals to soldiers fighting against Palestine, enraging the Arab countries in the Middle East where a call for a boycott resonates.
The despair over the action by McDonald's is strong in Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East. Outlets in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, and Turkey distanced themselves from the Israeli counterpart, collectively pledging over $3 million to support Palestinians in Gaza.
McDonald's Israel faced a significant backlash, prompting the company to make its Instagram account private.
Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator Thomas Friedman's once-touted "Golden Arches theory of conflict prevention," suggesting that countries with a McDonald's presence don't go to war, has been brought into question.
But the controversy sheds light on the limitations of Friedman's theory, which posited that economic interdependence, symbolized by the presence of major chains like McDonald's, would deter countries from going to war, according to a report published in Al Jazeera.
Recent conflicts, such as the Kosovo War and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, involving countries with McDonald's outlets, have discredited this theory.
The fractious dynamics within the McDonald's empire mirror the real tensions and passions of the region, challenging the notion that economic ties alone can prevent conflict.
McDonald's is not the only global brand to face scrutiny over its stance on geopolitical issues. Unilever's subsidiary, Ben and Jerry's, faced criticism for boycotting Israeli-occupied territories, and Zara was boycotted after its Israeli franchise chairman hosted an event for a far-right Israeli minister.
This incident with McDonald's adds to the growing list of multinational corporations navigating the complexities of global politics. It serves as a stark reminder that even iconic brands are not immune to being drawn into controversies that reflect the broader political landscape, dispelling the dream that capitalism and trade alone can quell nationalistic fervour.