Activists picket outside ‘pro-Israel’ McDonalds
By Marc Abizeid

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

BEIRUT: McDonalds became the latest target of the boycott campaign against pro-Israeli businesses Tuesday when a couple of dozen activists representing the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (ULDY) picketed outside the fast-food chain’s Hamra location across from the American University of Beirut (AUB).

“People who sit there and don’t care – may they eat poison,” they shouted, addressing the few customers who ignored the protesters and munched on their food inside the restaurant. “You’re being fed Palestinian meat,” they continued.

ULDY regularly calls for protests outside large restaurants and businesses that the group accuses of contributing directly or indirectly to Israel. Last month the same activists held a similar protest outside a Starbucks cafe, also located in Hamra.

At McDonalds, they held up signs and handed out flyers to passers-by. One of the signs read: “300 job opportunities in Lebanon, is this worth one Palestinian life?” The phrase was in response to McDonalds’ defenders in the country who say that the local franchise is run by Lebanese, uses Lebanese products and provides incomes for 300 Lebanese families.

“We have come here today to spread knowledge of the importance of the boycott,” said ULDY member Tarek al-Ali. “Whats being done in Gaza [isn’t over yet]. People there are still sick, suffering, feeling hunger and are still under siege by Israel.”

Several police officers quietly observed as the store’s manager came out to confront the protesters but, outnumbered and facing a deeply passionate crowd, soon retreated.

“I always had this guilt like we should not go eat at McDonalds nor at Starbucks or any of these franchises that are supporting the Zionists,” Rasha Moghnieh, 21, replied when asked why she didn’t cross the picket line to join her friends inside the restaurant.

“It’s not about individuals,” she said. “Governments should be boycotting these chains.”