Coca-Cola Palestine CEO Urges Boycott of Israel
Zahi Khouri Calls for sanctions against the Jewish State and claims Israel stole Palestinian land
On Coca-Cola’s website, one can read of an award that was recently presented to Zahi Khouri, CEO of Coca-Cola Palestine, founder of the Palestinian National Beverage Company and exclusive holder of the Coca-Cola franchise in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The beverage conglomerate’s blog “invites Khouri to share his optimism, grit and reflection” with their global readers.
One wonders if his reflections represent Coca-Cola as a whole; for the Palestinian-American entrepreneur supports a boycott of Israel and urges sanctions against the Jewish State.
Israel faces mounting pressures from a number of businesses doing business in its neighborhood. Last week, Stephane Richard, the CEO of Orange, the French telecom conglomerate, backtracked from earlier remarks he made in which he implied his company would boycott Israel. During an emergency visit to Israel, Mr. Richard advised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “I want to make it totally clear that Orange as a company has never supported and will never support any kind of boycott against Israel.”
Similar to Orange’s business model, Coca-Cola has a local partner in Israel.
In November 2014, The Jerusalem Post reported that “Coca-Cola plans to build its first factory in Gaza,” noting the company had invested $25 Million into its Palestinian area business in the past five years, with Mr. Khouri as a partner. At the time, Mr. Khouri said all the right things, including this memorable soundbite: “The only enemy of extremism is good jobs.” A deeper look at Mr. Khouri’s rhetoric, however, reveals an executive more in line with Gaza hardliners than has been portrayed in the press.
Perhaps at the time Coca-Cola was unaware of Mr. Khouri’s September 2014 op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel in which their partner & regional CEO noted that the “non-violent efforts of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates make sense as a means to force Israel to recognize that the occupation is not cost-free.” Coca-Cola’s local partner suggested that “countries, like those in the European Union, could enforce their own laws against doing businesses with countries that violate human rights.”
Perhaps Mr. Khouri should re-read the Coca-Cola Code of Business Conduct for franchisees, which states, “because The Coca-Cola Company is incorporated in the United States, our employees around the world often are subject to U.S. laws.” In addition to it being morally wrong to boycott Israel, recent amendments by the U.S. House and Senate require U.S. trade negotiators to “discourage politically motivated actions” by foreign countries and international organizations that aim to “penalize or otherwise limit” commercial relations with Israel or “persons doing business in Israel or in territories controlled by Israel.” A regional CEO threatening to boycott America’s staunchest Mid-East ally is cause for concern on many levels for Coca-Cola.
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