Why Is McDonald's Being Roped Into The Division Around The Israel-Hamas War?

A McDonald's restaurant in Israel
A McDonald's restaurant in Israel

A McDonald's restaurant in Israel

McDonald’s has been pulled into the ongoing divisions caused by the Israel-Hamas war, with even a Birmingham branch of the fast food chain being impacted.

When the Palestinian militants of Hamas launched an unexpected attack on Israel on October 7, killed 1,400 people and took more than 200 people hostage, Tel Aviv declared war.

In its subsequent siege of Gaza, air strikes and ground invasion, Israel has killed more than 8,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry of the Palestinian territory.

This Middle East conflict shows no sign of slowing down, and, as one of the world’s most complex conflicts, has sparked an international conversation.

And now McDonald’s has been roped in, too. Here’s what you need to know.

McDonald’s in Israel donates meals

During the first week of the war, the fast-food chain in Israel agreed to give thousands of free meals to Israel Defence Forces troops.

Eight days after Hamas’ attack, it said it was donating meals to “all those who are involved in the defence of the state, hospital and surrounding areas”.

Posts on social media claim that it has so far given out 100,000 free meals.

This particular franchise of the wider corporation is owned by Alonyal Ltd, according to a company statement.

McDonald’s in the region speak out

This move from the Israeli branch prompted other branches in the region to remind customers that they were operate as independents in a lot of ways, with different wages and prices.

Each branch operates autonomously and is owned locally, meaning they can make their own statements or donations to various causes.

There are more than 40,000 locations around the world.

So franchise groups in Kuwait, Pakistan and other countries released statements pointing out that they did not share any ownership with their Israel counterpart.

For instance, McDonald’s Oman said on social media it had donated towards Gaza relief.

It added: “We also would like to confirm that McDonald’s Corporation is a listed company, owned by millions of shareholders from around the world, including Arabs and Muslims.

“McDonald’s Corporation never interferes in policies and always adheres to absolute neutrality and does not adopt any political positions for its commercial interests around the world.”

“What the licensee in Israel was an independent and private act, and not with the approval or direction of the international company or any other licensee, especially in our Arab world.”

It concluded that this branch would “stand with Gaza in this difficult times”.

Similar statements were released from other regions branches, such as McDonald’s Pakistan and McDonald’s Kuwait, amid reports of vandalism against the chain across other countries.

McDonald’s the franchise stays quiet

The company told CNN it was looking after its franchises, and that it was making a $1million (£823,112) donation to the Red Cross and the World Food Program to help with the ongoing situation.

The corporation declined to comment when approached by Reuters.

McDonald’s in Birmingham is targeted

Two weeks after the Israeli McDonald’s post went viral, a clip of circulating on TikTok showed someone painting mice in the four colours of the Palestinian flag – red, green, white and black – and then throwing them into a nearby McDonald’s.

The activist in question, shouted: “Free fucking Palestine!”

However the video and the account which posted the clip was later removed.

A McDonald’s spokesperson told LBC: “We are aware of an incident in our Birmingham Star City restaurant this evening where a number of mice were released by a member of the public.

“Following the removal of the mice, the restaurant has been fully sanitised and our pest control partners have been called out to conduct a full inspection.”

It’s not just McDonald’s

As the text added onto the end of the TikTok, other big names have been criticised for supporting Israel over the war, including Starbucks and Disney.

A few weeks ago, Starbucks was in a row with its employees in the Workers United union a few weeks ago over workers’ pro-Palestine social media posts.

Disney was also scrutinised after donating $2 million (£1.6 million) to Israeli aid groups a week after the war began.