KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians shouldn’t target the workers at businesses such as McDonald’s and Starbucks in their efforts to boycott Israeli-linked companies, said Palestinian ambassador to Malaysia Dr Anwar Al Agha.
In an interview with The Star yesterday, Dr Anwar said the workers were merely trying to earn a living and it was unfair for the workers to be subjected to harassment and attacks from fellow Malaysians.
Although he admitted that it could be a way to pressure Israel to stop the aggression in Gaza, he stressed that social media posting about any company’s alleged links with Israel “cannot always be verified”.
McDonald’s and Starbucks employees have faced verbal abuse, and some restaurants were vandalised after the social media posts highlighted that the companies diverted part of their profits to support Israel.
Dr Anwar said it would be more appropriate if the people channelled their frustrations at the United States government, which has recently signed an additional US$225mil (RM718.8mil) for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.
“It would be better if the people go and protest at the US administration and pressure them to stop funding the Israelis with sophisticated weapons,” he said.
Both McDonald’s and Starbucks Malaysia have released official statements saying that they do not support nor do they channel funds to support Israel’s aggression in Gaza.
“Our people have also broken down in tears because of threatening telephone calls,” said McDonald’s Malaysia managing director Stephen Chew on Monday.
“There were also incidents where our people were physically intimidated and publicly humiliated, and of property being vandalised,” he said. “Some were even afraid to go back to their hometowns for Hari Raya for fear of being harassed.”
In a letter to the media, he said: “Our staff in uniform have been publicly humiliated. Others were shunned by their peers when they went to the mosque.
“Even the children of our staff have been singled out in their schools, confused by warnings by some teachers not to go to McDonald’s.”