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The al Aqsa Friends UK and Starbucks
Last uploaded : Thursday 10th Mar 2005 at 23:03
Contributed by : Carol Gould


Recently an advisory was sent to one of this magazine?s writers from the Friends of al-Aqsa, a group based in Great Britain whose purpose is to bring into the public dialogue the issues exercising Palestinians, not the least of which is the Right of Palestinian Return.

The advisory announces with considerable fanfare the British charity Oxfam?s cessation of relations with Starbucks. Explaining that the Islamic Human Rights Commission and Innovative Minds ( a group supported by Friends of al Aqsa), the Palestinian Return Centre, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been in meetings with Oxfam, it emerges that the campaign?s target is ?pro-Zionist multinational chain Starbucks.? That is news to us. So, all those Frappuccinos we have been guzzling here at Current Viewpoint are in some way supporting rampaging settlers and angry rabbis?

The document from Friends of al Aqsa says the group of organisations listed above had expressed its concerns to Oxfam regarding its one-year contract with Starbucks. According to the narrative, Starbucks had agreed to contribute ?100,000? (a currency is not specified) to Oxfam?s rural development programme in the East Harare coffee growing region of Ethiopia. We are instructed at this stage of the document to read background material at:

Then it all begins to take shape: the al Aqsa paper states that Starbucks chair Howard Schultz is a pro-Zionist activist who helps ?student projects in North America and Israel give presentations on the Israeli perspective of the Intifadah.? We are told that Starbucks has been a sponsor of bowl4israel and supports occupation troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thanks are then proffered to the pressure groups and supporters who had petitioned Oxfam to cease its relationship with Starbucks, stressing that the petitioners (?those struggling for justice?) had been instrumental in ensuring that Oxfam adhered to humanitarian values.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission asks campaigners to contact Barbara Stocking of Oxfam to express gratitude for their action and to express support for a victory for common sense.

Jewish people, like those who run ORT, send considerable sums money to the Third World. Jewish World ORT supports needy projects in Muslim and Christian countries. Golda Meir worked tirelessly to aid African nations. The local synagogue to Current Viewpoint?s office gives large sums to non-Jewish charities and causes.

It is in the Jewish tradition of 'tzedakah' to give to anyone in need. Israel was one of the first to jump to aid Muslim nations and peoples after the tsunami. Hundreds of synagogues across the Western world raised thousands for the tsunami victims.

The al Aqsa document offends Jews who support pro-Palestinian causes because by attacking Howard Schultz it attacks every Jew who gives tzedakah to his or her chosen cause. Oxfam is a registered charity and should not be taking political sides. Little kids in Israel are devising computer programmes, not blowing people up.

For every Howard Schultz there are a thousand ill-informed Imams inculcating innocent Muslim children with hatred of the West. Schultz sends youngsters to learn worthy skills and to get fresh air in Israel, which is their right as Jews, as is the right of a Christian sponsor of trips to the Holy Land.

Here is what we have been learning about Howard Schultz, from ?My Primetime - Great Entrepreneurs?: ?Schultz was born in 1952 and raised in a Brooklyn, N.Y., housing project. A football scholarship to Northern Michigan University was his ticket out, and after graduating he worked a variety of jobs?[starting Starbucks] this led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail. Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage --including coverage for unmarried spouses. Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan. These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover?Why was Schultz so generous? He remembers his father, who struggled mightily at low-paying jobs with little to show for it when he died..?

For more on this hard-working entrepreneur go to:


From Zero Million.com


we learn: ??Entrepreneurs reinvest their newly created wealth in the community: Howard Schultz has insisted that Starbucks adopt an environmental mission statement. This pledge commits Starbucks to only buying coffee that has been grown organically. The company also takes an interest in the farming communities that harvest the coffee beans. Starbucks has built schools, health clinics, and safe coffee processing facilities. Locally, Starbucks has worked with stars like Magic Johnson to bring Starbucks stores to poor African American neighborhoods across the country. The Starbucks Foundation sponsors literacy programs, Earth Day clean-ups, and regional AIDS walks?.?

When in the West hold symphony concerts or opera evenings to raise funds for Palestine, is the al Aqsa group next going to boycott it because many of the musicians are Jews?

When are these groups going to reach out to peace as Sharon has done and stop condemning everything Jews do to help their own people? There are 55 Muslim nations -- let the Jews support their own if they so desire. Whilst Mr Schultz is supporting seminars for young people in North America to understand the effects of the Intifadah on the survival of the tiny, sole Jewish State he is also donating assistance to the Third World.

Those who attended a one-day Friends of al Aqsa conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London last year would have witnessed the spine-chilling and often irrational hostility to the concept of Jewish Statehood fifty-six years after the establishment of Israel. From the speeches offered at the conference, most particularly that from Dr Izzam al Tamimi, the agenda of this group appears to be the dismantling from the Middle East of any vestige of a sovereign Jewish entity in the region. One speaker even suggested that John Kerry was a dangerous Zionist and that the huge majority of Jewish Democrats supported Zionist causes.

Whether Starbucks gives 100,000 coffee beans or dollars to Ethiopia is, we believe, irrelevant; Jews giving charity are not wanted by anti-Israel pressure groups, and even if a well-meaning Hadassah officer offered a large sum to the Third World, a paper would appear on the Web exposing her as a ?rabid Zionist? because she also gives to WIZO. (At this moment WIZO is sponsoring soup kitchens in Israel for the hundreds of citizens who have ended up in poverty as a result of the al Aqsa Intifadah.)

Campaigns like those promulgated by the British al-Aqsa group are retrogressive and counter-productive. When a Muslim company can produce as dynamic a coffee empire as Starbucks, or as clever a fresh food franchise as Marvellous Markets, and then give money and aid to all manner of men and women, I will applaud them. Yes, the agenda of this advisory is ?Sharon is killing our children whilst Starbucks cultivates Zionist youth in America,? but the spirit of the world at this moment in time is the earthquake of freedom movements emerging in the Middle East and we urge the al Aqsa Friends to enter that spirit, not boycott those incomparable Frappuccinos which we at Current Viewpoint fully intend continuing to buy with great passion in perpetuity.

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