Poor Howard Schultz. No matter how hard the Starbucks head tries, he can’t seem to avoid being in the news as he is hated in so many parts of the world. Here in the UK he is hated because it is fashionable to spurn American globalization. I will never forget a “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” activist screaming at me shortly after 9/11, saying “American enterprises clogging the British high street” contributed to the hatred that caused the terror attacks. I reminded her that if KFC, Woolworths, McDonalds, Domino’s, Subway, and Starbucks closed all at once there would be about 500,000 Brits on the dole.
Schultz is hated by Anglo-Muslims because he is an alleged “mega-Zionista.” He is hated by the Guardianista intelligentsia of Primrose Hill, who were successful in banning Starbucks and its baristas from their high street. He is hated by the mullahs of the Middle East who have demanded the coffee chain be closed down because Queen Esther appears in its world-renowned logo. My esteemed journalistic colleague and respected historian Melanie Phillips, who does not suffer fools gladly and has an unparalleled instinct for a major news story, thinks the Queen Esther issue is more than just Islamist propaganda.
Now that the novelist Howard Jacobson has published a screed alerting the world to the explosion of anti-Semitism in Britain, which our mild-mannered chief rabbi calls a “tsunami,” and now that Zionist-hatred has metamorphosed into violence on the streets of London, I thought I would examine the process of hate-mongering evolving into mini-Kristallnachts.
First, some very recent background on Howard Schultz:
He met his newest nemesis in New York in February when he came up against Peter Mandelson, the twice-disgraced-but-back-in-government British Labour peer who said — as some of you are probably saying at this very moment — “Who the f **k is Howard Schultz?” because Schultzy dared to criticize Britain’s handling of the global financial crisis. His lordship did not know that the man slamming the disastrous credit meltdown in Britain was the creator of Starbucks and tore into him with merciless venom. How dare this upstart Jewish coffee grinder criticize the government! (The shameful £1 million CEO pension of Royal Bank of Scotland’s Fred “the Shred” Goodwin was amongst the many disgraceful shenanigans unfolding in the city of London when Howard dared to lash out at Lord Mandy.)
I happen to be a fan of Schultz. I think he had great courage when way back in 2002 he warned a synagogue congregation in California that anti-Semitism was on the rise and that American Jewry had better get real. (After Durban I and 9/11, I felt there was a seismic shift in the general perception of Israel and of Jewish influence in the world that allowed people like British MP Tam Dalyell to criticize Bush and Blair for surrounding themselves with a “cabal of Jews.” The irony of this, of course, is that Peter Mandelson was one of the “Jewish nasties” he listed, though technically Mandy, despite being from a Jewish family line, is not; but he might need to turn to Schultz one day in search of support and solidarity.)
The plight of Howard Schultz, who has in the 2009 slump seen the star and bucks fading from his legendary enterprise, is multifaceted. The reason why I am watching his case at close quarters is that the hatred of him by Muslims turned to ruthless violence in London only a few weeks ago. As Passover came to an end we were hearing that the supermarket chain Tesco had opened a customer hotline to deal with a deluge of complaints about the store selling Israeli goods. (Unfortunately there are no British matzah-makers so the Jew-haters were seething that the small, 260,000-in-number Anglo-Jewish community dared to want to buy Israeli matzot.) The anger about Israeli produce and products for sale in Britain has to be taken seriously. I have seen the rage that a request for “Israeli” or “kosher” inspires in shop assistants — and I am genuinely beginning to fear for the safety of stores. In Edgware, a leafy suburb of London, an Israeli family living in a not-so-affluent part of the area suffers constant harassment.
This takes us to the violence against Starbucks, which miraculously did not result in any fatalities but to me is a harbinger of things to come. The Zionist-hating websites have been fiercely blogging since the Operation Cast Lead campaign in Gaza and on MPACUK bloggers were urging one another to come out in force to the demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy. Sadly, the Kensington neighborhood suffered damage and fear.
The firebombing of a Starbucks in Whitechapel came just after the trashing of a Starbucks opposite the Israeli embassy and then two more were smashed to bits in London’s crowded West End. Brendan O’Neill, at Spiked, on the whole “Starbucks-as-funders-of-Zionist-aggression” theme as it spreads through the world of apoplectic anti-Zionists:
Many of the claims about “Zionist coffee” and a link between Starbucks and the Israeli military spring from a letter allegedly written by CEO Howard Schultz. Dated 11 July 2006, and titled “A Thank You to All Starbucks Customers,” Schultz apparently said that “with every cup you drink at Starbucks you are helping with a noble cause: ensuring the continued viability and prospering of the Jewish state.” …
However, the “Schultz letter” is a hoax. … The letter was written by Andrew Winkler, an Australian-based anti-Zionist media activist of German origin. It was published as a parody of Schultz on the anti-Zionist website ZioPedia on 11 July 2006. Winkler later wrote: “The Howard Schultz spoof letter has caused quite a bit of a stir. … Howard Schultz never wrote that letter; I did.”
Yet now it has become something like a modern, internet-shared version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: a hoax document supposedly written by a Jew which is cited by some people as evidence of Zionist wickedness.
So, as Howard Schultz deals with the Muslim world attempting a boycott because they see Queen Esther in his logo and the real-life violence against his shops, I suggest he close down the chain and sell it to an enterprising Arab who will put King Faisal in the logo and then there will be peace. Joking aside, the violence that ensued in the recent anti-Israel demonstrations in London was a serious manifestation of the way blogging and the ensuing hate-mongering can transform into destruction. Jewish entrepreneurs beware.