I’m not a big fan of burgers. But the next burger I will have will be a Big Mac.
McDonald’s Israel recently confirmed it will not be opening a branch in Ariel, one of the biggest settlements in the West Bank. The company’s policy is not to do business beyond the “Green Line”, that is in areas occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. This is not surprising, as the CEO of McDonald’s Israel, Omri Padan, is one of the founders of “Peace Now” (a leading left-wing peace movement).
Needless to say, this brought about an epileptic fit in some people. Naftali Bennett said he would eat the first burger in Ariel when a local competitor, Burger Ranch, opens its branch there. Settlers from the West Bank hang up signs on McDonald’s branches calling for a boycott. And a member of Bennett’s party, Shuli Mualem, called upon the religious youth movement Bene Akiva to “instruct” its children members not to frequent McDonald’s establishments during the summer vacation. No less.
This is not the first row over Ariel. A couple of years ago, actors from the Cameri theater announced they will not be performing in the newly constructed theater in Ariel. This also prompted epileptic fits of rage, including a spectacular one from Culture Minister (what an oxymoron!) Limor Livnat, who practically foamed at the mouth when she denounced these actors.
Paradoxically, Ariel is not in any practical way in dispute. It is one of those settlements that under any future agreement will remain within Israeli control and will likely be annexed to Israel. This is why many don’t understand why anyone would boycott Ariel of all places. I see it differently. As long as the settlements continue to exist, as long as Israel’s policy is to continue building in the West Bank, as long as the post-Zionist settlers have their way – any boycott of anything to do with the settlements is more than welcome. The more pressure on the settlement movement, the better.
That’s why my next burger will be a Big Mac.