Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan claimed there’s a “misrepresentation on social media of what we stand for” in an open letter on Tuesday that addressed acts of vandalism and other controversies the coffee chain has faced since the start of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
In the letter shared on the Starbucks blog, Narasimhan, who took on his role as CEO in March, did not directly reference the war. Instead, he talked about “conflicts” in the world that have “unleashed violence against the innocent, hate and weaponized speech, and lies — all of which we condemn.”
There have been efforts to boycott the Seattle-based coffee chain after it sued Workers United, the union organizing its employees, because the latter posted anti-Israel messages on social media following the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre in Israel while using logos similar to those trademakred by Starbucks. The coffee giant alleged trademark infringement, demanding that the union stop using its name and logo because the company had no official stance on the Gaza war and the social media posts prompted complaints and harmed its brand.
Share prices for the world’s largest coffee company have reportedly dropped by about 9 percent since mid-November — a decline of some $11 billion in its market cap — and there have been several instances of vandalism at Starbucks locations in the US since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Misinformation on social media has also negatively affected the company’s business, such as posts on X/Twitter that falsely accuse Starbucks of directly funding “genocide” in the Gaza Strip. Starbucks has no stores in Gaza, and all its locations in Israel closed in 2003.
“Many of our stores have experienced incidents of vandalism,” Narasimhan wrote in the open letter. “We see protesters influenced by misrepresentation on social media of what we stand for. We have worked with local authorities to ensure our partners and customers are safe. Nothing is more important.”
He added: “Our stance is clear. We stand for humanity.”
At a Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, pro-Palestinian protesters who stormed the store smashed windows, wrote “Enter if you support genocide” in chalk on the floor, and spray-painted on the walls “free Gaza” and “free Palestine.” Last week, a Starbucks location in New York was spray-painted with pro-Palestinian graffiti, and at another store eight blocks away, a customer harassed employees and alleged that the company was anti-Israel.
“It is during times of conflict and pain when it is most important to come together,” Narasimhan further said in his letter. “I am realistic that it will take time. But I know it will happen.”
“In my daily meditation, I pray for peace — immediately,” he concluded.
Israeli Diplomat Detained in Russia, Embassy Apologizes
The head of an Israeli government agency that assists Jews in the Diaspora to make Aliyah was briefly detained in Russia last week, it was reported on Tuesday.
Alon Shoham, the CEO of Nativ, a directorate within the Prime Minister’s Office which helps Jews from former Soviet Union countries move to Israel, was in Russia for a number of meetings when he was stopped by authorities at the airport on his way out. According to media reports, after the diplomat handed airport security his passport for inspection, they noticed stamps from his frequent visits to Ukraine, which prompted the brief detention.
After explaining that the visits were part of his official capacity as head of Nativ, Shoham was released only to be detained once again minutes before his flight was set to take off. Ultimately, Shoham was let go and returned to home to Israel later that day.
As a result of the incident, the Russian Embassy in Israel issued a formal apology to the government due to the questioning. It is not known exactly the reason why Shoham was questioned so extensively, particularly since Shoham travels with a diplomatic passport and has previously served as the Israeli ambassador to Belarus. As per Israel’s Channel 12, government officials believe the move was intended to “send a message.”
The brief detainment of the Israeli diplomat comes as a meeting between the different Palestinian groups, including the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, is scheduled for February 26 in Moscow, following an invitation by Russia.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told the Munich Security Conference this past weekend “Russia has invited all Palestinian factions who will be meeting on the 26 of this month in Moscow. We will see if Hamas is ready to come to the ground with us.” In response to a question about working with the terror group, “We are ready to engage. If Hamas is not, then that’s a different story. We need Palestinian unity.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has not been particularly friendly to Israel since war broke out on October 7, after Hamas terrorists raided southern Israel, killing over 1,200 and taking hostage more than 240. Putin has spoken with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, telling him in December “Russia will continue to supply the Gaza Strip with essential goods, including medicines and medical equipment.” Putin called the situation in Gaza a “catastrophe” in previous comments.
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Israel Railways Chief Says Attacks Thwarted on Train System
The chairman of Israel’s train system told a conference on Tuesday that unknown foreign actors have repeatedly tried to hack the country’s rail system.
“There were attempts of a cyber attack on the trains, though we were not harmed,” said Moshe Shimoni, the chairman of Israel Railways at Yediot Ahronot’s National Resurgence and Resilience Conference. “We held a cyber week where we prepared for such a scenario, we raised awareness as much as possible, and we are fully protected.”
Shimoni’s announcement comes days after an El Al flight was targeted by hackers during a trip from Thailand to Tel Aviv. El Al said “hostile elements” had tried to divert the plane from its intended destination.
Shimoni further detailed how in the aftermath of the October 7 massacre, when Hamas terrorists broke into southern Israel amid thousands of rockets, slaughtering over 1,200 Israeli and taking hostage more 240, train service continued to function despite the weekly closure for Shabbat.
“The stations were closed, because it was on Saturday, and they quickly turned into soldier pick-up stations. At about 5:00 p.m., we received permission to operate trains to transport soldiers from north to south, and vice versa.”
According to Shimoni, over 1,000 rail workers were called for reserve service, causing initial delays for regular train transport. Operation have returned to normal though, he said, with all stations operating except for one in Sderot, which was attacked by Hamas.
“We currently carry 220,000 passengers per day. This just shows how important the trains are,” he added. At the conference, Shimoni detailed the plans for expansion of the train, of which new stations in the center will be opened in the next two years to provide closer service for residents in places such as Petah Tikva and Bnei Brad.
Seven railway workers were murdered by Hamas, according to Shimoni. In their memory, seven citrus trees have been planted in one of the railway’s main compounds.
“We will find the way to commemorate together with the families,” he said. “The families know this, we will accompany them as much as possible.”
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Champion cyclist and IDF veteran Leah Goldstein is ‘angry and heartbroken’ after a women’s festival cancels her keynote motivational speech
A championship bicycle racer and motivational speaker says she is “angry and heartbroken” after her appearance at an International Women’s Day festival was cancelled because of her service three decades ago in the Israel Defense Forces. Leah Goldstein, of Vernon B.C., was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the INSPIRE Women’s Day event in […]