Boycott Watch
October 7, 2004
Breaking a myth: McDonald's does not support terrorists
   Summary: An email is circulating claiming that every time someone buys a meal from McDonalds, the profits are used to supports terrorists. Boycott Watch checked out the rumor and discovered it to be false.
    Most rumors we receive have some basis in truth, but conclusions are drawn that take the facts a step off the deep end. That is the exactly what happened with a false rumor claiming that by purchasing food from McDonalds, you are supporting terrorism. Boycott Watch contacted McDonalds Corporation for their side of the story and examined the issue in detail. The following is what we discovered.

   McDonalds is well known for their charities. Their restaurants generally have boxes where you can donate money to a charity, and usually a charity related to children who need medical assistance. We say usually only because we can not possibly visit every restaurant to verify if this applies to each and every location. As a company, McDonald's is known for building the Ronald McDonald Houses near hospitals, so people who have children being treated in hospitals that are not near their homes have a warm and comfortable place to stay. McDonald's restaurants also donate money from sales to support children's hospitals. These charitable activities are not only supported by the franchises in the US, but also by their franchises or 'partners' as they call them, world-wide. McDonalds can therefore easily be called a charitable company.

   The email in question (see below) has primarily circulated in Israel, but has recently been spread in the US. The email appears to claim that if you buy from McDonalds, and presumably in Israel, you will be supporting terrorist attacks against Israel. The email does not exclude the US, and it claims that the proof is found on the McDonalds web site. Boycott Watch contacted McDonalds and asked several rounds of questions to get to the truth, and then verified the information presented to us by McDonalds, comparing it to the information in the email, and we came to our own conclusion about the emails.

   As it turns out, there was a fundraising effort by McDonalds restaurants in Saudi Arabia in late 2000 benefiting the Disabled Children Association and the Nasser Children's Hospital in Gaza. McDonald's Saudi Arabia supported the hospital by "supplying medical equipment bought from the fundraising activity" according to McDonald's Corporation. Boycott Watch examined the McDonalds claim because we take nothing at face value. The following is the results of our research:

    * McDonalds Corporation is a US company that franchises restaurants globally, and there are exclusive operating agreements in some foreign countries.

    * McDonalds Saudi Arabia is in fact a franchise and licensee of the name, and is not owned by McDonalds Corporation.

    * McDonalds in Israel is also a franchise and licensee of the name, and is not owned by McDonalds Corporation.

    * McDonalds Israel and McDonalds Saudi Arabia are in no way connected as companies, other than independently and separately being franchises of the same parent company.

    * As a franchise, each country can decide what fundraising projects they want to work on.

    * Boycott Watch consulted with three reporters from different Israeli news organizations, two of which are known for being extremely critical of Yassir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, and none were able to produce any evidence of any wrong doing or terrorism involvement by the Nasser Children's Hospital in Gaza.

    * Internet research about the Nasser Children's Hospital in Gaza revealed no evidence of any involvement in any terrorism. In fact, the hospital appears to be exactly what it claims to be, a hospital for disabled children. We do not, however, have any detailed information about the hospitals operations. There is no way we can verify if money was sent to the hospital to purchase equipment, or if the equipment was purchased and shipped to Gaza as claimed.

    * We believe that major medical equipment for any hospital in Gaza is most probably imported, and it is therefore plausible that equipment was purchased, donated and then shipped to the hospital in Gaza. Boycott Watch has found no evidence to doubt the claim.

    * McDonalds in Israel was not part of the fundraising effort whatsoever. No dollars from any stores in Israel, therefore, went to this fundraising effort.

    * McDonalds in the US was not part of the fundraising effort whatsoever. No dollars from any stores in US, therefore, went to this fundraising effort.

    * McDonald's locations, worldwide, are engaged in efforts to raise money for children's hospitals, and the Saudi Arabia effort was consistent with that goal.

    * McDonald's locations in Israel also engaged in efforts to raise money for children's hospitals which is consistent with McDonald's Corporation efforts.

    * If a person in Saudi Arabia wanted to make a donation to a terrorist organization, they can do it in the open, and therefore do not need to hide it in a charity for a hospital. There is, therefore, no specific reason to mask donations through a hospital if that is what the email author concluded.

   The only truth in the email that is circulating is that money was raised at some McDonald's locations and was used to buy items that went to Gaza, but the truth stops there. The only money that was raised was by McDonalds Saudi Arabia and in Saudi Arabia.

   In conclusion, after extensive research and conversations with McDonalds Corporation representatives, Boycott Watch believes that the fundraising effort in question only took place in Saudi Arabia, and we have no evidence to conclude that this specific fund raising effort by McDonalds Saudi Arabia was for anything other than medical equipment for the Disabled Children's Association and the Nasser Children's Hospital in Gaza, to which we have found no direct links to terrorism or terrorist organizations. There is also no evidence that any other McDonald's locations have made donations to terrorist organizations.

   This is not to say that people involved with the hospital are or are not involved with, associates with, or support terrorist organizations. We do not have any information to that effect one way or another. So, if you are worried about profits from McDonalds food purchases may support terrorism, Boycott Watch suggests not buying food from McDonalds while in Saudi Arabia; or for that matter, not going to or buying anything from or in Saudi Arabia.

------ Start of original email -----


A few months ago a man told me that every time we buy a meal from McDonald's, one shekel is given by them to the Palestinians. I asked another student to check this information on the McDonald's website and he confirmed that it was true. Like me, he was horrified that the money we spend to give children a treat goes to Arafat and to fund his terrorist activities like building Kazzam rockets which are fired at towns in the south of Israel at least once a week. As much as he enjoys his Big Macs he has sworn not to buy even an ice-cream from them again. I have spoken to many other people who are also determined not to be unwitting sponsors of terror.
Have a peaceful week.
All the best

------ End of original email -----

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