Advertisement Close

How the Israel-Palestine War is Affecting Businesses 

posted on: Dec 20, 2023

How the Israel-Palestine War is Affecting Businesses 
Damage in Gaza Strip during the October 2023

By: Menal Elmaliki / Arab America Contributing Writer

The Israel and Hamas war is the war that has broke the internet, with some calling it genocide with the deaths of almost 20,000 civilians, wounding almost 50,000, the destruction of infrastructure, homes, and hospitals, the disruption and blockade of humanitarian efforts and supplies, and water and electricity being cut, has fueled sentiments of fear, anger confusion and frustration all across social media and real life.

Social Media Applying Pressure on Large Corporations

The reality of this war has made us realize the power and impact of social media. It has sensationalized this conflict, making it about politics, history, and morality. Social media is powerful enough to promote violence, spread false information, shape public opinion, place public pressure on figures and corporations that are neutral, and boycott a company as big as Starbucks. 

Big corporations have felt the brunt of online scrutiny, public pressure, and activism, feeling forced to pick a side, between speaking out or staying silent. Many conflicted between what they should do morally and what to do regarding business and strategy.

How the Israel-Palestine War is Affecting Businesses 

Those caught in the crossfire like Starbucks, boycotted and scrutinized for their condemnation of their Union’s support for Palestine. A cease and desist letter was sent to the members of Starbucks Workers United, it was also added that workers Workers United, its local affiliates, union organizers and those who identify as members of ‘Starbucks Workers United’ do not represent the company’s views, positions and beliefs. The war has had an effect on individuals, communities, and society, from big corporations to small businesses, all facing strong support or condemnation from the public. 

Small Businesses Facing Verbal Harassment

Small businesses have taken the heat as they are faced with harassment in all forms. Restaurants like this Hummus and Co recently made news coverage when a woman threw soup inside a restaurant that hung an Israeli and US flag and shouted “You are all Murderers!”

How the Israel-Palestine War is Affecting Businesses 
The interior of Ayat (Hell Gate)

Others have dealt with online harassment like Ayat in Brooklyn. The restaurant, Palestinian owned, doesn’t shy away from proudly displaying their identity, from their painted murals on their wall to their street style and traditional dishes of hummus, mansaf and mashi, but with that comes unwarranted attention and hate. They opened their doors in 2020, during Covid 19, and they became the only Palestinian restaurant to not only introduce Palestinian culture  but to challenge the status quo and change the attitudes towards the Middle East.  According to the New York Times, Ayat is ranked one of the 100 best restaurants in New York City and this is one of the few restaurants that serve Palestinian food you’ll only find in cookbooks. 

In the months-long Israel- Hamas war the restaurant had to deal with a flood of negative reviews in the 100s. The owner has emphasized the importance of online profiles and how they can make or break a business. They noted that the bad reviews were coming from Israel. 

Small Business Owners’ Outlook

The owners complaining, “We got a flood of one-star reviews from people who we know  for sure never visited this restaurant, and it was all back-to-back.” Despite the setback, they remain positive stating that the online reviews won’t deter their business success and they’ve gotten google to remove 110 negative fake reviews. This was not the first time the restaurant had to deal with orchestrated online hate, in 2021, the restaurant took to instagram to complain of online e harassment. The owner Abdul Elena received a phone call of a complaint that a customer was refused service for being Israeli and before he knew it his google reviews were flooded with one star reviews and anti- Palestinian sentiments.

The owners believe that despite these problems understanding is necessary, “I think if people just took the time to understand what’s happening around them, understand all the different cultures and religions that live within us over here, we’re going to live a lot better because we understand each other.”

Check out Arab America’s blog here!