Fast-food giant seeks $1.31 million in damages from boycott campaign over alleged defamation and loss of business
McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, is taking legal action against a pro-Palestinian group in Malaysia, accusing it of spreading false and damaging allegations about its business ties with Israel.
The lawsuit, filed by Gerbang Alaf Restaurants Sdn Bhd, the franchise owner of McDonald’s outlets in Malaysia, seeks $1.31 million, or 6 million Malaysian ringgits, in damages from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Malaysia, Reuters reported.
The BDS movement is a global campaign that aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation and oppression of Palestinians, by boycotting Israeli products, companies, and institutions. The movement has gained momentum in recent years, especially in the wake of the latest war in Gaza, which killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
According to the lawsuit, the BDS movement in Malaysia has been targeting McDonald’s since 2014, by making “false and defamatory statements” on social media and other platforms, alleging that the fast-food chain supports Israel and funds its military.
The lawsuit claims that these statements have caused “irreparable damage” to McDonald’s reputation and goodwill, and have resulted in a loss of customers and revenue. The lawsuit also alleges that the BDS movement has incited hatred and violence against McDonald’s staff and outlets, and has interfered with its contractual relations with its suppliers and partners.
BDS’ False Claims
The lawsuit cites several examples of the BDS movement’s alleged defamation, such as:
– A Facebook post in 2014 that claimed that McDonald’s was “the biggest sponsor of Israel” and urged people to “boycott McDonald’s and save Palestine”.
– A Twitter post in 2018 that claimed that McDonald’s was “funding Israel to kill more innocent Palestinians” and urged people to “stop eating at McDonald’s”.
– A YouTube video in 2020 that claimed that McDonald’s was “part of the Zionist agenda” and urged people to “boycott McDonald’s and support Palestine”.
– A flyer in 2021 that claimed that McDonald’s was “complicit in Israel’s war crimes” and urged people to “boycott McDonald’s and stand with Gaza”.
The lawsuit also names several individuals as defendants, who are allegedly involved in the BDS movement and have made similar statements against McDonald’s.
McDonald’s has denied any links or support to Israel, and has stated that it operates independently from its parent company in the United States. The company has also stated that it respects the rights and views of its customers and the communities where it operates, and that it does not take any political or religious stance.
The BDS movement in Malaysia has not yet responded to the lawsuit, but has previously defended its campaign as a legitimate and peaceful form of protest against Israel’s violations of human rights and international law.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal battles between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups around the world, as the conflict in the Middle East continues to polarize public opinion and spark controversy.