McDonald’s opened its first Israeli branch in October 1993. The location they chose seems trivial, but it was wise: the Ayalon Mall. Shopping malls made a late entrance in Israel. Only after the second one became a success,1 they became the favored location for shops, mainly due to their air-conditioners.
In 1993, the Ayalon Mall was still the most exclusive mall in the country, thus McDonald’s gained a top niche in the junk-food business.
Americans entering McDonald’s Israel would experience three surprises. The first is trivial. Outside the USA McDonalds attempts to behave properly. The establishments are ultra-clean. While visiting the USA, I was curious to see a local branch; so shocked that I never entered again.
The second is the super hamburgers served in Israeli branches; apparently the largest in the world. This is the result of the corporation’s need to compete against Burger Ranch, a local chain. Hence, McDonald’s in Israel is expensive, much more than in the USA.
The third surprise is that McDonald’s is kosher, despite the chain refusing to renounce its cheeseburgers. This was achieved by not advertising the problematic item in the menu. Instead, while ordering, the client is asked: “Do you want it with cheese?”
Even God has problems understanding rabbinical logic.
Yet, it was a winning recipe. With over 170 branches, McDonald’s is the largest restaurants chain in the country. It has entered history with a failed attempt to create an imperial variant of a popular Middle-Eastern food: the McFalafel.
Rabbi Clark Kent, the American Super-Settler, ruins the meal!McDonald’s Israel functions as a private company owned by Omri Padan. He was also among the founders of Peace Now, which probably was one of the reasons why McDonald’s chose him for its Zionist business. Years later, this trivial fact led to a declaration of war of the State of Israel against McDonald’s.
Giant burgers, McFalafel, premium coffee, donations to IDF foundations and children hospitals; McDonald’s Israel did everything to be accepted by Israelis. Almost everything.
In June 2013, businessman Rami Levy announced that together with Mega-Or he would open a shopping mall in Ariel. Omri Padan refused to open a McDonald’s branch there and started WWIII.
Unlike most Israeli cities and councils, Ariel’s territory isn’t continuous but includes three different areas separated by grounds owned by Palestinians. Overall, the town’s territory is about five kilometers long and 700 meters wide. The town is surrounded by a fence, meaning Palestinians do not have access to their territories within the municipality. This was done on purpose so that Israel confiscated less territory than it occupied later. In 1989, it was awarded the status of city. In January 2010, Netanyahu declared it Capital of Samaria (a title technically empty of meaning). On December of the same year, thirty-five MKs petitioned the Israeli government to annex Ariel. In 2013, the town has about twenty thousand denizens.
Ariel is the most strategic settlement that Israel has founded. It aims to dissect the West Bank while creating a second corridor (together with Highway 60) between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The close-up map above shows the reality as seen by travelers to the town arriving from Tel Aviv along Route #5. In a parcel to parcel job, the early Likud governments ethnically cleansed the road to Ariel. One can travel from Tel Aviv to Ariel without seeing any Palestinian towns.
Considering that Ariel is an illegal settlement,2 McDonald’s position can be understood.
McDonald’s position can be understood by every person except most Israelis. Following McDonald’s refusal to open a branch in the West Bank, Israel declared war on its favorite junk food chain.
One of the first condemnations came from Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council: “I am sorry that organizations which do not know Judea and Samaria chose to boycott 700,000 denizens who are 10% of Israel’s population.” He continued with a personal attack on Mr. Padan. “Judea and Samaria” is the Israeli code name for the West Bank. Apparently the current number of settlers is closer to 500,000. Finally, if he counts settlers as Israelis, then he must count also their Palestinian neighbors. His math is wrong and racist.
Knesset Member Eli Yishai, from ultra-orthodox Shas party, declared that he will order the first hamburger produced by Burger Ranch Ariel and deliver it to the office of Mr. Padan.
In the first military operation of this war, settlers attacked dozens of McDonald’s branches across the countries, sticking on them mock kosher certificates stating “kosher but stinky.”
Hertzeliya Pituach is a rich area north of Tel Aviv. It hosts hi-tech companies and an exclusive neighborhood. As seen in the picture above, they have declared a boycott on the McDonald’s branch in their neighborhood.
Hebrew social networks are flooded with calls to boycott McDonald’s. Many of them claimed it was an anti-Semitic decision reminiscent of times when Jews were banned from shops due to their religion. Again, like with the kosher issues related with cheeseburgers,3 this claim is irrational and detached from reality.
“McDonald’s are the real losers,” said Eliyahu Shviro, Ariel’s mayor.
Knesset Member Miriam Regev—who was the IDF Spokesperson before joining the Likud party—said: “McDonald’s owner is a loser and a Lefty.”
Dan Margalit, a leading journalist, announced that he will boycott the chain.
Knesset Member Shula Mu’alem-Rafaeli, from The Jewish Home, instructed Bnei Akiva, the largest Religious-Zionist Youth Movement to boycott McDonald’s.
Hana Golan, candidate to be Ariel’s mayor, quoted Meir Ariel’s song from 1990: “We Survived Pharaoh, We Will Survive Also This.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu is said to be preparing a proper Zionist answer to the event.
Less than a week after the War was declared, Israel has deployed all its Weapons of Burger Destruction. McDonald’s, beware!
- The monstrous Dizengoff Center was built from 1972 at the center of Tel Aviv destroying an historical part of the White City. Thus, shopping malls got a bad image in Israel until the second mall was opened in neighbor city Ramat Gan. Kenyon Ayalon (roughly “Shopping-Parking Ayalon”), known in English as Ayalon Mall, was inaugurated in 1985 next to Israel’s largest stadium. Its unobtrusive low structure (later on ruined), with properly spaced shops, air conditioned and soft illumination transformed it into an immediate hit. [↩]
- The United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and most countries (Israel being the obvious exception) agree that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank. This Convention prevents an occupying power from transferring its own population into occupied territory. Thus, settlements and outposts are both illegal under international law; under Israeli law, settlements are legal and outposts are illegal. Yet, the Israeli government supports both, violating its own laws. [↩]
- Three times in the Pentateuch it is said “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, Deuteronomy 14:21). Oddly, rabbinical Judaism interprets this as a complete ban on mixing milk products with meat. Thus the halavi (milky) and basari (meaty) designations of kosher food. Food that is neither one, is designated parve. The terms are used also to judge issues; something halavi is weak; something parve is irrelevant. [↩]