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Starbucks stores in San Francisco are not closing due to Pro-Palestine boycott

The closure of seven branches in San Francisco was announced before 7 October Hamas attacks

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Claim: Starbucks will be closing seven locations in Downtown San Francisco, California following a boycott of the coffee giant for being pro-Israel.

Fact: The closure of seven  branches of Starbucks in San Francisco was announced before Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October. The stores are not closing down due to the boycott against “Zionist” companies.

What’s happening in Gaza?

On 7 October 2023, the military wing of Hamas, the Al Qassam Brigades, launched a “surprise attack” on Israel via sea, land, and air. In response, the Israeli government formally declared war on Hamas on 8 October 2023. 

At least 1,400 fatalities have been reported in Israel and 230 people are held captive in Gaza as per Israeli authorities. According to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 15,000 people have been killed in Gaza as of 23 November. 

On 27 October 2023 Israel intensified Gaza’s bombing as it launched a second phase with ground operations, after imposing a communications blackout in the Palestinian territory.

Fact or Fiction?

On 4 November 2023, X (formerly Twitter) user @Abierkhatib posted an ABC7 News clip which reported that Starbucks will be closing seven locations in Downtown San Francisco, California. The caption of the tweet claimed that the decision to close came after people announced a boycott of the coffee giant and other businesses perceived to be “Zionist”.

Soch Fact Check found that this claim is misleading. A Google Search of relevant  keywords yielded multiple news reports on Starbucks closing seven stores in San Francisco, by NewYork Post, CBS News, CNN, ABC7 News and USA Today, published on 3 and 4 October 2023

According to the reports, the company said that the stores’ closure is part of a larger evaluation of their store portfolio.

Moreover, an email sent to district managers by the company did not specify reasons for the closures, noting that, “We remain dedicated to investing in the city in meaningful and important ways that meet our partners and customers where they are.”

Starbucks locations to close in San Francisco, effective 22 October, include Mission and Main Streets, Geary and Taylor Streets, 425 Battery Street, 398 Market Street, 4th and Market Streets, 555 California Street, and Bush Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Hence, Soch Fact Check concludes that the closure of the aforementioned branches is not a result of the boycott by pro-Palestine supporters as the announcement predates the Israel-Hamas war of 7 October. The company also did not officially specify any such reasons for its decision.

In light of the war in Gaza,  Starbucks “unequivocally” condemned “acts of terrorism, hate and violence”, as per a statement on its website.

The company also sued its union, Starbucks Workers United, following a deleted post on X which reflected the union’s “support for violence perpetrated by Hamas”. This led to confusion as some people mistook the union’s stance as representative of Starbucks’ own views, prompting calls for a boycott against the coffee giant.

Virality:

The tweet by @Abierkhatib received significant traction with nine million views, 26,000 likes and 15,000 reposts. The claim was shared here, here, here, here and here on X.

On Facebook, the claim was found here, here, here, here, here and here.

Conclusion: The closure of seven branches of Starbucks  in San Francisco is being misleadingly linked to the boycott of “Zionist” companies due to the ongoing war in Gaza. The company announced the stores’ closure before 7 October,  adding that it is a part of a larger evaluation of their store portfolio.

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