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Pepsi’s Photo Opportunity in Gaza

If you’ve ever hung around pro-Palestinian websites and discussion groups, you’re bound to have come across the false but popular canard that PEPSI stands for Pay Every Penny to Support Israel. Here’s Hamas MP Salem Salamah saying just that.

Well, I would expect that this photo opportunity will go some way towards improving their image among that particular opportunity.

The full story, from the Elder of Ziyon, appears to be that Yazegi, the official Pepsi bottling company in Gaza, is the sponsor. Its Facebook page carries a fair number of photos of Ismail Haniyeh on it. I would imagine that this one, showing the Pepsi logo on a cheque for “One Thousand Dollars” being held by Mr Haniyeh, will send out a rather unfortunate message.

Yazegi is reported to have been campaigning to persuade Hamas to bar the import of Israeli drinks into the Gaza Strip. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

Pepsi appears to be very embarrassed by these photos, and is engaged in a damage limitation exercise. As things stand, however, they’ve little to be ashamed of.  However, given the regional links between football and jihadism, it would be particularly galling if one of these footballers later turned out to be moonlighting as a Hamas fighter.

Ironically, Pepsi operated a de facto boycott of Israel until 1992. Coke, by contrast, had sold its product in Israel from 1966. The Chicago Tribune explains Pepsi’s original position:

Many Israelis and some American Jewish organizations attributed Pepsi`s previous reluctance to do battle to the Arab boycott. Pepsi, which has a large and lucrative business in the Arab world, denies that. It says economic rather than political reasons kept it out of Israel.

Since 1946, two years before Israeli statehood, the Arab League has maintained a blacklist of foreign companies that do business with Israel. Companies on the list are denied entry to Arab markets.

U.S. law prohibits American companies from participating in the boycott, but the law is vague and outright violations are hard to pin down.

In any case, interesting to see how this develops.

PS: I wonder if this football club was among those protesting the invitation to Gilad Shalit by Barcelona F.C..

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