Since Hamas’ attack on Israel, many companies have been struggling to take a stand. Positioning yourself in the Middle East conflict seems like running the gauntlet. Too quickly you make yourself vulnerable, too quickly you attract hatred – regardless of whether you are on one side or the other. It is even more complicated for corporations that operate internationally and are not centrally controlled. The fast food giant McDonald’s is also feeling this at the moment.

One might think that the company positioned itself early on. Hardly any other company in the world stands so much for the values ​​of the USA and the West. It was also fitting that the fast food chain in Israel announced immediately after the start of the Hamas attack that it wanted to provide free meals for Israeli soldiers, hospitals and other social institutions. To this day, nurses, security guards and doctors can eat for free at McDonald’s in Israel or receive strong discounts.

Much to the displeasure of some Palestine supporters. In recent weeks, important Egyptian influencers have called for a boycott of the fast food chain.

At the same time, millions in aid are flowing from McDonald’s representatives to Gaza to support the Palestinians, how does that fit together?

The reason for the supposed double game is the structure of McDonald’s. Because there is no such thing as McDonald’s. Although the “golden M” can be found in almost every country in the world through a franchise system, the restaurants are run by local restaurateurs and work autonomously under the management of a national umbrella organization. This means that they are only partially subordinate to the actual US chain.

The Israeli representation of McDonald’s, for example, is managed by Israeli businessman Omri Padan. He is President of Alonyal Limited, a group of companies responsible for all branches in Israel. It was also Padan who decided early on to provide the Israeli security forces with free food.

The world looks different in the Middle East. In countries such as Egypt, Lebanon or Tunisia, the national branches are bundled into an umbrella organization, which in turn works independently of the headquarters in the USA – and can therefore also adopt its own positions.

Some McDonald’s country representatives in the Middle East distanced themselves from the actions of their Israeli colleagues. “What the licensee did in Israel was an individual and private act and not with the consent or at the direction of the international company or any other licensee, especially in our Arab world,” said the Al Maousherji Catering Company, which works for the McDonald’s Branches in Kuwait are responsible, in a statement. The umbrella organization in Pakistan also made a similar statement.

According to media reports, the country missions of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain sent money to Gaza. The Omani representation said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter) that it would help “our brothers and sisters in Gaza.”

But the independence of the national representations and their positioning do not seem to appeal to all critics. Last week, the Lebanese news portal “961” reported that pro-Palestinian groups had attacked a local branch in the city of Sidon. McDonald’s Lebanon said there was no major damage or injuries.

The question of a boycott also divides supporters of Palestine. In his broadcast, Egyptian talk show host Amr Adib called for people not to avoid the chain in the country for political reasons, as it belongs to the Egyptian billionaire Yaseen Mansour and offers jobs to countless Egyptians: “What’s the point of closing McDonald’s ? What’s the point of harming this man and endangering people’s livelihoods?” According to its own information, the Egyptian franchisee offers jobs directly or indirectly to more than 40,000 Egyptians.

McDonald’s headquarters in the USA avoids any positioning. When contacted by The Washington Post, McDonald’s Corporation only said on Saturday that “the safety of employees and teams on site is the top priority.”

Sources: Washington Post, 961, Business Insider,