Turkish broadcaster TGRT Haber accused its news announcer of “covertly advertising” Starbucks on air
Turkish broadcaster TGRT Haber TV has sacked an anchor for appearing on air with a cup from Starbucks, the world-famous coffee chain that many in the country now see as pro-Israel. In recent months, Türkiye has seen numerous pro-Palestinian protests due to the bloody conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas militants.
In a statement on Sunday, the channel strongly condemned the actions of news anchor Meltem Gunay and an unnamed director, terminating their contracts for “just cause.” It explained that “it is strictly forbidden for the announcer to present on TGRT News TV in a way that will covertly advertise any company.”
It further added that “our institution… knows the sensitivities of the Turkish people regarding Gaza and defends them to the end.”
The perception that Starbucks is pro-Israel stems from a legal battle between the chain and a union organizing its workers. Shortly after the start of the Hamas-Israel conflict, the latter, officially called Starbucks Workers United, wrote “Solidarity with Palestine!” on X (formerly Twitter).
In response, Starbucks sued the organization for trademark infringement while also claiming that the post angered customers and damaged its reputation. Workers United filed a countersuit, alleging that Starbucks defamed the union by implying that it supports terrorism and violence.
The coffee chain has denied being either pro-Palestine or pro-Israel, stating it opposes violence and “stand[s] for humanity.”
While the legal stand-off has led many across the world to boycott Starbucks, it has faced a particularly strong backlash in Türkiye, where the national railway company TCDD accused the chain of “mobbing” its pro-Palestinian workers in the US. TCDD subsequently declared a boycott of Starbucks products, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party organized sit-in protests at its locations.
Since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel in early October, Türkiye, a Muslim-majority country, has seen several waves of protests targeting Israeli consulates and a Turkish airbase used by the US, a long-time ally of Israel.
Erdogan himself has been highly critical of Israel’s military actions, dubbing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the “Butcher of Gaza” and accusing West Jerusalem of war crimes in the Palestinian enclave.
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