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Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan said people protesting against the company over its stance on the Israel war have been “influenced by misrepresentation on social media” of what the coffee chain stands for.

In a letter issued to its employees earlier this week, Narasimhan noted many of Starbucks’ stores have experienced incidents of vandalism, and added the company has worked with local authorities to ensure the safety of its workers and customers.

The coffee chain is among several Western brands that have come under pressure from consumers calling for companies to take a stance in the Israeli aggression against Gaza, with some even facing boycott campaigns in some Arab countries.

Starbucks has also come under fire for trying to distance itself from pro-Palestine positions taken by Starbucks Workers United, a union for Starbucks workers, that have angered some pro-Israel supporters.

Shortly after the October 7 attacks, the union, Starbucks Workers United, posted “Solidarity with Palestine” on social media platform X.

Seattle-based Starbucks sued the Workers United union in October, which represents thousands of baristas at about 360 US stores, saying that it “reflected” the union’s “support for violence perpetrated by Hamas”.

More than 350 of the company’s roughly 9,300 corporate-owned stores in the United States are unionised.

Starbucks at the time had said, “We unequivocally condemn these acts of terrorism, hate and violence, and disagree with the statements and views expressed by Workers United and its members,” in a post.

“Workers United’s words and actions belong to them, and them alone,” the company added.

The union filed a counter lawsuit in October, claiming Starbucks falsely attacked the union’s reputation.

“The company’s statements are a transparent effort to bolster its illegal anti-union campaign by falsely attacking the union’s reputation with workers and the public,” the suit alleged.

These developments come as Israeli aggression in Gaza has killed over 20,000 people, injured over 50,000 and laid waste to much of the coastal enclave in response to the attacks on October 7.

Zara regrets ‘misunderstanding’, removes controversial posts

This has deeply divided companies and industries as individuals and groups share their opinions on the war.

Earlier, Spanish high-street retailer Zara came under fire for a series of images that depicted “devastation in Gaza”.

They later removed the controversial posts, citing it as a “misunderstanding”.

Hollywood celebrities have also come under fire for speaking up for Palestinians, while others called for a cessation of hostilities on both ends.

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