Pizza Hut has come under fire after the restaurant chain was caught posting an online advertisement mocking the Palestinian hunger strike.
The pizza chain faces a mass boycott after a distasteful ad on Facebook taunted Marwan Barghouti – the Palestinian leader heading a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons – with a Pizza Hut pizza in an attempt to lure him away from the strike.
Using a screengrab from footage released by the Israeli prison service on Sunday, Pizza Hut captioned a picture of Barghouti with the following text: “Barghouti, if you break the hunger strike, why not pizza?”
Middleeasteye.net reports: Barghouti is currently leading around 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in an open-ended hunger strike, in protest against arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, medical neglect, and the reduction of family visits.The hunger strike started on 17 April.
In the Facebook post a pizza box has been photoshopped into the photo, lying on the floor by the bunk bed.
The post sparked widespread criticism, with many calling for the boycott of the food chain.
Using the hashtag #Boycott_PizzaHut, one Twitter user said Pizza Hut was “demeaning people who are fighting for their own survival”.
Another slammed Pizza Hut for attempting to profit from the situation, saying “you can not make jokes about hunger strike!!”
Yes I support #boycott_pizzahut , you can not make jokes about hunger strike!! It's not funny!!
— Lamia Abdulrhman (@Lma_30) May 9, 2017
— Clyde Carbon (@clyde_carbon) May 8, 2017
— Days of Palestine (@DaysofPalestine) May 9, 2017
Some had a more creative response and redesigned the company’s logo to reflect their anger, including use of prison bars, barbed wire and a guard tower (see main picture). Others went with a more food-related theme…
— Razan Halabi (@Razan_Halabi) May 9, 2017
The post has since been removed from the Israeli Pizza Hut Facebook Page. Middle East Eye put the allegations to Pizza Hut but had not heard back by the time of publication.
Solidarity and Taunting
On Monday, representatives of the Palestinian hunger strike dismissed the prison service claims that the film showed Barghouti eating in his cell as “false rumours” and an Israeli attempt at “psychological warfare.”
The National Committee for the Freedom and Dignity Strike said the footage dated back to 2004, and that its release was a deliberate attempt to confuse the campaign by about 1,500 prisoners.
The hunger strike has previously come under attack from a group of Israeli hardliners.
One week after the strike began, the group stood outside the prison and held a barbecue. A number of Israeli soldiers joined them to eat.
“At this moment [the hunger strikers] will smell the food’s scent and maybe later in the evening they will see it on television,” event organiser Ofer Sofer told AFP in front of two barbecue pits.
These Israelis held a BBQ outside a prison where Palestinians are on a mass hunger strike
Posted by Middle East Eye on Friday, April 21, 2017
Meanwhile supporters of the strike have shown their solidarity through various means.
Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna said that he would show solidarity by abstaining from food.
— OccPal-Gaza (@OccPalGaza) May 8, 2017
Other supporters and campaigners are taking part in the “Salt Water Challenge” to show their backing for the hunger strikers.
The idea was started by Aarab Marwan Barghouti, the son of the strike’s imprisoned leader.
The hunger strikers are reportedly drinking salt water to maintain their health while refraining from food.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) May 5, 2017
SUPER is in solidarity with our fellow Palestinians in Apartheid Israeli prisons. #PalHunger #اضراب_الكرامة #مى_و_ملح
Posted by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) on Sunday, April 30, 2017