June 28, 2001
Hate Israel, Love McFalafel
It wasn't the idea of a McFalafel that sparked the ire of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), but a McDonald's ad campaign in Egypt for the new falafel patty.
The commercial featured an innocuous jingle with the lyrics "If you eat a bite, you can't stop before finishing the whole roll." But the singer was Shaaban Abdel-Rahim, who has recently become a major star in Egypt with his first chart-topping single, "I Hate Israel."
Roughly translated from the Arabic, the song goes like this: "I hate Israel/ I'll say it if asked/ Even if I die or if I'm imprisoned/ I hate Israel."
"Certainly, McDonald's can find a way to sell falafel without enlisting a hate-monger as a spokesman," said Shulamit Bahat, AJC's acting executive director.
McDonald's pulled the campaign immediately after AJC expressed their concerns. "It's not in our nature to offend anyone," a McDonald's spokesman noted, blaming the ad on a "local marketing initiative by McDonald's Egypt that was obviously not researched."