McDonald’s has acknowledged a significant business impact from a boycott in the Middle East and other regions, where customers perceive the company’s support for Israel. 

CEO Chris Kempczinski addressed the issue on LinkedIn, attributing the backlash to misinformation and emphasizing the brand’s representation by local owner-operators in every country. With over 40,000 global stores, McDonald’s relies on independent businesses to operate most locations. About 5% of these stores are in the Middle East. Amid the Israel-Gaza conflict, McDonald’s faced scrutiny when its Israel branch provided free meals to the Israeli military, prompting calls for boycotts in Muslim-majority countries. 

The pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) later officially called for a McDonald’s boycott. McDonald’s Malaysia’s lawsuit against BDS, seeking $1.3 million for alleged false statements, heightened tensions. BDS urged McDonald’s to sever ties with its Israel and Malaysia franchisees, threatening further action unless the lawsuit was dropped. McDonald’s, avoiding comment on the lawsuit, reiterated its stance against violence and hate speech in CEO Kempczinski’s post, pledging to keep its doors open to everyone.