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52512 , 10 ' ",

Beit Hakeren, 10 Hata'as St. Ramat Gan


52512, Israel
www.israellawcenter.org
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________

Tel: 972-3-7514175 :
Fax: 972-3-7514174 :
Tel (US): 212-591-0073

June 15, 2015


Mr. Muhtar Kent
Chairman of the Board and CEO
The Coca-Cola Company
1 Coca-Cola Plz NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Dear Mr. Kent:
I am an Israeli attorney and principal of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, a civilrights organization that represents American victims of terror in civil litigation in the United
States courts.1 My colleague, Robert J. Tolchin, is American counsel to our organization. In
addition, we have both been involved in efforts to counter racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel
campaigns designed to delegitimize Israel, including the second Gaza Flotilla.
Our organization is opposed to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)
movement, which is inherently racist, anti-Semitic, biased and prejudicial and has an
extremist agenda that unfairly singles out Israel and Jews. The BDS movements goal is
solely the destruction of the State of Israel and its Jewish community. It masquerades as a
human rights movement, but it is singularly fixated on Israel and Jews and ignores egregious
human rights abuses that do not feed its anti-Israel agenda. Thus, it ignores Hamas terrorists
who shoot rockets into Israeli civilian population centers with the expressed intention of
killing civilians; it ignores ISIS thugs in Syria and Iraq who routinely violate every
imaginable human right as they kidnap and rape children, behead prisoners of war, burn
prisoners of war alive in steel cages, and destroy archaeological treasures; they ignore the
Syrian regime, with the aid of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, dropping barrel bombs on
civilian population centers; and they ignore Irans efforts to obtain a nuclear bomb, which is
particularly alarming given its stated goal of genocide against the Jewish population of Israel.
For the BDS movement to claim that it is in favor of human rights while ignoring all this is
rank hypocrisy.
This letter is a warning to the Coca-Cola Company that it should rescind its franchise
agreement with the Palestinian National Beverage Company, headed by Zahi Khouri, who
openly advocates for BDS against Israel. The Coca-Cola Company should not affiliate itself
1

See, e.g., Wultz v. Islamic Rep. of Iran, 864 F. Supp.2d 24 (D.D.C. 2012); Kaplan v. Central
Bank of Islamic Rep. of Iran, __ F. Supp. 2d__, 2014 WL 3610784 (D.D.C. 2014); Wyatt v. Syrian
Arab Rep., 908 F. Supp. 2d 216 (D.D.C. 2012); Ungar v. Arafat, 634 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 2011).

with any person or entity calling for a boycott or similar effort against the Israeli government
or the nations manufacturers, companies, products or services.
Khouri has supported for BDS in at least two op-ed pieces published in U.S. media
outlets. Specifically, the Orlando Sentinel published an op-ed by Khouri in which he
advocated for the BDS movement.2 On May 11, 2015, The Hill published another op-ed by
Khouri in which he expressed his support for BDS and criticized Congress for trying to pass
anti-BDS legislation.3 Khouri has also made patently false and incendiary statements
accusing Israel of stealing Palestinian land and culture and comparing Israel to apartheid
South Africa.4
We wish to put The Coca-Cola Company on notice that the BDS movements efforts
are unlawful racial discrimination on the basis of national origin and/or race, creed and
religion under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (Anti-Racism Convention) and numerous U.S. state and federal statutes:
These laws include the following:

The Export Administration Act of 1979 (EAA) which discourages, and in


some cases prohibits, U.S. companies from furthering or supporting the
boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League.

The Ribicoff Amendment to the Tax Reform Act of 1976 (TRA), prohibiting
participation in a boycott of Israel, which includes agreeing to refrain from
doing business with companies and/or employing individuals based on
nationality, race or religion.

42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a), which makes it unlawful for an employer to fail or


refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or
privileges of employment, because of such individuals race, color, religion,
sex, or national origin; or to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or
applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive

Khouri, Zahi, Israel Must do More to Break the Impasse with Palestine, The Orlando
Sentinel, 9/26/2014, available at http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-israel-palestinecontrol-092614-20140925-story.html
3
Khouri, Zahi, New Israeli Government Same Old Misery for Palestinians, The Hill,
5/11/2015, available at http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/241521-new-israeli-government-same-oldmisery-for-palestinians
4
Khouri, Zahi, New Israeli Government Same Old Misery for Palestinians, The Hill,
5/11/2015, available at http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/241521-new-israeli-government-same-oldmisery-for-palestinians; see also Khouri, Zahi, The Palestine Romney Doesnt Know, The
Washington Post, 8/9/2012, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-palestineromney-doesnt-know/2012/08/09/5de0bcdc-e235-11e1-98e7-89d659f9c106_story.html.

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any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his


status as an employee, because of such individuals race, color, religion, sex,
or national origin.
Id. See also 42 USC 2000e-3(b); 42 USC 2000a.
In addition, Congress is in the process of passing legislation, which has already been
approved by the finance committee in both the House and Senate, to discourage politically
motivated actions by foreign countries and international organizations seeking to limit
commercial relations with Israel.
The Coca-Cola Companys own Code of Business Conduct obligates the company to
comply with the above laws, stating:
The Company must comply with all applicable trade restrictions and boycotts
imposed by the U.S. government. . . These restrictions include, for example,
prohibitions on interaction with identified terrorist organizations or narcotics
traffickers. Sanctions for non-compliance can be severe, including fines and
imprisonment for responsible individuals, and the Company may be prohibited
from further participation in certain trade. The Company also must abide by
U.S. anti-boycott laws that prohibit companies from participating in any
international boycott not sanctioned by the U.S. government."
Coca-Colas Business Code also acknowledges that its non-U.S. franchisees are bound by the
above referenced U.S. laws.
Participants in the BDS movement act with the clear purpose and actual effect of
nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of the
human rights and/or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural fields
of those persons and organizations whom they seek to boycott, divest from and sanction.
A boycott is not protected by the freedom-of-speech language of the First Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution because a boycott is not speech, it is action. Calls for and instruction
in implementing unlawful actions are not protected speech (see Holder v. Humanitarian Law
Project, 561 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2705 (2010).
In light of the above, we urge The Coca-Cola Company to comply with U.S. law and
its own Code of Business Conduct and to rescind its franchise agreement with the Palestinian
National Beverage Company headed by Zahi Khouri. As the French telecom-services firm
Orange recently made clear, The Coca-Cola Company should also make clear that it will not
support any kind of boycott against Israel.

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Implementing BDS policies could result in severe liability for The Coca-Cola
Company and its officers. Please provide prompt written confirmation that that you have read
and acknowledge the above.
Please also take careful note that in the event of your failure to comply with the
above, Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center will take all steps permitted by law to ensure that
The Coca-Cola Company is not engaged in instituting, promoting or inciting boycotts of the
State of Israel, Israeli manufacturers, companies or their products or services, including
without limitation filing legal action without further notice.

Yours Sincerely,

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq.


Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, President

Robert J. Tolchin, Esq.


United States Counsel to
Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center

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