How Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and Coca-Cola Broke the Arab Boycott
Our mission was to convince American businessmen to ignore the Arab threat to seal off their much larger market from any company that did business with us. We also tried to drum up foreign investment in Israel, another move that would trigger the boycott. We asked Jewish-American importers to pressure their foreign suppliers to sell to Israel by warning that they would offend their customers if they refused to do business with Israel.
Japanese automakers especially were targeted with the threat of losing their growing American market, but they had already figured out a way around the boycott. Back in Japan the manufacturers carved up the Middle East market and designated only one company, Subaru, to sell to Israel while the others sold to the Arabs. We wanted all of them to sell in Israel, not only for political reasons but to encourage competition, which has never been a high priority for Japanese industry.
I soon realized that my mission had another important goal: convincing large American companies that by boycotting Israel they were not only missing an important foreign market but endangering their sales at home. Before I arrived, a number of American Jewish organizations led by the Anti-Defamation League and its vociferous General Counsel Arnold Forster had established a Boycott Committee. One of its goals was to bring Coca-Cola to Israel.