• Boycott hurts American restaurants in Persian Gulf

CAIRO, Egypt -- The Associated Press reports that an ongoing Arab boycott of American-made products, foods and businesses in the Persian Gulf is taking its toll.

The boycott -- which officially began nearly 50 years ago in protest of U.S. support of Israel -- intensified during a Palestinian uprising in September 2000 and gained momentum with Israel's invasion of Palestine on March 29.

A senior executive at Americana, a Kuwait-based operator of Pizza Hut and Baskin Robbins franchises, told AP that profits and sales were down 45 percent in Jordan, 40 percent in Egypt and 20 percent across the Gulf.

Still, some Arabs say they can't do without U.S. products because they're better than Arab-made goods and they've become cultural fixtures. One 17-year-old Egyptian boy interviewed said he supports the boycotts where he can, but when it comes to hamburgers and french fries, Egypt has no McDonald's equivalent.

Haya Abdul-Aziz al Munei, a columnist for a Saudi-Arabian daily newspaper wrote of her own contradictory behavior.

"At first, I agreed to the boycott, especially the boycott of foodstuffs that have made us fat and sick. ... But what about the appliances in our kitchens and offices? What about the cars and air conditioners? What about the hospital equipment?"

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