Claim: Edible Arrangements funds the terrorist organization Hamas.
Example:[Collected via Facebook, July 2014]
A friend posted an "article" about Edible Arrangements supporting Hamas: "After you see what Edible Arrangments did for Hamas, you'll never buy from them AGAIN." Being suspicious, I did a search and found a number of articles, all from late 2012, and all from questionable "news" sources.
Origins: Edible Arrangements International is a U.S.-based business that specializes in selling "fruit bouquets," fruit baskets designed like floral arrangements. As of 2014, the company was a 1,200-store chain with outlets in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong, Oman, India and China.
Since at least as far back as 2012, rumors have circulated claiming that brothers Tariq and Kamran Farid, who founded the company, are "devout Pakistani Muslims" who have, through their Tariq Farid Foundation, donated money to organizations linked with Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist movement engaged in armed resistance and terrorism against Israel:
Tariq Farid is the CEO of Edible Arrangements, which he started with his brother, Kamran Farid. Not only are they devout Pakistani Muslims, but they are major donors and fundraisers for American mosques, Islamic schools, and similar enterprises in Pakistan. Recent tax returns of their Farid Foundation, to which they and Edible Arrangements are major contributors, show that their foundation gives tens of thousands of dollars to extremist Islamic schools and mosques in America and to Islamic Relief, the HAMAS/Al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood "charity" which sends tens of millions of dollars to finance jihad around the world.
The Anti-Defamation League (whose stated mission is to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens alike") said of such rumors back in 2012 that:
We have received several such inquiries regarding recent allegations by Debbie Schlussel in an article critical of the owners of Edible Arrangements, which sells fruit baskets and the like. Schlussel claims that the owners of Edible Arrangements are funding Palestinian terror organizations, including Hamas, through their Farid Foundation.
In our judgment, Schlussel's allegations lack context and nuance and she does not offer any clear evidence to support them. Even if the Farid Foundation has provided funding for some of the American Muslim groups she references, we believe it is an unsupported stretch to conclude that the Foundation or Edible Arrangements is funding Hamas.
The ADL disclaimed these rumors again in August 2014:
A widely circulated rumor suggests that the owners of Edible Arrangements, a company that sells fruit baskets through a series of privately owned franchises across the country, are “funding Hamas” through a charitable foundation they support. Several ideologically motivated online sites are urging consumers to boycott the company due to their “ties to terrorism."
In fact, there is absolutely no truth to these unfounded assertions. While the Farid Foundation has provided funding to various organization in the U.S. and abroad, there is no evidence to suggest that any of those funds have been used to support terrorism. Moreover, the company has clearly and unequivocally denounced terrorism, including those forms of terror used by Hamas.
It should also be noted that the company's franchise owners come from a variety of religious backgrounds; some are Jewish, including the company’s current president.
We do note that in June 2014 Islamic Relief WorldWide (IRW) was banned from operating in Israel due to that country's belief that IRW "funnels cash to Hamas":
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon [has] signed a decree banning Islamic Relief Worldwide from operating in Israel.
Israel believes IRW, which markets itself as a charitable agency that solicits donations from all over the world, funnels cash to Hamas.
Ya’alon’s ban was decided upon after the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the coordinator for government activities in the territories, and legal authorities provided incriminating information against IRW.
The organization has representatives worldwide, including Australia, the United States, and Britain, where it is headquartered. Some of their local branches in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria are run by Hamas operatives.
Ya'alon's decree makes it illegal for IRW to function anywhere in Israel, Judea, and Samaria. It will also be forbidden from transferring funds to any destination in Judea and Samaria.
"[The IRW] is another source of funds for Hamas, and we have no intention of allowing it to operate and assist terrorist activity against Israel," Ya'alon said. "This is another in a series of steps that we are taking against Hamas in Judea and Samaria and the pressure we are applying, the goal of which is to harm the organization’s leadership and rank-and-file as well as its civilian infrastructure. These serve as the foundation from which Hamas operates among the local population."
In March 2014, Blue MauMaureported on a sexual and religious harassment lawsuit against Edible Arrangements and founder Tariq Farid which referenced charitable organizations that the Farids allegedly support:
Farid and his brother, Kamran Farid (Edible Arrangements' Chief Operating Officer), at all relevant times hereto have been the two trustees of a foundation called the Farid Foundation, operated out of the same location as Edible Arrangements. Farid Foundation makes significant contributions to Islamic causes and organizations, including the Farid Foundation Pakistan; the Salma K. Farid Academy; Islamic Circle of North America Relief; the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut; the Inner-City Muslim Action Network; the Wallingford Islamic Center; Masjid AI-Islam; and the Islamic Association of Southern Connecticut. The funding for these donations is derived in large part from donations by Farid and his brother, and by Edible Arrangements and its affiliated entities.
One of those organizations, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) supposedly has financial ties to Hamas, but the evidence presented for that claim only references web links from the ICNA web site to Hamas and similar groups, not any direct financial ties:
Open support for terrorist causes was available on the websites of regional ICNA branches, even after 9/11. As late as November 2002, the ICNA Southeast Zone website linked to the websites of Hamas, Hizballah, and terrorist organizations fighting in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and the Pakistani-Indian disputed region of Kashmir. Among its short list of recommended Islamic charities was the Islamic Society in Gaza, which openly touted its connections to Hamas.
The day after the Blue MauMau article was published, Tariq Farid's legal representatives issued a letter challenging the truthfulness of its implications, demanding its retraction, and asserting, among other things, that Farid's foundation only donation to ICNA was made "to a special fund of the ICNA called 'ICNA Relief USA', an organization in New York City, which, among other things, helps women with temporary housing:
This letter addresses a recent article regarding my clients, Tariq Farid and the Farid Foundation, that was written by Paul Steinberg under the pseudonym "Corbin Williston," and published on your website, Blue MauMau. The article is false and defamatory of Mr. Farid and the Farid Foundation, and we demand an inunediate and complete retraction. We also demand that the publication be immediately removed from all websites under your control.
The article has been deliberately written to falsely accuse Mr. Farid and the Farid Foundation of supporting the illegal acts of alleged terrorist organizations and the activities of alleged war criminals. Moreover, the article is written so that a reasonable reader would believe
that Edible Arrangements, the well-known business of which Mr. Farid is founder and CEO, also supports these alleged acts of terrorism. These statements, and the entire message of the article, are patently and outrageously false. Indeed, the author and publisher of these falsehoods could only have acted with actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth.
The article asserts that Mr. Farid and the Farid Foundation supports terrorist activities overseas through the Farid Foundation's donations to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). In fact, the Farid Foundation's only contribution was to a special fund of the ICNA called "ICNA Relief USA", an organization in New York City, which, among other things, helps women with temporary housing.
When a rumormonger made similar false accusations against the Farid Foundation some time ago, the Anti-Defamation League responded that such "allegations lack[ed] context and nuance and [the accuser] [did] not offer any clear evidence to support them. Even if the Farid Foundation has provided funding for some of the American Muslim groups she referenc[ed], we believe it [was] an unsupported stretch to conclude that the Foundation or Edible Arrangements [funded] Hamas."
Most egregious and defamatory is the article’s clear implication that Mr. Farid and the Farid Foundation supports the goals of an alleged terrorist (Ashrafuzzaman Khan) or overseas terrorist groups. There is not a shred of objective fact, cited or existing, to support this false assertion.
In addition, the article is in part based on false allegations contained in a complaint of an ex-employee of Edible Arrangements. Mr. Farid and Edible Arrangements have refuted those allegations in their answer and will obtain dismissal of all claims in the litigation.
Blue MauMau's original article has not been retracted, and its author published a follow-up the next day stating (in part):
A few observations regarding the Edible Arrangements statement:
The franchise does not dispute that the head of ICNA was recently convicted of war crimes in Bangladesh.
The franchise says that Edible Arrangements actually gave money to "a special fund" of ICNA. In other words, although ICNA may have been run by a man convicted of torture and murder of 18 people, he also ran "a special fund" which "helps women with temporary housing."
Members of the public may find this a distinction without a difference, and they may also find it relevant that Edible Arrangements does not see any problem with ICNA's history of behavior, nor does it see any problem with the head of ICNA being a party to torture.
My guess is that the people who were tortured and murdered might disagree with Tariq Farid.
The franchise says that a "reasonable reader" may believe that Edible Arrangements and Tariq Farid "support these alleged acts of terrorism." Well, yes. That is a "reasonable" reading of the uncontroverted facts laid out in the BlueMauMau article.
Whatever the truth of those issues regarding ICNA may be, the evidence for a direct financial link between ICNA and Hamas (and thus between Edible Arrangements and Hamas) still appears rather tenuous.