web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Egyptian Jew Who’s Battling Coca-Cola

Front-Page-060812

The glissando of German Nazism in the Third Reich and the Egyptian-Nazi program in Nasser’s postwar regime directly led to the implementation of Hitler’s confiscation program in Egypt. That program swept away the Bigio family’s property – as it did for some 800,000 other Jews living in the Arab world after World War II – nearly all of whom fled or were expelled.

In Bigio’s case, the assemblage of warehouses and manufacturing buildings sprawled across 10,000 square meters in the midst of bustling Heliopolis. The entire industrial complex traces its main commercial life to the 1930s when Bigio’s grandfather first bought the land and built a shoe polish plant there. Eventually, the family business added a tin container manufacturing operation to hold the shoe polish, and from that venture expanded into general tin plating. Eventually, they produced tin bottle caps for soda. In 1942, at the height of World War II, a Coca-Cola licensed bottler became the family’s tenant, bottling the world-famous cola.

One day in August 1962, Refael Bigio was driving to the factory with his father. Police cordons surrounded his buildings at 14 Aswan Street in a well-publicized takeover. As Bigio and his father nervously stepped up the stairs, a policeman barked that the government had nationalized the business. “Give me the keys,” he demanded.

Coke created a great beverage enterprise in Egypt, utilizing the Bigios’ property. Early on, Refael Bigio warned Coke attorneys in Atlanta that they were benefiting from stolen goods. He was ignored. Eventually, the Bigio family sued. That was 15 years ago.

* * * * *

Coke’s corporate attorneys, King and Spalding, have made a small fortune in legal fees fighting the Bigio family. The litigation has been so flammable that after a recent court verdict, the multi-billion dollar Coca-Cola Company punitively attempted to collect the tiny sum of $323.70 in copying costs from hapless Bigio. Bigio’s attorneys successfully fought that effort, proving that Coke had inserted photocopying costs from another case. An embarrassed King and Spalding averred that it was all an “inadvertent mistake” and withdrew their collection effort.

When asked, a Coke spokesman explained, “We merely filed a standard bill for clerical costs as permitted by court rules – just as the Bigios have done twice previously. However, the filing inadvertently attached the wrong invoice, and given the small amount at issue, we chose to withdraw it as soon as we discovered the error.”

Coke corporate also insists, “Coca-Cola is sensitive to the plight of individuals who have lost property through the actions of others in various countries around the world. We understand their desires for a fair and open hearing of their claims. As we have said many times, the facts make it clear that this grievance is against others and not against The Coca-Cola Company.”

But many believe the Bigios are not getting a fair hearing. In the past, Jewish leaders have asked to see good faith negotiations by Coke. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League has stated, “It’s about time that the Bigio matter be resolved, in good faith, either by negotiation or speedy litigation.”

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, has also asserted, “When the government of Egypt originally seized this property, that was clearly wrong. The fact that Coke joined in needs to be taken into account. It is not realistic to give back the property, but it is realistic to provide fair compensation to the Bigios.”

Added Hoenlein, “The very essence of the word ‘compensation’ means it must be a fair amount.”

As for Coke’s legal argument that “Seizure of Jewish citizens’ property in Nazi Germany did not violate international law,” which it asserted as a basis to excuse a similar theft in Egypt, a Coke spokesman stated, “Mischaracterizing a legal citation from a 1997 court filing to suggest that it represents our Company’s broader, well-established views on universal human rights is inappropriate. To even remotely suggest that the Company somehow condones the Nazi seizure of property is ridiculous and offensive.” But attorneys Alyza and Nathan Lewin maintain that Coca-Cola’s pleadings speak for themselves. Coke claims its use of the Bigios’ property is legal because Nasser’s seizure of Jewish property was lawful. In making that argument, Coke adopted the position that “Nazi seizure of Jewish property was not an illegal act.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Egyptian Jew Who’s Battling Coca-Cola”

  1. Jody Davis says:

    Please read this and pay special attention to Coke's "rationale" in its official court pleadings. And I thought Pepsi, a supporter for many years of the Arab boycott of Israel, was the only ugly soft drink giant.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Edwin Black
Effective range of the Iranian Shahab-3 missile.

Iran has been developing its nuclear warhead for sixteen years. It is nearly perfected.

Israeli companies are searching for energy resources anywhere and everywhere in the country in order to lower prices at the pump and in the home, but pulling the black gold from the earth sometimes comes with an environmental price tag.

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

CUFI’s purpose, according to the group’s website, is “to educate Christians on the biblical and moral imperatives to support Israel and to build Christian support for Israel throughout America.”

For Lowey, the question is whether she will break with the Obama Administration, which has signaled willingness to continue funding the new Hamas-infused Palestinian Authority.

Lowey’s choice: the law and common sense on one hand, and her party and extenuating circumstances on the other.

This vote was not about the Conference. This was about J Street; the vote was not even close.

Hundreds of operatives from Hamas as well as Hizbullah, operating with millions of money-laundered dollars, have created a lawless domain that funnels money back to the Middle East, according to a 2010 report by the Crime and Narcotics Center of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Some American Jews feel their community has been hijacked from within by groups waging war against Israel seemingly in the name of the Jewish people.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-egyptian-jew-whos-battling-coca-cola/2012/06/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: