Israeli Food Truck Disinvited From Diversity Celebration Event Because of Rumored Threats, Organizers Cancel Event
[guest post by Dana]
Moshava Philly, a mobile Israeli food business, was supposed to participate in Taste of Home, billed as an “event celebrating diversity through food, art, entertainment, community,” presented by nonprofits Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly.
On Saturday, Moshava posted on Instagram that the organizers told the food truck not to come because of rumors of a protest because of the Israeli business’ presence and that they opted to “uninvite us for fear that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event.”
With ongoing backlash, Sunflower Philly, one of the North Fifth Street event sponsors, announced Sunday on social media that the entire fair was canceled.
“Due to the ongoing situation with one of our events partners @eatuptheborders and @moshava_philly we have decided to cancel the ‘Taste of Home’ event,” said the group Facebook post.
Yesterday, Eat Up the Borders said that they made a “mistake”:
“Our mistake this time, with not only our event partners, but in general was not educating ourselves. And not properly making sure that everyone is properly represented. So that’s where we made the decision to cancel the event,” Melvin Powell, the executive director of Sunflower Philly, told 6ABC.
According to NBC10, Powell said that at previous events, food trucks from both Israeli and Palestinian proprietors were present, and that an agreement had been made in the past that one truck would not be present without the other.
Powell said the Palestinian truck couldn’t attend, according to NBC10. “The fact that we couldn’t accurately represent both of them is the reason why we canceled the event today,” Powell said.
So, of course, this makes me ask: If it had been any truck other than the Israeli truck that was allegedly under threat, would the event have been cancelled, or would security have been beefed up and law enforcement notified? It seems to me if your organization has a mission/vision statement that reads: Our mission is to break down our everyday barriers through shared experienced through language, food, and culture. As the EUTB team, we are here to help promote small, family, or immigrant owned businesses within the Philadelphia area. Our goal is to bring exposure through interviews and events. The fear of trying something new is understandable, but we are here to help you welcome the community to your doorstep, then this situation presented a perfect opportunity to work hard with law enforcement and the community to overcome fear, and represent all Philadelphia food businesses, including Israeli ones.
Despite the disinvite and cancellation of the event, Moshava’s Facebook page extended the benefit of the doubt to Eat Up the Borders:
“We are actively working with both eatuptheborders and sunflowerphilly and will meet with representatives from both sides in the coming days to try and educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone,” read the post from Moshava, which was founded by Israeli chef Nir Sheynfeld. “Although we were disappointed with how the situation was greatly mishandled, we do not believe the organizers’ intention came from an anti-Semitic place, but the threats they were receiving to their event were.”
However, a Philadelphia State Representative was not having it:
In a statement released Sunday, State Rep. Jared Solomon, a resident of Northeast Philadelphia and a member of the Jewish community, called the decision to disinvite the Israeli truck to an event celebrating diversity “inexcusable and further promote division.”
Solomon urged the organizers to condemn the alleged threat and to “advocate the rights of all businesses, including Moshava.” He also said he “contacted law enforcement to discuss the situation.”
Nor was Philadelphia’s District 3 Senator Sharif Street:
“It was disheartening to hear organizers of “A Taste of Home” disinvite Moshava, an Israeli food company, from participating in Philadelphia’s annual celebration of cuisine.
Philadelphia is the nation’s first World Heritage City, a global distinction as a premier place to visit, live, do business and inspire pride in heritage.
The exclusion of Moshava undermines the spirit of Philadelphia and purpose of this event, a celebration of our cultural differences while uniting communities. Their removal due to threats of violence from others is absurd and has caused division. Given the steep rise in anti-Semitism, we must be vocal and frequent defenders of the Jewish community.
I’m just going to say that Jew-hate is popular right now. As Forbes reports, there has been an uptick in fear by American Jews after a spate of recent attacks targeting Jewish people:
The survey of nearly 600 Jewish Americans by the anti-hate group found 60% reported witnessing behavior or comments they personally deemed to be anti-Semitic following the violence.
That is roughly the share of American Jews who said in a January ADL survey they had experienced anti-Semitism in the prior five years.
Over half (53%) said the level of anti-Semitic behavior or conduct, which many respondents deemed encompasses verbal attacks on the state of Israel (like comparing Israel’s actions to Nazis or calling Zionism racist), surpasses what they witnessed before the Israel-Gaza fighting began.
As a result of their observed uptick in anti-Semitism, some 40% of the Jewish Americans surveyed indicated they are “more concerned about their personal safety.”
A vast majority (77%) said they are at least somewhat concerned about anti-Semitism in America following the recent violence, while most also want federal and state leaders to do more to address the recent uptick in anti-Semitism.
305. That’s how many anti-Semitic incidents the ADL recorded in May 2021, a 115% increase from the same period last year. This included 190 cases of harassment, 50 cases of vandalism and 11 assaults.
And from the ADL CEO:
“This activity has affected more than specific individuals targeted: American Jews broadly are feeling less secure than before, and they believe strongly that our leaders need to do more to prevent further incidents,” he said in a statement.
Many of the most recent incidents, by contrast, have come from perpetrators expressing support for the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel’s right-wing government.
“This is why Jews feel so terrified in this moment,” Mr. Greenblatt said, observing that there are currents of anti-Semitism flowing from both the left and the right. “For four years it seemed to be stimulated from the political right, with devastating consequences.” But at the scenes of the most recent attacks, he noted, “no one is wearing MAGA hats.”
As it stands, members of the Jewish community are wondering, is it time to leave:
For some Jews, the last few weeks have accelerated a sense of unease that has been percolating for years.
“We’ve all read about what Jewish life was like in Europe before the Holocaust,” said Danny Groner, a member of an Orthodox synagogue in the Bronx. “There’s always this question: Why didn’t they leave? The conversation in my circles is, are we at that point right now?