A Philadelphia food festival organizer apologized Wednesday for what it said was the inexcusable disinviting of an Israeli vendor and eventual cancelation of the entire event after pressure by pro-Palestinian activists.
The “Taste of Home” festival, coordinated by the organizations Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly, was called off Sunday, less than a day after it was announced that the Moshava Israeli food truck had been disinvited.
“We understand that our actions have hurt you and we are truly sorry,” Eat Up the Borders said in a statement. “We want to be very clear that we do not support antisemitism or allow antisemitism in our spaces. Our actions were ignorant and inexcusable.”
“We now see that excluding any particular vendor in the name of trying to protect them was the wrong decision,” the statement said. “We did what we thought was best in the moment, but we failed.”
The statement explained that Moshava had previously attended a May 2021 event after which there was “some pushback from activists” over the participation of the Israeli vendor.
EUTB said that it responded by arranging to host a Palestinian food vendor for its June 2021 event, but the vendor pulled out days ahead of the festival due to time constraints.
“After attendees noticed the absence of the Palestinian food vendor, many suggested boycotting and protesting at the event,” the statement said. “We decided to prioritize the safety of all — Moshava, other vendors, and our guests — and postpone Moshava’s appearance until a future event.”
“We made it clear that Eat Up The Borders and Sunflower Philly would like to continue working with [Moshava] in the future, and work together to learn how to address such a fragile situation,” EUTB said and noted that it had offered to give Moshava 10% of door sales while other vendors offered to share a portion of their proceeds.
“We are truly sorry to Moshava, and the Jewish and Palestinian communities,” the statement said. “We look forward to listening, learning, and growing from this. We are in touch with leaders from the Jewish and Palestinian community to aid us in our growth and further the conversation.”
Moshava, a food truck serving Israeli cuisine that opened in Philadelphia just last month, said at the time of the withdrawal of the invitation that it was “deeply saddened by this. The organizers of the event heard rumors of a protest happening because of us being there and decided to uninvite us from fear that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event.”
On Sunday, the Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia chapter said it was “deeply disturbed” by the incident, and was working to meet with the organizers “to discuss what happened, provide education on antisemitism and share communal security resources.”
Amy Spiro contributed to this report.