White House slams ‘antisemitic’ protest at Philadelphia Israeli restaurant

Pennsylvania Gov. Shapiro says pro-Palestinian demonstration outside of Israeli-American celebrity chef Michael Solomonov’s Goldie ‘is reminiscent of a dark time in history’

Demonstrators march west towards the UC Townhomes during an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian rally in Philadelphia, Sunday, December 3, 2023. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Demonstrators march west towards the UC Townhomes during an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian rally in Philadelphia, Sunday, December 3, 2023. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

The White House on Monday blasted as “antisemitic” an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian rally held outside a kosher restaurant in Philadelphia.

“Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” the crowd of dozens was filmed chanting outside the Rittenhouse Square branch of Goldie, which was founded by Israeli-American celebrity chef Michael Solomonov, a coauthor of three cookbooks and recipient of several James Beard awards. He and Steve Cook, the co-owner, are both Jewish.

“It is antisemitic and completely unjustifiable to target restaurants that serve Israeli food over disagreements with Israeli policy, as Governor Shapiro has underlined,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement, referring to a similar condemnation from Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.

“This behavior reveals the kind of cruel and senseless double standard that is a calling card of antisemitism,” Bates said.

Shapiro, who is Jewish, called the crowd’s chant “a blatant act of antisemitism — not a peaceful protest.”

“A restaurant was targeted and mobbed because its owner is Jewish and Israeli,” Shapiro tweeted. “This hate and bigotry is reminiscent of a dark time in history.”

Goldie Falafel is a vegan kosher restaurant that has five locations in Philadelphia and is owned by the restaurant group CookNSolo. Representatives from the group declined to comment.

In a statement, organizers of the protest, Philly Palestine Coalition, called for a boycott of the company’s restaurants. They criticized Solomonov’s role as a culinary ambassador to Israel, and his recent donation efforts.

“He has made a handsome living passing off Palestinian and other Arab cuisine as ‘Israeli food,’ the proceeds of which are now supporting the very army that is enacting Israel’s genocidal bombing of Palestinians,” the organizers wrote.

On Oct. 12, CookNSolo announced on Instagram that they were donating all sales from the day to United Hatzalah, a nonprofit emergency medical service that responds to calls in Israel and the West Bank.

Award winning Chef Michael Solomonov, left, works the oven and the line at his restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 2015. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via JTA)

Protest organizers rebuked politicians for taking “the time to condemn our coalition,” while not adequately addressing rising hate crimes against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. They also said recent media coverage has taken away from their mission of drawing attention to “the decades-long oppression of Palestinians.”

No arrests were made, though during the course of the evening, several businesses were vandalized, including a bank and a Starbucks, as well as a police vehicle, the Philadelphia Police Department said.

Following the protests, a line of people stretched into the street outside of Goldie on Monday afternoon, with many coming out to get food and to show support.

Antisemitism has been on the rise in the US since Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza broke out on October 7 in response to Hamas terrorists unleashing a massacre in Israel. Some 3,000 terrorists burst through the border into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians slaughtered amid brutal atrocities, and taking about 240 hostages.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, about 75 percent of Jewish college students in the US have either experienced or witnessed antisemitism since the beginning of this school year, a 30% rise compared to last year.

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