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June 20, 2021 4:59 pm
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Outrage Erupts After Philadelphia Festival Disinvites Israeli Food Truck Due to Antisemitic Threats

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The food truck of Philadelphia Israeli food vendor Moshava. Photo: Facebook.

Outrage erupted on Sunday after an Israeli vendor was banned from a Philadelphia food festival due to antisemitic threats of violence from anti-Israel activists.

Eat Up the Borders was set to hold the event A Taste of Home, which would feature cuisine from around the world as an expression of support for immigrants, including from the Israeli food truck Moshava.

The group announced on Saturday, however, that Moshava was disinvited, initially saying, “This decision came from listening to the community we wish to serve and love.”

However, organizer Chris “Chip” Coughlan later admitted in an Instagram message that threats of violence had prompted the decision, saying, “We received more hate than I thought was possible for having an Israeli vendor.”

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“The amount of uproar we received and legitimate threats forced our hand,” he claimed.

Moshava responded to the decision, also in an Instagram post, saying, “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. … By the looks of it fear, violence, and intimidation got the best of them.”

“We really do hope that in the future you don’t succumb to such antisemitic and dividing rhetoric and keep true to your words of a safe environment for all religions and nationalities — not just all of them except Israeli and Jewish ones,” Moshava said to the organizers.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia branch issued a joint statement with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Philadelphia, saying they were “deeply disturbed” by the incident.

“We have spoken with the event organizers and expressed that we unequivocally disagree with their decision,” they said. “We do understand that threats to the organizers were made, and we understand the fear and confusion that comes when your community faces that intimidation.”

“The vile antisemitic rhetoric and threats of violence lobbed at the organizers was utterly despicable,” the groups asserted, condemning social media users who expressed “shameful and deeply upsetting” antisemitism.

“In the next few days, we will be meeting with the organizers to discuss what happened, provide education on antisemitism, and share communal security resources,” they announced.

Philadelphia Congressman Brendan Boyle also weighed in, saying, “This decision represents surrendering to the threats of bigots.” The ban on Moshava, he added, was “completely unacceptable.”

“Given the disturbing rise in acts of antisemitism across our region and country, this decision by the organizers is only helping to embolden those who would use threats of protest or even violence to prevent any people, businesses, and entire communities from living and operating freely without fear,” Boyle asserted.

The congressman called for an investigation by law enforcement “if the explanation of the organizers that Moshava’s invitation was revoked due to the threat of protests and violence is true.”

Later on Sunday, Moshava issued a second statement, saying, “We wanted to say thank you to everyone who reached out to us. The love and support we have been receiving the past 24 hours has been overwhelming.”

They said they would be meeting with “representatives from both sides in the coming days to try and educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone.”

“We do not believe the organizers’ intention came from an antisemitic place, but the threats they were receiving to their event were,” they added.

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