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June 23, 2021 12:43 pm
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Organizer of Philadelphia Food Festival: We’re ‘Truly Sorry’ for Disinviting Israeli Vendor From Event

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The Moshava food truck. Photo: Instagram.

The organizer of a Philadelphia food festival that was scheduled to take place over the weekend apologized on Wednesday for disinviting an Israeli-owned food truck from the event, which was ultimately cancelled amid outrage.

“We understand that our actions have hurt you and we are truly sorry. We want to be very clear that we do not support antisemitism or allow antisemitism in our spaces. Our actions were ignorant and inexcusable,” said Eat Up The Borders (EUTB), one of the organizers of the “Taste of Home” food festival, in a statement.

“We now see that excluding any particular vendor in the name of trying to protect them was the wrong decision,” the statement also said in part. “We did what we thought was best in the moment, but we failed.”

The festival, coordinated by EUTB and and the group Sunflower Philly, was called off less than a day after it was announced that the Moshava food truck, which serves Israeli cuisine, was disinvited from the gathering due to antisemitic threats of violence from anti-Israel activists.

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EUTB explained in its statement that Moshava took part in the food festival in May 2021 and afterwards organizers received “some pushback from activists” who criticized the Israeli vendor’s involvement. EUTB’s responded by inviting a Palestinian food vendor to its June 2021 event, which Moshava was also invited to, but the Palestinian vendor pulled out before the festival “due to time constraints.”

“After attendees noticed the absence of the Palestinian food vendor, many suggested boycotting and protesting at the event,” EUTB said. “Two days prior to the event, 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 them in the future, and work together to learn how to address such a fragile situation. We offered to give Moshava 10 percent of our door sales and vendors offered to share a portion of their proceeds to a cause they were apart of.”

“We were ignorant in our actions, and it was inexcusable,” EUTB added. “We are in touch with leaders from the Jewish and Palestinian community to aid us in our growth and further the conversation. We are truly sorry to Moshava, and the Jewish and Palestinian communities. We look forward to listening, learning, and growing from this.”

Moshava said in its own statement: “Although we were disappointed with how the situation was greatly mishandled we do not believe the organizers intention came from an antisemitic place but the threats they were receiving to their event were.”

Later on Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia welcomed the EUTB apology, saying that a number of Jewish groups would meet with the event’s organizers to provide education and discuss further steps.

“We look forward to continuing this dialogue in order to realize our shared vision of a more just and equitable Philadelphia, in which people of all backgrounds and beliefs are treated with dignity and respect,” the group said on Twitter.

Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism.org — which broke the story on Saturday about Moshava’s ban from the food festival — said an apology is not enough. She told The Algemeiner, “Food is meant to unite cultures and people – for EatUpTheBorders and SunFlowerPhilly to exclude a Jewish vendor from their event is unacceptable. An apology is a good start but education and a dedication to true equality is a must!”

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