In what appeared to be a blatant display of anti-Semitism, the organizers of a popular street food festival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, decided to remove a Jewish vendor from its "Father's Day" event following pressure from anti-Israel activists.
The event, called "A Taste of Home," was designed to celebrate international cuisine from immigrant communities. But following rumors of protest, one immigrant-based business, Jewish vendor Moshava, was told it was no longer welcome.
In a social media post over the weekend, one of the event's organizer's, "Eat Up the Borders," announced that "in order to best serve our guests, we decided to remove one of our food vendors for Sunday's event so that we could deliver an optimal experience for all," adding that "this decision came from listening to the community we wish to serve and love."
Notwithstanding its decision to disinvite Moshava from the event, EUTB reiterated its commitment to "give vendors from all nationalities a platform to showcase their talents."
Moshava responded to the news in an Instagram post on Saturday, expressing that it was "deeply saddened" by the organization's decision.
"We have some unfortunate news to share with all of you. We won't be attending 'The Taste of Home' event, this Sunday, on Father's Day. We are deeply saddened by this," the restaurant said. "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. We were really hoping that the organizers [EUTB and Sunflower Philly] would step up to the plate and defend local, small and immigrant based businesses, no matter where they are from (as per their so called 'mission statement') but 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 added.
News of Moshava's removal sparked immediate backlash online, as thousands of commenters replied to the Israeli restaurant's post with varying degrees of outrage.
The news even caught the attention of Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan Boyle, who called the organizers' decision to surrender to the "threats of bigots" and remove Moshava "completely unacceptable."
Following the blowback, EUTB and fellow organizer Sunflower Philly, a local art-centered nonprofit, decided to pull the plug on the entire event.
"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," said Melvin Powell, the executive director of Sunflower Philly, in a statement.
In a follow-up post after the event's cancellation, Moshava thanked all those who reached out in support of their cause and noted that the restaurant is "actively working" with event organizers to try to "educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone."
"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," the restaurant added.