On June 19, nonprofit organizations Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly disinvited Moshava, an Israeli-owned food truck, from participating in the monthly “Taste of Home” food festival.
Taste of Home, described by its organizers as an “event celebrating diversity through food, art, entertainment, community,” and scheduled for June 20, was later canceled, “to prevent any type of discriminatory activity in our space,” Sunflower Philly wrote.
Word of the cancellation came only a day after Eat Up the Border wrote on social media that Moshava would not be participating.
According to Nir Sheynfeld, owner of the Moshava food truck, event organizers reached out and dissuaded Moshava from attending, fearing a potential boycott and “that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event.”
Other events at Sunflower Philly, including LGBT-oriented events, have resulted in similar community backlash, according to 6ABC.
Moshava’s attendance had provoked criticism, as some accused Moshava of being culturally appropriative of Palestinian cuisine, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. Eat Up the Borders’ original post on June 19 stated 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 to all. This decision came from listening to the community we wish to serve and love.”
Sheynfeld responded on Instagram: “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.”
Meantime, Eat Up the Borders received more than 4,200 critical comments about the removal of Moshava from the event’s lineup. After receiving complaints, Sunflower Philly’s Executive Director Melvin Powell explained to NBC10 that, moving forward, both an Israeli and Palestinian vendor had to be present, in order for one or the other to attend. However, due to timing issues, the Palestinian vendor, unnamed by Powell, would have been unable to attend June’s Taste of Home event.
Sunflower Philly subsequently announced on Facebook the morning of June 20 that the Taste of Home event was canceled, citing an “ongoing issue with one of our event partners.”
“The fact that we couldn’t accurately represent both of them is the reason why we canceled the event today,” Powell said.
That same day, Moshava’s Instagram account publicized that they were planning on meeting with Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly representatives “to try and educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone.”
“Although we were disappointed with how the situation was greatly mishandled,” Sheynfeld wrote, “we do not believe the organizers’ intention came from an anti-Semitic place, but the threats they were receiving to their event were.”
Eat Up the Borders, which temporarily deactivated its Instagram account the morning of June 20, issued an apology online on June 23, saying, “We want to be very clear that we do not support antisemitism or allow antisemitism in our spaces. Our actions were ignorant and inexcusable.”
On June 24, the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution to allow the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development to investigate Moshava’s exclusion from the Taste of Home event, discuss recent antisemitism and consider precedents for future similar cultural events.
Among other organizations issuing statements, the American Jewish Committee Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey applauded the passing of the resolution.
“AJC will continue to work with elected officials, faith leaders, and partner organizations to safeguard the rights, freedoms and safety of all Philadelphians,” AJC Director Marcia Bronstein said. “We also look forward to the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission investigations to ensure that discriminatory and hateful incidents and threats of violence and the failure of anyone to report those threats never take place in our city or state again.”
Representatives from the AJC, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Jewish Community Relations Council, Anti-Defamation League, Jews in ALL Hues and the Board of Rabbis of Philadelphia will meet with the Taste of Home organizers on July 13 “to understand the threats of violence, provide education and urge further action to ensure their events are truly inclusive,” according to the Jewish Federation’s Twitter account.
Iterations of Taste of Home were held in April and May, with Moshava attending the May event, the food truck’s public debut.
Moshava has garnered positive attention and support from the community in the week following the Taste of Home cancellation, Sheynfeld said.
“I feel even more empowered that when this stuff happens, you have to speak up and say something and know that there is a community that, you know, will be there to support you,” he said.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 215-832-0741