Justin Bullock, FISM News
The Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia canceled a food truck festival on Sunday due to outrage from the public after the event organizers, Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly, uninvited the Israeli Moshava Philly food truck. Moshava was initially uninvited by the event organizers due to threats of protest from anti-Semitic groups due to Moshava’s inclusion in the festival.
Moshava broke the news to the local community via Instagram post and also expressed disappointment in the festival’s hosts for failing to stand against anti-Semitism.
The local community immediately reacted in outrage to Moshava’s announcement and expressed intense disapproval toward Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly for their decision. Residents took to social media to express their disapproval and The American Jewish Committee of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (AJC) released a statement calling for a criminal investigation into the situation. The AJC said,
It is more than intolerably ironic that Moshava, an Israeli owned food company, has been excluded from an event designed to celebrate diversity. The exclusion on its face not only gives the lie to the claim of celebrating all of Philadelphia’s diversity, but it violates federal, state, and local public accommodation laws banning discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as Taste of Home. We call on the relevant civil rights authorities to investigate, and if the facts are confirmed, insist on appropriate remedial measures. We likewise call on the political and civic leadership of Philadelphia – and of Pennsylvania more broadly – to unhesitatingly condemn the decision to exclude Moshava. Silence in the face of such a blatant act of discrimination constitutes acquiescence and endorsement. Finally, if it is true that the organizers of the event excluded Moshava because of threats of violence, an investigation by the appropriate criminal law enforcement authorities is in order to determine who was responsible for those threats, and whether those threats were themselves criminal acts. If crimes were committed, prosecutions are in order.
In response Melvin Powell of Sunflower Philly announced that the entire event would be canceled. Powell indicated that in the past the festival had always had an agreement to have one Palestinian food truck and one Israeli food truck. However, because it was unsafe for the public to allow Moshava, an Israeli food truck, to attend the event, this established agreement could not be upheld and the festival would have to be canceled. Many in the public were unsatisfied with this response but Moshava released another Instagram post indicating that, while they were deeply concerned about the initial reaction and response to this controversy, both Moshava and the festival organizers were committed to working together in the future to stand against anti-Semitism and discrimination more broadly.