PHILADELPHIA.— Protesters marching in Philadelphia against the bombardment of Gaza chanted about genocide Sunday outside an Israeli-style restaurant, leading Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro to call the demonstration “antisemitic.”
In Philadelphia’s Center City and University City neighborhoods, hundreds of people marched to criticize Israel’s military actions in Gaza, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. A video of demonstrators outside of Goldie Falafel depicted people chanting, “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.»
Shapiro first addressed the protest on X, formerly known as Twitter. Later at an event in suburban Philadelphia, the governor said he told one of the restaurant’s owners that he supported him and his staff.
Michael Solomonov is a prominent Israeli chef who has co-authored three cookbooks and received several James Beard awards. He and Steve Cook, the co-owner, are both Jewish.
“The purposeful gathering of a mob outside of a restaurant simply because it is owned by a Jewish person. Well, that’s antisemitism, plain and simple,” Shapiro said at a separate news conference Monday in suburban Philadelphia.
Goldie Falafel is a vegan kosher restaurant that has five locations in Philadelphia and is owned by the restaurant group CookNSolo. Representatives from the group declined to comment.
In a statement, organizers of the protest, Philly Palestine Coalition, called for a boycott of the company’s restaurants. They criticized Solomonov’s role as a culinary ambassador to Israel, and his recent donation efforts.
“He has made a handsome living passing off Palestinian and other Arab cuisine as ‘Israeli food,’ the proceeds of which are now supporting the very army that is enacting Israel’s genocidal bombing of Palestinians,” the organizers wrote.
On Oct. 12, CookNSolo announced on Instagram that they were donating all sales from the day to United Hatzalah, a nonprofit emergency medical service that responds to calls in Israel and the West Bank.
Protest organizers rebuked politicians for taking “the time to condemn our coalition,” while not adequately addressing risinghate crimes against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. They also said recent media coverage has taken away from their mission of drawing attention to “the decades-long oppression of Palestinians.”
No arrests were made, though during the course of the evening, several businesses were vandalized, including a bank and a Starbucks, as well as a police vehicle, the Philadelphia Police Department said.
Shapiro called for those who defaced property and broke the law to be arrested and prosecuted. Police said they were investigating and reviewing footage of the area.
“We should have a spirited debate, dialogue, peacefully and respectfully about what’s happening in the Middle East,” Shapiro said. “I don’t want to rob anyone of the ability to do that peacefully, but when it crosses a line and becomes blatant antisemitism, it’s critically important that we all speak up.”
While campaigning last year, Shapiro talked about his Jewish faith and how it inspires him toward public service.
A line of people stretched into the street outside of Goldie on Monday afternoon, with many coming out to get food and to show support.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates called it “completely unjustifiable” to target restaurants that serve Israeli food “over disagreements with Israeli policy.”
Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel triggered the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades. The war has killed thousands and displaced over three-fourths of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people, who are running out of safe places to go.
The war has sparked protests against the war across the U.S. andabroad. Students around the country have faced suspension for demonstrations on college campuses and high school walkouts. Demonstrators who targeted specific companies have largely protested media bias and focused on media outlets, including the New York Times.