An Israeli American food vendor was disinvited from a Philadelphia food festival after threats were made against the organizers for allowing someone with ties to Israel to participate.
The festival in honor of Father's Day weekend was organized by Philadelphia-based non-profit groups Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly. The Taste of Home event was described by organizers as “celebrating diversity through food, art, entertainment."
Moshava Philly, a mobile Israeli food business that was scheduled to participate, on Saturday confirmed on Instagram that they were disinvited, adding that they were “deeply saddened” by the decision, saying that “fear, violence, and intimidation got the best of them.”
"The organizers of the event heard rumors of a protest happening because of us being there and decided to disinvite us from fear that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event,” Moshava said.
After a public backlash, however, organizers decided to cancel the entire event for the time being.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Sunday that Melvin Powell, the executive director of Sunflower Philly, had told a local TV news channel that food trucks owned by Israelis and Palestinians participated in previous events. But the organizers agreed that one would not participate without the other and the Palestinian food truck apparently had decided to pull out.
"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,” he said.
In a later post on Moshava Philly’s Facebook page, the owners said they were in conversation with the festival organizers and trying to reach an understanding.
“We are actively working with both eatuptheborders and sunflowerphilly and will meet with representatives from both sides in the coming days to try and educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone,” the business posted.
“Although we were disappointed with how the situation was greatly mishandled, we do not believe the organizers’ intention came from an anti-Semitic place, but the threats they were receiving were [anti-Semitic]," they said.
The Anti-Defamation League stated that it was “deeply disturbed” by the incident.