Toronto Mayor John Tory has denounced antisemitic and anti-Zionist statements emanating from the Toronto restaurant Foodbenders.
“There is no place for this type of hate or discrimination in our city or anywhere else in Canada,” Tory stated in a tweet on July 8. “I stand with Toronto’s Jewish community in condemning this type of hate and intolerance and commit to continue to build up our city as a place that is inclusive of everyone.”
The day before, Ontario Premier Doug Ford condemned Foodbenders statements. “Language and actions like this are disgusting and will not be tolerated here in Ontario,” Ford stated. “Our government stands with the Jewish community in condemning this kind of behaviour here at home, and across the globe.”
Meantime, another food delivery service has cut ties to Foodbenders. On July 7, DoorDash announced that it severed relations with the business.
In a letter to Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Campaign Against Antisemitism, David London, who’s listed at LinkedIn as head of U.S. East, U.S. Federal and Canada Government Relations at DoorDash, wrote to say his company investigates reports of “inappropriate behavior as soon as they are brought to our attention and have decided to remove the merchant [Foodbenders] from our platform for failure to follow the community guidelines and our partner code of conduct. This took effect immediately.”
London said DoorDash was founded “to connect people and we strive to make sure everyone in our community feels safe when using the platform. We do not tolerate any form of malicious, discriminatory or hateful behavior, and any violation of this policy is grounds for deactivation.”
Only the day before, Uber curtly informed Foodbenders that its agreement with the eatery “is terminated effective immediately.” On the same day, the food delivery service Ritual also cut ties to Foodbenders.
As well, Ambrosia, a natural foods store with three locations in Toronto and Vaughan, will no longer carry products from Foodbenders.
In an online reply to Daniel Koren, director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, Ambrosia said it will no longer sell Foodbenders’ products at its three locations. “We believe in love, community, and togetherness,” the business added.
Two Toronto coffee shops, Blue Heaven Café and Café Con Leche, have also cuts ties to Foodbenders.
Located in Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood, Foodbenders has come under intense scrutiny for its antisemitic and anti-Zionist pronouncements on social media and on signs outside the store.
It first drew attention for proclaiming “F@ck the Police” on a sandwich board outside the business. But in recent weeks, it turned its ire toward the Jewish community.
One sign said “defund Israel,” while another stated, “F@ck Mossad, IDF, Bibi.”
On Instagram, the eatery announced: “#zionistsnotwelcome,” and “Zionists are Nazis.”
On Canada Day, the restaurant put out a sign saying, “Happy KKKanada Day.”
The business also praised Leila Khaled, who hijacked two planes 50 years ago as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group designated a terrorist entity in Canada. Alongside a photo of Khaled clutching a rifle, the business proclaimed: “There is only solution: Intifada. Revolution.”
Of Canadian Jewish groups, it said, “These people control your media and elected officials.” On her personal Facebook page, Foodbenders owner Kimberly Hawkins described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “Zionist puppet.”
The statements prompted days of fervid activity on social media and denunciations from Jewish advocacy groups. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it would refer the matter to its Legal Task Force.
“Simply put, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Canadians are Zionists,” CIJA noted.
B’nai Brith suggested contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to request an investigation of that Foodbenders’ business license.
In a later post on social media, Foodbenders said “criticizing the Israeli zionist state occupation or the police isn’t a hate crime. Nor is it anti-Semitic to say that zionist journalists in Toronto and now Israel have written slander [sic] fake news pieces about me to present me as racist for the sole reason of silencing me on Palestine. They are controlling the narrative of my story and they are lying.
“Jews are very welcome to shop with us, zionists may also shop if they can do so without insisting they’re [sic] right to a homeland justifies killing other people,” the post went on “When a Zionist tells us Palestinians should be murdered, something that happens all day long, we ask them to leave because THAT is hate speech.”
– CJR Staff