Owner of Philly restaurant targeted in Palestine protests is official Israeli govt propagandist and Biden ally
The Biden White House and top Democrats have denounced Palestine solidarity activists as antisemites for protesting outside an Israeli-owned restaurant in Philly. Its owner happens to be an official Israeli government propagandist with close ties to the Biden White House.
If powerful Democrats are to be believed, it was a night of shattered glass in Philadelphia, PA this December 3. Local Palestine solidarity activists calling for a ceasefire in a war that has left 16,000 civilians dead in the besieged Gaza Strip stopped for a few minutes outside an “Israeli-style” falafel shop and shouted chants accusing the business of supporting Israel’s ongoing massacre. Beyond leaving a few stickers on the restaurant’s windows, they did no damage and moved on.
The restaurant in question was not just some random mom-and-pop eatery that fell victim to an anti-Semitic pogrom. It is owned by celebrity chef Michael Solomonov, an Israeli government culinary ambassador who appears in Department of Justice Foreign Agent Registration Act documents as an official propagandist for the country’s Ministry of Tourism.
Solomonov is also a prominent campaigner for the Biden presidency. Since the full-scale war was launched this October, Solomonov’s restaurant group has been funneling money to the Israeli Defense Forces through a non-profit.
“Our protest was not organized around Goldie’s whatsoever. We were marching to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and made a brief 2-4 minute pit stop to call out Michael Solomonov’s complicity and financial support for an apartheid government. We also stopped at Starbucks to chant near identical chants,” Natalie Abulhawa, organizer with the Philadelphia Free Palestine Coalition, told The Grayzone. “The claims that we stopped by Goldie’s because of the owner’s religious beliefs are naive and dangerously untrue,” she said.
Abulhawa added that Solomonov’s fundraising was the real reason for the protest: “Our Jewish brothers and sisters were out there marching and chanting with us.”
Within hours of the protest, a chorus of Democratic Party elites chimed in to condemn the rally. The White House on Monday denounced the protesters outside of Philadelphia’s Goldie restaurant as “antisemitic and completely unjustifiable.” Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, spoke with the restaurant owner days later, telling him that President Biden, VP Harris, and the “entire Biden-Harris Administration will continue to have his back.” Emhoff went on to claim — without evidence — that protesters “yelled antisemitic chants.”
Protestors in Philadelphia stand outside of a Jewish & Israeli owned falafel restaurant
“Goldie, Goldie you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” pic.twitter.com/yF7hQwev66
— Jordan Van Glish (@thatJVG) December 3, 2023
“Targeting a Jewish business because it is Jewish is antisemitism, pure and simple,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer chimed in. “Tonight in Philly, we saw a blatant act of antisemitism,” wrote Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro, adding “a restaurant was targeted and mobbed because its owner is Jewish and Israeli.”
According to rally organizers, Solomonov’s restaurant was not targeted because it was Jewish or even Israeli-owned. Instead, they demonstrated outside its premises because of its direct connection to the government overseeing the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.
The Goldie restaurant is owned by Democratic insider and Israeli government operative Michael Solomonov’s CooknSolo restaurant group, and has been channeling money to the IDF through the Friends of United Hatzalah NGO. United Hatzalah recently described itself as “a significant component of the war effort.” The NGO’s founder, Eli Beer, personally met with President Joe Biden and addressed congress in an effort to shore up support for a military aid package in late October.
As The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal reported, Haztalah’s Beer is responsible for the bogus claim that Hamas baked Jewish baby in an oven on October 7, issuing the tall tale at a pro-Israel Republican fundraising event in Las Vegas as part of its effort to rake in $50 million.
Beyond the fundraising, Solomonov was listed in 2017 by the Israeli government’s ministry of tourism as its culinary ambassador. As a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing on behalf of the Israel government explains: “This partnership will bring American journalists to Israel for a firsthand look- and taste – of the country’s impressive fare over two exclusive culinary-focused media trips guided by Solomonov.”
Solomonov draws inspiration from the destination, by touring and tasting through a selection of his favorite local haunts that bring to light the historic ways Israel’s food culture has transformed in recent years.”
Though he is not personally registered as a foreign agent, Solomonov has quite clearly been paid by the Israeli government to propagandize American journalists.
When asked to define Israeli cuisine, Solomonov has conceded that it is essentially a fusion of Arab and Mediterranean food hijacked from local inhabitants. “When you go over there and you eat, you start with like 10 different salads and bread that’s fresh-baked out of a wood-burning oven with all these different dips. You’ve got the Moroccan, the Yemeni, the Ethiopian, the Georgian, the Balkan, the Greek, the Turkish. We wanted to open an Israeli restaurant like that,” Solomonov told the Philadelphia inquirer.
In Solomonov’s documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” a hamfisted imitation of the style of pro-Palestine celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, a Palestinian chef asks him, “Where is the Israeli kitchen?” The Palestinian chef points out that “the falafel is ours, the maqluba is ours, the hummus is ours.”
The documentary counters the question with an assertion as hollow as its subject: that food is not political. At the same time, Solomonov openly admits in his film that through his restaurant in Philadelphia, “we made a case for Israel through food.”
Solomonov took up his life’s mission of bringing “Israeli food” to American diners after brother’s death while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. In one podcast interview, he admits that he would have enlisted as well, but his “Hebrew wasn’t good enough to serve.”