Palestinian chef prepares meal in a West Bank restaurant.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh are objecting to a local diner’s invitation to customers to sample Palestinian cuisine fearing that it could incite customers against Israel, according to media reports in Pennsylvania.
The controversy was ignited by an establishment known as “Conflict Kitchen,” whose rotating menu features items that are culturally unique to countries “in conflict with the United States.”
The restaurant also hosts cultural and political discussions featuring experts who can provide deeper insight into whichever part of the world the establishment wishes to train its focus.
Conflict Kitchen has in the past altered its menu to offer delicacies from Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. Its latest selection - the Palestinians - has ensnared it into a controversy.
“The idea was to fill what we felt was a void in Pittsburgh,” Jon Rubin, one of the founders of Conflict Kitchen, told a local CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh. “So we started thinking about what can we serve and how can we have a conversation that’s not already here.”
“We realized there has never been a Persian, or an Afghan or a Venezuelan restaurant in the city and that not only have never been those restaurants but, those communities actually exist here.”
Gregg Roman, who heads the community relations council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “Conflict Kitchen’s focus on countries in conflict is honorable, but Palestine is not in conflict with the US. The restaurant is stirring up conflict for the sake of trying to be relevant.”
This week, Conflict Kitchen is serving up hummus, baba ghanoush, “salata gazawiya,” and musakhan, “the national dish of Palestine.” It is also hosting a discussion with a Palestinian author to discuss food and culture in the West Bank and Gaza.