Antisemitic Toronto eatery is heading to court over discrimination

Foodbenders and its owner Kimberley Hawkins may need to appear at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for announcing "Zionists are not welcome" at her store.

Toronto Skyline (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Toronto Skyline
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Foodbenders, the Toronto-area eatery whose owner, Kimberly Hawkins, is at the center of a storm for promoting extreme antisemitic, anti-Zionist theories and tropes, which included placing signs claiming Israeli responsibility for police brutality in the United States and allegations that Jeffery Epstein was part of a "Zionist Mossad" operation on its now-deleted Instagram page, is being taken to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in a discrimination lawsuit, The Jerusalem Post was told Sunday.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is the administrative tribunal that determines applications brought under the province's Human Rights Code, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed and more in areas such as services, housing and employment.
The organization responsible for submitting the complaint, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), which represents the interests of Canada’s Jewish Federations, has been heavily involved in bringing prominent public figures, including leading Canadian politicians, to condemn the restaurant and the behavior of its owner.
CIJA also released a statement to The Jerusalem Post regarding recent antisemitic incidences in the Greater Toronto Area, including in relation to Foodbenders, and a separate case in Mississauga, where protesters at an anti-Israel event chanted in Arabic "Jews are our Dogs,"
"Enough is enough. It is outrageous that in 2020 people feel comfortable using dehumanizing and exclusionary language targeting the Jewish community. The days of signs stating “No Dogs and No Jews” at establishments in the GTA should be firmly behind us," said Barbara Bank, Chair of CIJA Toronto
"There is a lot of room for legitimate discussion about the State of Israel and the politics of the Middle East, but our community will not accept the use of Israel as a pretense to call Jews 'dogs'.
“This is not just offensive. Hate directed at Jews and other communities has a toxic impact on our city, province and country. Hatred that starts with words all too often ends in violence. "Taking a stand against one form of hate can help advance the fight against all its ugly forms. To that end, it is time for Ontario lawmakers to finalize the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism," she added.
CIJA said that they are calling on Ontario's provincial government to pass the Combating Antisemitism Act, which would adopt the IHRA definition into law.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in addition to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, current Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer and other prominent politicians in the province, have in recent days condemned the actions and statements of FoodBenders and Hawkins.


In light of the storm surrounding the restaurant, had its contracts with delivery and online ordering services Uber Eats, Square, DoorDash and Ritual terminated. The restaurant has been a spot of fierce protests between pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian activists since 2018, and has seen confrontations between the two groups. In some instances, Foodbenders has been vandalized and spray-painted with Stars of David, as noted in an earlier report.
As a result of Foodbenders' inflammatory and antisemitic statements, which came to  a head weeks prior, B’nai B’rith Canada launched a grassroots campaign that included contacting politicians, requesting food delivery services cease delivering its products and petitioning the city to revoke its business license. According to toronto.com, a local news outlet, officers from the city's business licensing bureau are investigating the restaurant for violating a bylaw prohibiting discriminating behavior.
Beyond her promotion of antisemitic anti-Zionist conspiracy theories online and at her store, Hawkins has said on Instagram and elsewhere that "Zionists are Nazis" and are not welcome at her restaurant, while also tying it to alleged Jewish and Zionist influence within the Canadian government and in US foreign policy.
Similarly, the outcry against the store also stemmed from its use of profanity in public spaces, as signs placed on the sidewalk read f**k the police, Mossad, CIA, MI6,” among others.