Trendy TA bar bans soldiers in uniform

Rogatka Bar employees say "uniforms symbolize genocide and violence."

idf soldiers leave gaza celebrate 248ap  (photo credit: AP [file])
idf soldiers leave gaza celebrate 248ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
At a recently opened eco-friendly bar in Tel Aviv, customers can enjoy vegan delicacies, politic with left-wing activists or indulge in green-colored beer. But wearing green may get them thrown out. The Rogatka Bar - the word means "slingshot" in Russian and was used colloquially to describe slingshots used by Palestinian youth during the first intifada - has found itself at the heart of a fiery debate, after Army Radio reported earlier this week that the vegan eatery does not allow entry to IDF soldiers in uniform. According to the report, two combat soldiers who were sent to the restaurant last week by Army Radio with a hidden recorder, were forbidden from entering the restaurant, and were told they would have to change into civilian clothes if they wanted to come in. Wearing IDF uniforms inside the restaurant, they were told, was forbidden. "It's nothing personal, but ideological," the soldiers were told by Rogatka employees. "Your uniforms symbolize genocide and violence, and the violence that the IDF perpetrates is the reason for ongoing violence." One of the soldiers took off his IDF-issue shirt, but his unit's t-shirt didn't pass the restaurant's dress code either. The two were told to leave. Army Radio later sent another soldier to follow up on the story, but as soon as he sat down at the bar, employees came over to him and demanded that he leave. "Your shirt symbolizes shit and disgust and as soon as I see your shirt, it hurts me," one of the employees said. "Get out of here." "I kill myself to protect you and you're throwing me out?" the solider reportedly replied. "You aren't killing yourself," the soldier was told. "They are taking advantage of you, and you're a slave to the army. Now leave." Calling itself an "anarchist collective," Rogatka, which is located on Rehov Yitzhak Sadeh, also refuses to purchase produce grown in Jewish settlements and prohibits the carrying of weapons. While Rogatka management declined to respond to The Jerusalem Post's queries on Tuesday, the restaurant-bar's policies have begun to elicit a backlash both online and in the Knesset. On Monday, MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) sent an urgent letter to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to check if Rogatka was breaking any laws by banning the entry of IDF soldiers in uniform. MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) told the Post on Tuesday that while he was not mulling any formal moves against the bar, "a society that is embarrassed by its soldiers is not a normal society. "The soldiers are our emissaries," Orbach said. "I'd like to see a place that invites soldiers in because they're in uniform, not the opposite. "But this is a symptom of the new Left in this country, as opposed to the old Left of the Labor party. The new left is anti-Zionist, they are against the Jewish state, and while they are a small group, they're very aggressive." Other voices of protest against the bar's policies could be found on Facebook, where a group called "Boycott The Rogatka" has over 700 members. The group's creator, Yaniv Dvir, told the Post on Tuesday that the responses his group had received fell into two separate categories. "One group of people are just personally insulted by this," Dvir said. "They're shocked and upset, and I think it angers a lot of people. For example, I have reserve duty next month, and when I put on my uniform, am I supposed to feel like a murderer?" Dvir said the second group of responses were more proactive. "There are other people who actually want to do something, you know, to take a stand against this place somehow, and both of those responses can be found within the group."