California: Jewish patron booted from pro-Palestinian coffee shop

The Farley’s East workers refused to allow a Jewish patron to enter their restroom, which was covered in anti-Israel graffiti.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A California eatery temporarily shut its doors Friday after its employees’ antisemitism towards a Jewish patron went viral last week, earning thousands of angry online comments.

The woman, who had used Farley’s East restroom, had seen anti-Israel graffiti scrawled all over its walls and wanted to return to take pictures of it.

Three employees blocked her way as she filmed them. One asked her repeatedly to leave, saying she was on “private property,” while another said, “I know Israel likes taking private property and saying it’s their own, but we gotta have…”

After she asked them why they are “afraid” to let her take a picture of the graffiti “if you agree with it,” they let her inside, saying they were not afraid.

After she quickly filmed the walls that bore phrases such as “Zionism=Fascism” and “Your neutrality/apathy is enabling genocide,” they said, “Free Palestine, now please leave.”

The video received over 2.6 million views since watchdog group StopAntisemitism posted it online Tuesday, demanding that the workers be fired immediately for their “inexcusable” behavior.

The eatery said it would close for weekend and possibly for longer, in order to “address our staffing situation.” On Saturday it then said that it had fired the three who had berated and harassed the customer.

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“Though all employees are entitled to hold differing viewpoints, they are not entitled to express themselves on the job in ways that are disrespectful and hurtful to anyone,” the statement said. “Events like these strike fear in the Jewish community and perpetuate the rise of anti-Semitism in our community and around the world. We do not tolerate any behavior at Farley’s that makes people feel unwelcome or unsafe.”

The Oakland café had first tried to make amends by posting to Facebook what they called “a sincere apology.”

“As context,” it continued, “hate speech graffiti was written in our bathroom. We do not support hate speech; this does not reflect our values.”

Saying that denying the customer entry to the restroom was an “error,” which they “apologize for,” they added vaguely, “We’ve taken corrective measures with our staff” and “We’re committed to ongoing staff training for a safe and welcoming environment.”

Specifically denying that they were anti-Semitic, the eatery also asked for the community’s “understanding” that they are “a small business doing our best to operate…in a difficult environment.”

Marc Levine, a former state Assembly member and currently regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, had welcomed the apology as “the least” the owners could do, and offered his organization’s “workplace antisemitism resources” to educate Farley’s East employees when “Jews everywhere are facing vitriol, harassment, and pure hatred simply for being Jewish and supporting Israel’s right to exist. It must stop.”

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Many comments by private citizens on social media were aimed not only against the “bigoted” and “ignorant” workers, but also against the hypocrisy of the “values” that the business publicly espouses.

“We just don’t shame progressives enough,” wrote one. “Even if you don’t like Israel, this is very clear antisemitism. Imagine saying a Jewish person = Israel. Like wtf, this is literal neo-nazi talking points. At least here on the right…neo-nazis are losers who will never have institutional power. Most people don’t like them.”

“Progressives on the other hand?” he continued. “They have both institutional power (such as universities faculties being anti-semitic or overwhelmingly sympathetic to Hamas) and influence on the youth.”