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World chefs urge colleagues to withdraw from Tel Aviv junket


Prominent chefs from 10 countries are urging their colleagues to withdraw from an Israeli-government sponsored propaganda initiative that uses international cuisine to whitewash Israel’s image.

This comes as Palestinian farmers face theft and harassment from Israeli settlers and soldiers as they harvest their olive crops.

Starting later this month, about a dozen international chefs will be flown to Israel by its foreign ministry to take part in the so-called Round Tables, where they will cook at local restaurants for a well-heeled clientele.

“Round Tables – dubbed ‘gastro-diplomacy’ – is part of the Israeli government’s ‘Brand Israel’ propaganda campaign, launched in 2005 to distract the world’s attention from Israel’s oppression and denial of Palestinian human rights through the use of culture and arts,” the chefs state in an open letter to Round Tables participants.

“While the Israeli government sponsors international chefs to cook delights in Tel Aviv, just a few miles away it continues to deny Palestinians their livelihoods, push families from their lands and limit access to water,” they add. ” It also continues to besiege nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza, where it uses a ‘calorie count’ to control the amount of food each Palestinian is permitted to consume.”

“This year’s edition of the Round Tables festival features farm-to-table food,” noted Thaer Shaheen, a Palestinian chef at Darna in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, who signed the letter. “Whose farms, and whose tables? Israel has systematically destroyed Palestinian farms and farming as a whole and continues to deny farmers access to their lands.”

Attacks and theft by settlers
This week, Palestinians reported that Israeli settlers protected by soldiers raided groves in several parts of the occupied West Bank and stole the fruit from dozens of olive trees that reach ripeness at this time of year.

The activist group Rabbis for Human Rights posted this video of Israeli colonists from the Itamar settlement near Nablus stealing from olive trees:

The group also documented two incidents on Sunday of settlers stealing from Palestinian farms near the village of Janiya, in the central occupied West Bank.

In August, the UN stated that there has been a near doubling of attacks by Israeli settlers since last year which have “undermined the physical security and agricultural livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians.”

Dozens of attacks resulted in injuries to Palestinians. The UN cited the lack of action and enforcement by Israeli occupation authorities as one of the factors facilitating the settler rampages.

Corporate complicity
In addition to financial support from the Israeli government, Round Tables is sponsored by American Express and French vodka brand Grey Goose.

“Round Tables by American Express claims to be introducing international chefs to ‘the multicultural and ethnic culinary heritage of Israel’ while Palestinians are not only excluded from the table, they also continue to be violently denied access to their homes and farmlands,” said Ora Wise, chef at New York’s Harvest & Revel, who also signed the open letter.

Wise personally urged New York colleague Andy Ricker, chef at Pok Pok NY, to pull out, telling him that “nobody can produce or enjoy good food within an apartheid system that destroys the very things any respectable chef believes in – celebration of distinct cultures, sustainable agriculture, preservation of local food traditions and fair and dignified labor conditions.”

Previously, more than 180 civil society groups wrote to the participating chefs urging them to withdraw from the Round Tables.

Following a campaign by activists in Ireland, JP McMahon, the proprietor of Galway’s Michelin-starred Aniar, last month pulled out of the Round Tables.

Palestinian activists are urging people to contact the chefs who are still heading for Tel Aviv and are encouraging the use of the hashtag#ApartheidRoundTables.

Schermata 2017 10 18 alle 22.43

Tags: #Occupation

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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