Protesters marching in Philadelphia against the bombardment of Gaza chanted about genocide Sunday outside an Israeli-style restaurant, leading Governor Josh Shapiro to call the demonstration “antisemitic.”
In Philadelphia’s Center City and University City neighborhoods, hundreds of people marched to criticize Israel's military actions in Gaza, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
However, it was unclear why some specifically protested the restaurant. A video of demonstrators outside Goldie Falafel depicted people chanting, “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” which garnered backlash from the Democratic governor.
Shapiro first addressed the protest on X, formerly known as Twitter. Later Monday, appearing at an unrelated event in suburban Philadelphia, the governor said he was in touch with Michael Solomonov, one of the restaurant's owners, to make sure he and his staff knew that the governor would support them.
Solomonov is a prominent Israeli chef who has co-authored three cookbooks and received several James Beard awards. He and Steve Cook, the co-owner, are both Jewish.
“The purposeful gathering of a mob outside of a restaurant simply because it is owned by a Jewish person - well, that’s antisemitism, plain and simple,” Shapiro said at a separate news conference Monday in suburban Philadelphia.
The governor - who, while campaigning last year, talked about his Jewish faith and how it inspires him toward public service - called for "a spirited debate, dialogue, peacefully and respectfully, about what’s happening in the Middle East.”
Representatives of the restaurant's group, CookNSolo, declined to comment on the protest. Requests for comment were left with the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition. A message seeking information on any possible arrests was left with the Philadelphia Police Department.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates called it “completely unjustifiable” to target restaurants that serve Israeli food “over disagreements with Israeli policy.”
Goldie Falafel is a vegan kosher restaurant that has five locations in Philadelphia. CookNSolo operates several well-known restaurants with Israeli fare in Philadelphia.
A line of people stretched into the street outside Goldie on Monday afternoon, with many coming out to get food and to show support.
Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel triggered the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence in decades. The war has killed thousands and displaced over three-fourths of Gaza's population of 2.3 million people, who are running out of safe places to go.
The war has sparked protests across the U.S. and abroad. Students around the country have faced suspension for demonstrations on college campuses, and there have been high school walkouts. Demonstrators who targeted specific companies have largely protested media bias and focused on media outlets, including The New York Times.