The Arab-Israeli owner of a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, which was attacked by a machete-wielding assailant in February, is shutting down operations.
Hany Baransi, owner of the Nazareth Restaurant & Deli, was initially unfazed by the attack and vowed he would not remove the Israeli flag from his door.
But he has now announced that he has run out of money, will file for bankruptcy and close the restaurant on June 5.
“I have been fighting alone since the terrorist attack on February 11 to stay open. I have used every last dollar, breath, drop of tear, sweat and blood. I cannot afford the loss and risk anymore,” Baransi wrote in a post on Facebook on May 28.
“The attacks and insults won't stop especially from friends and family, too much debts not enough funds. No paycheck for months,” he continued, before admitting, “I'm exhausted and crushed. I give up, mohamad [sic]wins.”
The restaurant was attacked by a man who reportedly asked people in the restaurant where the owner was from. The attacker, identified by police as 30-year-old Mohamed Barry, attacked several people before being killed by police.
Baransi, who is a Christian, later told The Tower in an interview he believes the attack on his restaurant was no coincidence, as he has always been outspoken about his Israeli identity.
“Is it a random attack? Yes, but it wasn’t a random attack like you’re walking in the street and there are 10 shops and you pick one,” he said at the time. “It was a random attack [insofar] that I was one of the Israelis [picked] between all of the Israelis that are around here. It was a terrorist attack.”
“I am a very outspoken Israeli, and I have an Israeli flag in my restaurant,” added Baransi, who moved to the United States from Haifa in 1983. “When people [from the Arab community] ask me where I am from, I tell them I am Israeli, I am an Israeli Christian Arab, it’s not like I am Palestinian, and then they start arguing and fighting with me.”
Asked whether he would consider removing the Israeli flag from his restaurant’s entryway, Baransi swiftly rejected the idea.
“Actually I have another flag, and I am going to get a bigger flag, and I am going to get a Star of David necklace and put it on my chest, and I am going to get a tattoo,” he declared. “Honest to God, I am not kidding. They don’t scare me. We are Israelis. We are Israelis. We are resilient, we fight back.”