B’nai Brith Canada is calling on members of the Jewish community in Toronto to take action against a local establishment that has used anti-Semitic tropes and posted pro-terrorist content on social media.
Foodbenders, located in the Bloordale neighborhood of Toronto, has turned its ire toward the Jewish community, B’nai Brith Canada said in a statement on Sunday.
On Instagram, the company has announced: “#zionistsnotwelcome” and has further alleged that “Zionists are Nazis.”
Foodbenders also deploys classic anti-Semitic tropes, saying of a Canadian Jewish group: “These people control your media and elected officials.” On her personal Facebook page, the owner described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “Zionist puppet.”
Finally, said B’nai Brith, Foodbenders has glorified terrorist Leila Khaled, who hijacked two planes in 1969-1970 as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is a designated terrorist entity in Canada.
“The sentiments expressed by Foodbenders and its owner are hateful and deplorable, and have no place in the Canadian food industry,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
“Together, acting within the boundaries of the law, we can ensure that there are real consequences for this behavior,” he added.
B’nai Brith suggested several steps that members of the community can take to combat this phenomenon, including contacting Uber Eats and Doordash to request that they cease delivering Foodbenders products until the company renounces anti-Semitism and apologizes for its conduct; emailing local City Councillor Ana Bailão, MPP Marit Stiles and MP Julie Dzerowicz to encourage them to speak out against hatred in their community; and contacting the City of Toronto to request that Foodbenders have its business license investigated.
B’nai Brith noted section 27 of By-law No. 574-2000, which prohibits the use of a licensed business to “discriminate against any member of the public” on grounds of “race, color, or creed.”
Foodbenders' owner Kimberly Hawkins responded recently to the criticism and said that Jewish people and Zionists are more than welcome in her store.
"I’m not anti-Semitic," she said, according to blogTO.com. "That would go against all the other principles that I’ve been standing up for the past few weeks. I believe that Palestinians should be free and have the same equal human rights as everyone and that’s not a stance I will apologize for."
Hawkins said she's received a flurry of hate messages recently, but welcomes conversations with people who want to have "a respectful conversation about their beliefs and any differing views."
"When I'm making a statement about Zionism, I am not referring to Jewish people... It's about the state government," she stated.