DNC Chair Candidate Forum to Be Held at Anti-Israel Restaurant

Restaurant owner said Israel 'terrorizes' Middle East, U.S. gets 'marching orders from Tel Aviv'

Demonstrators protest outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Demonstrators protest outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia / AP

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The Democratic party's slate of nominees have agreed to participate in a candidate forum hosted at a restaurant owned by a fierce critic of the Jewish State in the face of widespread criticism that one of the leading candidates to chair the Democratic National Committee is anti-Israel.

Candidates for the top DNC post will participate in a candidate forum later this month at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., according to a Politico report. All the major candidates for the chairmanship except Labor Secretary Tom Perez have confirmed they will attend the forum, which is being hosted by Democratic advocacy group Democracy in Color.

Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-born political activist who uses his venue to advance a far-left political agenda, owns the restaurant.

Shallal is a vocal anti-Israel activist, stating that Israel is an "occupation" force guilty of "terrorizing" the Middle East. He has said the United States receives its "marching orders from Tel Aviv."

"Israel continues to violate international law … while the U.S. and its allies sit on the side, getting its marching orders from Tel Aviv," Shallal said during the World Says No to the Israel Occupation rally in 2007. "Folks, this is not an accident—this is a plan to create a new American-Israeli century, and those who dare to speak out will be squashed."

"A century where the military will continue to call the shots, and where Israel, America's largest arms depot, will continue to control and terrorize the region," Shallal said.

Shallal also said during the speech that "Palestinians continue to be ethnically cleansed, humiliated, harassed, imprisoned, serially murdered, and assassinated," adding that "over 300,000 Palestinians have been killed directly because of the occupation."


Shallal's sentiments are shared by the staff he hires to work at the D.C. chain.

In 2013, a group of customers tipped a waitress less because she was wearing an anti-Israel shirt that said "Occupation isn't pretty." The shirt, created by radical anti-war group Code Pink, is sold at Busboys and Poets.

The restaurant said in response that it "encourages" staff to wear shirts that are "in line with the beliefs of Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal."

"We're a restaurant with a specific political point of view," the restaurant's marketing director said in response to the incident.

Busboys and Poets has become the go-to venue in D.C. for events held by radical left-wing groups such as Code Pink. It has hosted 9/11 "truther" organizations, domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, and a series of pro-Hugo Chavez events sponsored by the Venezuelan government.

Shallal hosted a fundraiser at the restaurant in honor of the man who was killed attempting to stab an Israeli soldier during the 2010 Turkish flotilla to Gaza.

Shallal also produced a play called "The Admission," which centers around the fictional slaughter of Palestinian civilians by an Israeli soldier.

The Democratic Party has faced criticism while selecting its new chairman over the anti-Israel comments made by Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), who is considered a frontrunner to win the job.

In comments similar to those made by Shallal, Ellison said in 2010 that United States foreign policy is governed by "what is good or bad" for Israel.

The comments drew condemnation from left-leaning groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, which said they were "deeply disturbing and disqualifying."

Haim Saban, a top donor to the Democratic Party, said that Ellison "is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual," adding that he would "be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party."

The DNC appears to have no involvement in the upcoming candidate forum, but it has hosted events at Shallal's restaurant in the past. One was headlined by Ellison. The DNC did not respond to a request for comment.

Shallal and Democracy in Color did not respond to inquiries into how much involvement Shallal would have in the candidate forum.

Ellison also did not return a request for comment.

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.