House Hopeful Josh Riley Invests in DC Distillery That Hosted Pro-Hamas Trans Palestinian Chef

'If the first thing that's still coming out of your mouth is, "But, Hamas…," you are an accomplice,' says chef Marcelle Afram

Marcelle Afram (Them magazine/marcelle_g Instagram), Josh Riley (
July 10, 2024

A Democrat running for Congress in upstate New York, Josh Riley, invests in a Washington, D.C., distillery that hosted a Hamas-sympathizing trans Palestinian chef, his latest financial disclosure shows.

Riley—who is again running in New York's 19th Congressional District after narrowly losing against Republican incumbent Marc Molinaro in 2022—holds up to $15,000 worth of private shares in Republic Restoratives, a left-wing distillery in the nation's capital. In 2023, the distillery hosted a pride event complete with food from Marcelle Afram, a trans Palestinian chef who rallied behind Hamas in the wake of the terror group's Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

In November, for example, Afram accused anyone who condemns Hamas of being an "accomplice" to "colonial genocide." Months later, in April, Afram issued three demands for the Biden administration: "a permanent ceasefire, ending U.S. aid to Israel, and [the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement], because we have to hit them where their money is."

"This colonial genocide has existed for 75 years," Afram wrote in a November Instagram post. "If the first thing that's still coming out of your mouth is, 'But, Hamas…,' you are an accomplice, resorting to justifying genocide, and history will remember you as such."

Riley's affiliation with the distillery is a curious one, given that the Democrat portrays himself as a blue-collar Democrat with "deep roots in upstate New York." Republic Restoratives offers a different vibe—in addition to its event with Afram, which featured a drag story hour for children, the distillery sells a variety of spirits marketed toward D.C.'s liberal class.

A "Dissent Gin," for example, is inspired by late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A "Madam" whiskey honors Vice President Kamala Harris, while a "Rodham Rye" pays homage to failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Riley did not respond to a request for comment.

Afram—who uses "he/they" pronouns—owns a catering business in D.C., claiming to use it "to fight for liberation." A former member of the World Central Kitchen, Afram resigned from the group in April, citing its stance of "neutrality" toward Israel's war on Hamas.

"The history of Palestinian resistance and revolutionary organizers continues to teach us; we the people, we are many, those in power, they are few," Afram wrote at the time. "Liberation is the only goal."

"After all, this is my singular narrative," Afram continued, "and as I continue to unlearn the effects neoliberalism and imperialism have had on my brain, and with the swiftness that radicalization continues to embody my soul, the clearest objective for me was to have an honest, vulnerable, thorough conversation, so that our communities can see ourselves, find our tethers, and make our chain stronger."

On Oct. 30, 2023, Afram launched Hospitality for Humanity, an anti-Israel group urging hospitality industry workers to join "the global movement for divestment and cultural boycott of Israel until it ends its horrific human rights abuses." It was through that group that Afram made "demands" on the Biden administration.

"Hospitality for Humanity is about finding our collective power," said Afram in an April interview. "We have three demands which are very clear cut: a permanent ceasefire, ending U.S. aid to Israel, and BDS, because we have to hit them where their money is."