Kitchen Nightmares

Anti-Israel restaurant receives funding from John Kerry’s wife’s foundation

Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh / AP
October 24, 2014

A food cart that hands out anti-Israel propaganda with each of its sandwiches has received funding from a foundation run by Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife.

Conflict Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant located at the intersection of Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh University the University of Pittsburgh, seeks to use food to educate locals and college students about countries that are allegedly in conflict with the United States.

It recently began serving Palestinian food wrapped in leaflets that include quotes from Palestinians defending terrorism and opposing the existence of Israel.

"How can you compare Israeli F-16s, which are some of the best military planes in the world, to a few hundred homemade rockets?" states one quote on the wrapper, a reference to Hamas rocket attacks against Israelis. "You’re pushing them to the absolute extreme. So what do you expect?"

"Palestinians are not going to just let [Israel] in and drop their arms," it adds. "No, they’re going to kill and they are going to die."

The statements on the wrappers were taken from interviews with Palestinians. They are published without quotation marks and do not appear to be edited for accuracy.

Another section of the wrapper refers to the creation of Israel as "an intentional and ongoing offensive." It also alleges that Israel deliberately blocks Palestinians from obtaining drinking water, opposes non-Jews from becoming citizens, and has assassinated or imprisoned all of the non-corrupt Palestinian leaders.

According to the wrapper, Conflict Kitchen is supported in part by the Heinz Endowment, which is chaired by Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

A spokesman for the Heinz Endowment told the Washington Free Beacon that it gave Conflict Kitchen a $50,000 grant last April to support its relocation to another site in Pittsburgh.

He declined to say whether the Heinz Endowment would continue to support the group in the future, but added that, "the opinions of Conflict Kitchen do not represent those of the Heinz Endowment."

As secretary of state, John Kerry has devoted much of his time to pushing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but has made little progress. In addition to blaming the rise of the Islamic State on the lack of a peace deal last week, Kerry also claimed earlier this year that Israel could become an "apartheid state" if it doesn’t reach an agreement.

The Conflict Kitchen’s wrapper—as well as two recent events it held with anti-Israel activists—is drawing criticism from the local pro-Israel community.

One event featured Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian activist who supports a one-state solution and the boycott campaign against Israel.

A second event featured University of Pittsburgh professor Ken Boas, a board member of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA, who reportedly compared Israel to South Africa under apartheid and called on the audience to support a boycott of Israel.

Gregg Roman, community relations director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said that Conflict Kitchen organizers have declined to include speakers who are supportive of Israel at the events.

Roman says his request was rejected by Conflict Kitchen’s co-director, Jon Rubin, who is an associate professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University.

"I reached out to Professor Rubin at the end of his event and asked if it would be possible have a member of the Jewish or Israeli community in Pittsburgh to offer a mainstream point of view. And we were flat out rejected," Roman told the Free Beacon. "We look forward to breaking bread with him if he changes his mind."

Rubin did not respond to request for comment from the Free Beacon. However, according to Pittsburgh News, he recently said the pro-Israel community has "plenty of other" platforms to present its views.

"The goal of our project is to represent the voices of the people that we are working with, [the Palestinians], so it does not make sense to have someone from Israel on every one of the panels," said Rubin. "We may have an Israeli perspective at some point, and I understand their desire to have their narrative told, but they have plenty of other formats to do that."

Boas made a similar argument during his Conflict Kitchen lecture.

"For a lifetime we’ve been hearing one side," said Boas, according to the Jewish Chronicle. "From the Jewish Chronicle to the New York Times. Why do we continually have to have balance and get into debates and have discussions?"

"Israel needs to be held accountable for what it’s done and what it’s doing," Boas added. "This is not a symmetrical issue. Israel is the occupying force, and the Palestinians are the occupied people."

Previously, Conflict Kitchen served Iranian food along with leaflets that included quotes that claimed a nuclear Iran would not be a threat and that the United States would profit from any military intervention.

"Iran should equally have the right to develop nuclear weapons," said one quote on wrapper.

"In general, Iranian people have no issues with the Jews," said another quote. "What Iranians resent is the creation of the state of Israel because of the disaster that it created for millions of Palestinians. To this day, Israel refuses to recognize the United Nation’s resolutions for Israel to leave the occupied lands."

The Heinz Endowment was not listed as a supporter of Conflict Kitchen on the Iranian food wrapper.

According to Conflict Kitchen’s Palestinian leaflets, it also receives funding from the Sprout Fund, the Benter Foundation, and the Studio for Creative Inquiry. The Benter Foundation is run by horse-racing tycoon and Democracy Alliance member Bill Benter, who was revealed to be a major funder of liberal Middle East lobbying group J Street in 2010.