Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kitchen Conflict about 200 People Turned out to Show Support for Closed Takeout Spot in Oakland

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kitchen Conflict about 200 People Turned out to Show Support for Closed Takeout Spot in Oakland

Article excerpt

A crowd of about 200 people gathered Monday evening in front of Conflict Kitchen in a show of support for the closed Oakland restaurant's mission of promoting understanding by serving food from parts of the world in conflict with the United States.

Proprietor Jon Rubin closed the restaurant - which has presented the food, culture, and viewpoints of Iranians, Afghans, Cubans, North Koreans and Venezuelans since it opened in 2010 - late last week in response to death threats.

The threats, received by Pittsburgh police, focused on printed informational material that is provided with servings from the restaurant's recent Palestinian menu. Critics have said the material includes anti-Israel messages.

About 50 people spoke at Monday night's event, which was organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Pittsburgh. They even broke briefly into song, singing "All we are saying, is give food a chance."

"As students, it is our duty on campus to shed light on the silenced Palestinian narrative," said one of the organizers, Hadeel Salameh, 21, of Somerset, a senior studying creative writing at Pitt. "But today we stand here, not as politicians or public figures or even SJP, but as big fans of the Conflict Kitchen project and support for them. We are hoping for their safe return.

"So we wanted to get the community together - Palestinians, pro- Palestinians, pro-Israeli, the entire community, everyone that we can - for a common belief that death threats are not the way to address controversy or political issues."

Ms. Salameh said the crowd included students and faculty members from Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as residents from nearby neighborhoods and a few people from Ohio. She also noted some people from the Jewish community.

"We are not here just as pro-Palestinian activists, but as proponents of free speech," said SJP member Raghav Sharma, 19, of Oakland, a sophomore at Pitt studying economics and politics and philosophy. …

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