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Mar-07-2010 19:46printcomments

USA Today Takes Israeli Position Over Palestinian Restaurant Azad's Dress Code

Every Israeli publication will neglect to mention that these soldiers from the IDF are armed. If you think eating a nice dinner in a place with a quiet atmosphere isn't affected by a soldier with an M-16 laying on the table pointing at you, then you need to have the experience.

Arab graffiti in Palestine
Photo of graffiti in Palestine by Dexter Phoenix

(SALEM / HAIFA) - USA Today is unique among American newspapers with its colorful design, but not when it comes to reporting without the correct filters on.

Today they covered the story we broke several days ago, on Azad restaurant in Haifa, Israel[1]. It is a Palestinian owned business with a dress code stating that no uniforms are allowed. This rule didn't single out the Israeli Defense Forces, it simply applied to all.

For years this policy, perfectly legitimate according the the Haifa Police, at first, has been accepted and followed. Plenty of IDF soldiers eat there, but they respect the rules and arrive in civilian attire.'s Dexter Phoenix spent time in Haifa in 2006 while covering the war between Israel, and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. He says most of the people in this port city are peaceful and while they have their respective neighborhoods, it is one of the few places in Northern Israel where the two cultures get along well for the most part.

But it seems peace only exists here under fragile conditions.

Have a little Whine with your Cheese

All it took to bring the storm to Haifa, transforming this peaceful atmosphere into an international incident, was a 20-year old IDF soldier named Raviv Roth, who became indignant over the uniform policy.

The restaurant Azad on Hillel Street in Haifa.

The USA Today story, supplied by, appears very one sided, and makes the restaurant and its accepted and legit policy look somehow bad[2].

Just the title, USA Today, "Haifa Restaurant Bans Soldiers in Uniform" by Maayana Miskin is completely false. It implies that this long term policy against uniforms was recently enacted against soldiers, which is pure fiction.

My last story on the plight of this restaurant/cafe was called Facebook or Hatebook? - Social Network Used as a Call for Violence in Israel[3].

This is how USA Today presents it:

Following the incident, Facebook users started a group calling to boycott Azad over its policy of refusing service to customers in uniform. Thousands of people have joined the group.

The story inside the story that they missed? Facebook is allowing Israelis to call for direct acts of death and violence against the owner of Azad on the Facebook user page and when you try to use the 'report' button to turn in the direct calls for violence, it appears to be disabled. Hate crimes are apparently as OK with Facebook as they are with these indignant Israelis who believe their military occupational force should be able to enter any privately owned business any way they want.

The USA Today story states:

IDF soldier Raviv Roth was unpleasantly surprised recently when he was asked not to enter an Arab-owned Haifa restaurant because he was in uniform. Roth said a waitress at Azad restaurant told him, "We don't serve soldiers here."

By all accounts, that is not what was stated, the policy had nothing to do with the person being a soldier, it only applied to uniforms. I guess they ran this USA Today story by the Israeli press agents and the spin doctors before publishing it.

Every Israeli publication will neglect to mention that these soldiers from the IDF are armed. If you think eating a nice dinner in a place with a quiet atmosphere isn't affected by a soldier with an M-16 laying on the table pointing at you, then you need to have the experience.

The article did include a quote from Azad worker Fida Qiwan. In their story, Fida accused the soldier of being unreasonable.

“We asked him to leave politely. He didn't take it very well,” she told the Hebrew-language daily Maariv. “But last week a young woman came here in uniform and we told her to leave. She went home, changed her clothes, and came back. Why make a fuss? This is a place that just wants to make money and give people a place to relax and enjoy themselves.”

That paragraph conveys more of the reality of this situation, it is the only one like it in in that report.

Suddenly Unlicensed

The Israelis have no ability apparently to withstand public pressure against an ethnic minority, so the city of Haifa suddenly "realized" that Azad "had been operating without a permit."

The "we're going to get you" crowd in Israel wins again.

Perhaps the only thing different is that this one made the press, thanks to our contacts. As this story takes place, another is brewing about an Israeli nightclub owner who refuses to allow all Arab people into his establishment, and he is getting away with it.

Azad will be closed in April, to atone for its 'offense' against Israel. Obviously this was a licensed and successful business, but dirty government officials there have absolutely no bounds and the laws and rules change like the wind, in whatever direction they must, to quench the thirst of an occupying force becoming less popular in the world by the day... by the hour.

The Israeli Website Yeshiva World News explains that the restaurant never had a chance. It obviously took no more than a huffy 20-year old soldier to cause this Palestinian restaurant owner's rights and position in the world to fly out the window.

Yeshiva World News wrote, Haifa City Hall has issued a closure order for Azad Restaurant in the city for refusing to serve patrons in uniform. There have been a number of cases in which soldiers were escorted out of the restaurant, told people in uniform do not comply with the restaurant’s dress code and atmosphere, and as such, they are not permitted.

City officials stated such a policy violates basic laws and a closure order was issued, only to learn another order to shut down was issued to the same restaurant about a month ago, for an illegal addition to the building.

There were no previous reports of anyone complaining about the policy, more newspaper fiction, making it up and injecting it here and there; totally dishonest Israeli news media.

There is your militaristic state of mind at work, and in control. The police and mayor both initially said the restaurant has a right to set its own policy. But now they no longer have that right, and the sudden lack of a permit problem seals their fate.

When we write about the racism of Israel, it is a very real thing. But Israel also has many people who disagree with the Zionist racist agenda. They have a growing voice. Many are writing to us and asking how we can work together to raise awareness of the real issues. These are the fantastic Jewish people who are humanitarians, rather than Zionists. They do not support Israel's plan to eventually eliminate the entire Palestinian population.

Israel has the upper hand over its neighbors and these mostly Arab people are almost entirely in submission. Israel retaliates so forcefully as a nation, that anyone and everyone in the Mideast who might raise a hand against the Jewish state, is subdued. I think it is simply to keep Israel from having a reason to eliminate more Palestinians in another genocidal rage like the one at Gaza last winter.

One comment person in one of the last reports was typical of what we see from Israel, he stated that "every day, people in Gaza are firing rockets into Israel".

Anyone who watches the news knows this is not true. If anyone anywhere fires at Israel, the world hears about it.

This world is full of cowards and warmongers with false accusations and dirty agendas. They see a tie between war and power and profit and there is little else to it.

USA Today is owned by Gannett, the largest newspaper ownership company in the world. They of course do good work part of the time, but they exemplify the "corporate media" position that we so often discuss as a huge national flaw. They are strapped for money and watching newspapers close as they implement periodic layoffs; maybe we should not be surprised that this paper would lean toward supporting Israeli politics. They should, however, use their immense wealth and funding to really investigate stories, instead of taking them from a biased source.

[1] Feb-27-2010: Palestinian Cafe Owner Faces Closure and Death Threats for 'No Uniform' Policy - Tim King

[2] Mar-04-2010: Haifa Restaurant Bans Soldiers in Uniform - by Maayana Miskin USA Today

[3] Mar-04-2010: Facebook or Hatebook?Social Network Used as a Call for Violence in Israel -Tim King

[4] Facebook page for Azad: Against Closing Down "Azad" Restaurant in Haifa is on Facebook

[5] Mar-07-2010: Haifa’s Azad Restaurant Ordered Closed Yeshiva World News

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address:

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Proud American March 29, 2010 12:39 am (Pacific time)

Great piece! This-is-NEWS!!

ZT March 14, 2010 7:25 pm (Pacific time)

It's amazing how you can twist facts and take them out of context. Sure, the Israeli media didn't mention that soldiers walk around armed. What you don't mention (either intentionally, or most likely, complete ignorance) is that carrying weapons in public is very frequent in the country, and a normal sight. Obviously, those making death threats arn't justified, but there are extremists in every country. You then try and use this to insinuate some kind of facebook/zionist conspiracy, again by leaving out context. There are plenty of anti-Jewish hate groups facebook won't delete; such as one honoring a French murderer who kidnapped and tortured a young man purely on basis of religion. Facebook won't even let those Israelis living in settlements-- or those in the Golan, which isn't even occupied territory, it's annexed-- to list thier hometowns as in Israel. And then, you go on the standard Gaza=Genocide blood libel. Genocide is killing off an entire population; 1,200 people dying out of millions hardly counts, especially as most were not civilians, and the attack was a targeted response to Hamas shelling. (Israel asked Hamas for a ceacefire, and it was Hamas that refused.) And you neglect to mention the warring methods of Israel "subdued" neighbors-- during the 1973 war, for example, Syrian troops destroyed every civilian building they came accross.

Tim King: The number of people killed in Gaza was over 1400.  Western doctors in Gaza said there were only civilians being brought in for care; children savaged by Israel's weaponry in ways that I will not describe here.  S I X Israeli lives were taken by the Hamas rocket attacks, you killed over 1400, several hundred perfectly innocent children, and now you have the lack of humanity to use the word "just" as you shave 200 lives off the books.  You are all such sickening hypocrites with your endless justification for all of that suffering and murder.  I sure hope you are on the payroll, if you really believe yourself then I can only hope you speak for the minority, which we know is not true.  By the way, would you like it if I said any Israeli death "hardly counts?"

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