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Mar-10-2010 03:38printcommentsVideo

The Heart and Soul of Israel
Sad Saga of Azad Restaurant

The discrimination that these Israeli citizens exhibit is akin to the pressure put on so many groups over the years, including their own ancestors in Germany during the 1930's.

Azad protest
Israeli woman points and screams at an Arab man near Azad.
Images courtesy: Haifanet.co.il and YouTube

(HAIFA / SALEM) - Nationalism is a dangerous product in the wrong hands, and when you toss in a dose of religious extremism, the kind that leads to the genocidal decimation of an entire culture, you are on dangerous ground.

Welcome to Israel. This is a place where you can't run your own business; the Israeli military runs it. The IDF, according to Israeli law apparently, can decide what dress codes can be enforced, but only for Palestinian restaurant owners.

That is the story of Azad Restaurant, where a simple 'No Uniform' policy long in effect, has led to a closure notice from the city of Haifa.

But that's not enough. Indignant to the bone that a Palestinian would "dare" not serve an Israeli soldier in uniform, demonstrators gathered in front of Azad looking less like a protest and appearing more like a big ugly mob.

Haifanet.co.il published these images of the noisy demonstration organized by the right-wing blocs in universities in front of the restaurant Azad, under the pretext of its owners refusing to receive police and soldiers in their uniform.

This is a place where some Palestinian families have managed to remain, but they do so in the face of laws written to specifically favor the Jewish population.

Most can live with that, but sooner or later families, businesses and individuals run into the apartheid laws of Israel that play one way for Arabs, and a different way for Jews, that is unless they are left wing, in which case they are frequently branded self-hating Jews, as they rally against military occupation, and for peace.

Azad's owner faced death threats over this simple policy that almost instantly became an international incident. Note: here the real issues that exist; no terrorists, no 'rocket attacks', no Hamas, PLO or Hezbollah, just a gang of flag wielding, pissed off Israelis there to show this cafe that they won't be denying entrance to any of the occupational military forces.

Now this restaurant is going to close. Azad, which in Arab means 'The Free Person' or simply, 'Freedom'. It is quite ironic as it turns out, thanks to a 20-year old IDF soldier named Raviv Roth who decided to take revenge against the policies of this peaceful establishment, because he was asked to come back when he wasn't in uniform.

And there you have an example of the 'real' problems of this so-called 'defenseless' population of Israel.

It looks like the only entity getting "wiped off the map" is this quaint little cafe that people have enjoyed for a long time, with good food and a peaceful atmosphere.

I know the city officials in Haifa didn't start out wrong; in the beginning the city and the local police both confirmed that this business can make and enforce its own policy.

Angry Crowd at Azad Restaurant in Haifa

The complainant was originally told this by the police. But he knew he could take the place down; in Israel a nationwide draft forces every single person to join the military, including the sons and daughters of very wealthy officials, and people with big connections.

The word of a 20-year old soldier is all it takes to end the livelihood of a Palestinian family in Haifa who did no harm to anyone.

Along with all of this came death threats from a Facebook group page against Azad, on which Facebook allowed calls for direct violence. Others threatened to bulldoze the family home. Nice people, these Israelis.

This is the fourth story I have written about the plight of this place, that is owned by a friend of a friend. I think about it frequently, and can only imagine the helplessness that must accompany this experience.

It is what black Americans knowa all too well. The discrimination that these Israeli citizens exhibit is akin to the pressure put on their ancestors in Germany during the 1930's.

It wasn't cool to be a Jew in Germany then.

It isn't cool to be a Palestinian today in Israel.

If you step out of line there will be a mob in front of your place yelling at your customers, draping an Israeli flag over the sign of your business, while the police officers stand below, as if guarding the sad display.

Mar-07-2010: USA Today Takes Israeli Position Over Palestinian Restaurant Azad's Dress Code - Tim King Salem-News.com

Mar-04-2010: Facebook or Hatebook? Social Network Used as a Call for Violence in Israel - Tim King Salem-News.com

Feb-27-2010: Palestinian Cafe Owner Faces Closure and Death Threats for 'No Uniform' Policy - Tim King Salem-News.com

Facebook page to show support for Azad

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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 Salem-News.com'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, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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ZT March 14, 2010 7:15 pm (Pacific time)

The resturant refused to serve a soldier in uniform. The implication is very clear: They don't support the nation's military. You can't claim to want equal rights and services from a nation but then discriminate against those in the armed forces. The same thing that happened here would happen in America. This are private protests, not government actions. In some ways, it already has: Look at all the people who protest agains the Westboro Baptist Church when it attacks American soldiers.  The only one being racist is the person who wrote this article. Americans boycott over thier soldiers being denied rights, it's fine; if Israelis do it it must be because of a racial difference. And Holocaust comparisons just destroy your credibility as a "journalist."

Tim King: Well forgive me, I don't live in a racist nation.  Some whiny little soldier boy's cries outweigh a restaurant owner's right to establish and maintain a dress code.  The Westboro Baptist Church travels hundreds of miles to attend funerals and scream obscenities at the families of people who try to bury their kids with honor, and you know what?  It is legal for them to do so.  Some of you Israeli's have no concept of freedom and any that you carry is only in relation to your own needs and advancement as Zionists.  All you ever had to do was be fair, not steal, isn't that in the Ten Commandments?  I didn't see the addendum that said "Unless they are native Palestinians".  Try all you want, people just roll their eyes when they read excuses for murderous behavior.  The Nazi's did it before, the Zionists do it today.  There were good Germans who didn't go along with it and there are good Israeli's who don't go along with the current racism and genocide, try listening to them.  


stop the insanity March 12, 2010 7:21 pm (Pacific time)

Good Job! Honest reporting! Finally someone is giving a voice to the oppressed people over there!


Tell the truth March 11, 2010 12:43 pm (Pacific time)

The restaurant has NOT been closed. It was ordered to close over a month ago by the city of Haifa due to improper building codes but nothing has happened. The soldier was refused service and complained. The Association for Civil Rights said his rights weren't 'wronged'. People are free to boycott. Your portrayal of this as occupation forces is BS; this is Israel proper and the owner of the restaurant is Israeli. If you are to be a journalist, provide facts, not your BS. All others, find out facts before you provide Nazi comparison comments and the like.

Tim King: You can squak all day but you know how it is, there has been no reference to any closure before your little soldier decided to stomp his feet and 'teach the place a lesson' like a crude thug.  There must not be any respect at all over there.  You know what I am talking about.  Hell, you guys say Gaza was justified, who in the Hell do you expect to believe you?  My story is direct, it is from the source and other media accounts.  Too bad Israeli people never learned to not act out over racial bigotry the way they do.   


gp March 10, 2010 4:17 pm (Pacific time)

please keep us informed as this story continues. I appreciate you covering this so well.


Josh A. March 10, 2010 4:00 pm (Pacific time)

Honestly all i can picture in my mind is Jews sitting down in restaurants trying to enjoy their own peace, with Nazi's coming into their establishment to enforce unfair rules. I can't picture anything else. If these people are justified then so was Hitler. We throw around his name but this is exactly what he used to do, to my knowledge. Deny local residents their religious and cultural freedom. Then you start killing them once you convince the population they are like rats or something... oh.. not again! I can ask myself a million times how? Like a small child I just don't understand this.

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