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Barring an Israeli food truck from a Philadelphia street fair draws public ire

The controversy led the organizers to cancel the entire food festival.

A decision to disinvite a food truck selling Israeli food from a Philadelphia food festival scheduled for Sunday drew public criticism and dismay that resulted in the cancellation of the event.

Moshava Philly, a mobile Israeli food business, was supposed to participate in Taste of Home, billed as an “event celebrating diversity through food, art, entertainment, community,” presented by nonprofits Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly.

On Saturday, Moshava posted on Instagram that the organizers told the food truck not to come because of rumors of a protest because of the Israeli business’ presence and that they opted to “uninvite us for fear that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event.”

With ongoing backlash, Sunflower Philly, one of the North Fifth Street event sponsors, announced Sunday on social media that the entire fair was canceled.

“Due to the ongoing situation with one of our events partners @eatuptheborders and @moshava_philly we have decided to cancel the ‘Taste of Home’ event,” said the group Facebook post.

The group’s director admitted to making mistakes, 6ABC reported Sunday evening.

“Our mistake this time, with not only our event partners, but in general was not educating ourselves. And not properly making sure that everyone is properly represented. So that’s where we made the decision to cancel the event,” Melvin Powell, the executive director of Sunflower Philly, told 6ABC.

According to NBC10, Powell said that at previous events, food trucks from both Israeli and Palestinian proprietors were present, and that an agreement had been made in the past that one truck would not be present without the other.

Powell said the Palestinian truck couldn’t attend, according to NBC10. “The fact that we couldn’t accurately represent both of them is the reason why we canceled the event today,” Powell said.

A post on Moshava’s Facebook page Sunday afternoon said the festival organizers and Moshava were trying to reach an understanding.

“We are actively working with both eatuptheborders and sunflowerphilly and will meet with representatives from both sides in the coming days to try and educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone,” read the post from Moshava, which was founded by Israeli chef Nir Sheynfeld. “Although we were disappointed with how the situation was greatly mishandled, we do not believe the organizers’ intention came from an anti-Semitic place, but the threats they were receiving to their event were.”

Sheynfeld also could not be reached, and the precise content of the alleged threats could not be ascertained.

A social media post by event organizers had stated that the decision to disinvite Moshava “came from listening to the concerns of the community that we love and serve. Our intent is never to cause any harm. We’re sorry, and we realize being more educated is the first step in preventing that from happening again.”

In a statement released Sunday, State Rep. Jared Solomon, a resident of Northeast Philadelphia and a member of the Jewish community, called the decision to disinvite the Israeli truck to an event celebrating diversity “inexcusable and further promote division.”

Solomon urged the organizers to condemn the alleged threat and to “advocate the rights of all businesses, including Moshava.” He also said he “contacted law enforcement to discuss the situation.”

Moshava thanked the public via social media Sunday for the “overwhelming” love and support it has received since the controversy began.