Palestinian Restaurant Chain Sparks Outrage Over Antisemitic Phrase on Seafood Menus

Palestinian Restaurant Chain Sparks Outrage Over Antisemitic Phrase on Seafood Menus

A Palestinian restaurant chain with locations across New York City opened a fourth location in Brooklyn this past week and faced immediate backlash for some of the language on the menu.

The Ayat restaurant opened up a location in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, The New York Post reported.

The presence of the Palestinian eatery did not upset locals in and of itself. But one bit of language on the menu’s seafood section ruffled some feathers.

Ayat’s seafood and fish selections are controversially listed under “From the River to the Sea,” which is a racially loaded phrase used by people who are opposed to Israel’s right to exist.

The phrase has been used heavily since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks that killed more than 1,400 Israeli citizens.

Israel declared war on Hamas following the attacks – and Hamas has received plenty of support from anti-Semites across the West since who have chanted the slogan and also shared it online.

As the American Jewish Committee notes, “From the River to the Sea” is “the catch-all phrase symbolizing Palestinian control over the entire territory of Israel’s borders, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

In short, the phrase is interpreted by many people as a call to wipe, not only Israel, but the Jewish people out of existence.

The Post spoke with Ayat’s owners Abdul Elenani and Ayat Masoud about the menu language in question as well as other visuals at the restaurant that concern some – including a mural of a crying Palestinian woman with the slogan “Down with the occupation.”

Elenani told the Post the seafood slogan was not meant to be hateful and also claimed that the dustup was the result of a misunderstanding and that the phrase is a call for peace.

“That slogan has been on my menu for the past year, way before Oct. 7, and that slogan within our communities has always been defined as a calling for peace and equality for Palestinian people in their country,” he said.

Elenani added: “And after Oct. 7, it was interpreted to be a way to kill, exile, murder, do whatever to all the Jewish people, which is totally nowhere near our definition. It’s been driving me crazy.”

The new restaurant’s 19-year-old manager Hania Khattab told the Post that the slogan’s spot on the menu is merely a “pun.”

Not everyone has been quick to accept the restaurant’s explanation of why the anti-Semitic phrase is on its menu.

City Councilman Kalman Yeger, a Democrat who represented the neighborhood, told the Post he does not buy Ayat’s explanation for the placement of “From the River to the Sea” on its menu.

“These restaurateurs may think they are being cute or funny, but that phrase is universally recognized as a call for the annihilation of the Jewish people, and I find it hard to believe they don’t know what they’re doing,” Yeger said.

The councilman concluded, “They are using Hamas language and claiming it means something different to them.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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