According to a New York City restaurateur, a common chant regularly bellowed at anti-Israel rallies around the world means “just simply freedom and rights to the Palestinian people between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.”
Abdul Elenani, the owner of the Ayat Middle Eastern restaurant, insists that his choice to include “from the river to the sea” over his fish offerings does not suggest antisemitism or a call to destroy the Jewish state.
“We’re just against the Zionist mentality of, like, eliminate or flatten Gaza now,” he said. “Our neighbors are Jews, our friends are Jews; we work with Jewish people all day every day. We do not hate Jewish people. It’s the opposite. Judaism and Islam; they are the two most similar religions.”
The Ditmas Park Facebook page first noticed the genocidal phrase. A member of the group told The Daily Beast, which first reported on the offensive menu, that “the best analogy that I could think [of] is if a restaurant that had southern food had the Confederate flag on their menu, and tried to spin it as ‘Oh, this is just Southern pride.’ And it’s like, you know, Don’t be coy.”
The restaurant responded on Instagram in response to a wave of condemnation that “we share 95% of our principles and values” with Jews, and that the phrase “means nothing.”