Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets in Center City Philadelphia Sunday night, shouting their opposition to Israel, calling for “intifada,” and demanding a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Some went to the University of Pennsylvania campus, a site of earlier demonstrations. Others headed to Goldie, a Jewish-owned restaurant serving Israeli food on Samson Street.
They chanted, “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.”
The protest was organized by the Philly Palestine Coalition, which earlier this year called for a boycott of Zionist-owned businesses, including Goldie and other restaurants also owned by Israeli-born chef Mike Solomonov.
The protest drew quick condemnation from Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.). “Tonight in Philly, we saw a blatant act of antisemitism — not a peaceful protest. A restaurant was targeted and mobbed because its owner is Jewish and Israeli. This hate and bigotry is reminiscent of a dark time in history,” Shapiro posted on X.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) added his own post. “They could be protesting Hamas. They could be protesting Hamas’ systematic rape of Israeli women and girls or demanding the remaining hostages be immediately released. Instead, they targeted a Jewish restaurant. It’s pathetic and rank antisemitism.”
The protest in Philadelphia is just one of many from pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists, some openly antisemitic, in the wake of Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 terror attack carried out by Hamas. It claimed the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, injured thousands more, and resulted in some 240 people taken hostage.
Rabbi Lance Sussman, author and rabbi emeritus of Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, said he supports free speech. “However, targeting individuals and businesses solely based on their personal identities borders on harassment and a violation of their rights. There are many ‘public squares’ and spaces in our area to share one’s message. Good citizenship is a multidimensional responsibility.”
“Hamas seeks to carry out a genocide against Israel—that is their explicit intent, and intention is one of the two criteria that the Jewish refugee from Nazi Europe included when coining the term genocide to describe the Holocaust. Were Hamas to surrender, there would be no more Palestinian bloodshed precisely because Israel has no genocidal intentions. The perversion of language and ethics is truly Orwellian,” said Rav Shai Cherry, senior rabbi at Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park.
Michael Solomonov, a chef and restaurateur who co-owns Goldie and several other Philadelphia eateries, declined to comment.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said, “Additionally, I called Michael Solomonov this morning to share that I’m buying lunch for my SEPA team at Goldie in solidarity with him and his team.”
Dave McCormick, Casey’s Republican opponent, said, “This ‘protest’ is despicable — antisemitism, plain and simple. I call on everyone who cares about our Jewish community to support Goldie’s. There are more supporters who care than antisemites who hate.”
Shapiro added, “I’ve communicated tonight with @Mike_Solomonov and his team at Goldie to share our support, and Lori and I look forward to breaking bread there with them again soon.”
In the aftermath of the October attack, Solomonov, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel, donated a day of the proceeds from all his restaurants to the Friends of @unitedhatzalahofisrael, a volunteer emergency medical services program in Israel.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia also condemned the protests. “As we have said before, this tactic only serves to intimidate, isolate, and scapegoat Israeli and Jewish businesses, further contributing to the alarming levels of hate against Jews nationwide,” it said in a statement. “We stand with Gov. Shapiro and other local officials in denouncing this protest for what it is: blatant antisemitism. We call on the community to counter this hatred by increasing their support to Jewish-owned and pro-Israel businesses by purchasing gift cards from them as gifts for the holidays.”
The Philadelphia Free Palestine Coalition announced Sunday’s protest on its Facebook page.
Bryan Fuller wrote on it to the group: “My two best friends are Islamic. My husband is Hindu. I have hundreds of Jewish and Islamic friends. We are celebrating my husband’s 46th birthday at a restaurant owned by an Islamic couple so our two best friends can eat halal meat. I am disgusted by your actions last night. I have always supported Gaza and Israel. Your HATE is unbearable to watch. As a devout liberal, you do not represent me and the majority. Israel is often wrong. So is Gaza. The hate you showed last night towards a Jewish business is disgusting. I would NEVER target an independent business because of the acts of people I don’t agree with. I will personally frequent every establishment you attempt to destroy. So will my Islamic, Jewish, and Christian friends. Hate has no home!”