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Feb-27-2010 21:16TweetFollow @OregonNews
Palestinian Cafe Owner Faces Closure and Death Threats for 'No Uniform' PolicyTim King Salem-News.com
Your help is needed to save this cafe, right now, please read the update...
(HAIFA / SALEM) - UPDATE: This particular cafe owner wanted an atmosphere of peace in his cafe. Now the Mayor of Haifa has issued an order to close this popular restaurant. A young 20-year-old soldier went in and was told that if he changed out of military garb he could come back. Instead of honoring the dress code, he started an international incident. Literally. NOW, the municipality is trying to shut the cafe down TODAY while the cafe owner IS GETTING DEATH THREATS and THREATS THAT THE ISRAELIS WILL KILL HIS FAMILY AND BULLDOZE HIS FAMILY'S HOUSE JUST TO MAKE HIM CRY SO THAT HE WILL APOLOGIZE TO THE ISRAELIS. This is very serious, your help is needed; please join the facebook group now. It will help. 5,000 members are needed TODAY. PLEASE PASS IT ON.
In spite of all the hardship, Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied territories find ways to survive. Sometimes, amidst the political and ethnic tension and fear, they even find ways to live well. This may be a fair description for a restaurant/cafe in Haifa called 'Azad'.
Haifa is the only city in North Israel known for having a peaceful co-existance between Arabs and Jews. They seem to mix together fine and live more or less, side by side. Haifa is also the home to the Bahai World Center and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a history dating back to the biblical times.
In Arabic, Azad means 'The Free Person' or simply, 'freedom'. "This is a very peaceful place which allows people of all races or religions to enter. There have not been any problems," a source there tells Salem-News.
In fact, Azad's is so resolved to having a peaceful atmosphere, that the place has a policy banning people in military uniforms. This is an effort to keep things in perspective, and also because in Israel, soldiers in uniform are armed with assault weapons. The policy applies to all military and security uniforms, not just Israel's. Even local police have been turned away, but they're all welcome to return in civilian attire.
"This is not a city where you see a lot of people in uniform," Salem-News.com Photographer/Reporter Dexter Phoenix said. He's spent quite a bit of time in Haifa, and he was there in 2006 during the fighting with Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.
"You don't see too many IDF or police in Haifa, it is a pretty calm place, a port city."
But Azad's owner is watching Israel's version of freedom strike the wall.
An impatient 20-year-old soldier is bringing major heat down on Azad's because they wouldn't serve him in uniform. It is their existing policy, and even in Israel businesses can establish and maintain their own policies.
As a U.S. Marine, I was never allowed to wear my combat uniform in a public business; to me this is not a strange idea.
This very cool restaurant/cafe with an air of peace, is facing closure, violence, even death threats now, because one seemingly spoiled young Israeli soldier with family connections to government, couldn't enter and force a violation of Azad's no uniform policy which applies to all uniforms, not just those worn by Israeli soldiers.
The soldier was quoted saying, "I was shocked. At first, I thought I didn’t hear her well, or did not understand, but then she repeated herself with the same sentence – 'I’m sorry, but we do not let people in with military uniforms'".
The soldier became irate and called his father who in turn called the police and ordered a police car to the scene.
When the Haifa Police came, they talked to the waitress who again, explained the stated policy, "We do not allow security forces in uniform in the restaurant".
The officer told the soldier that the café was not violating any law and there was nothing he could do. He was not attacked physically, and therefore could not file a complaint.
He went on to say that "If that is their policy, then that is their policy. It is their place and they set the rules regarding dress code policy."
You can do the same thing in the United States. There are gray areas, and a history of racist businesses in the U.S. refusing to serve black people well into the 1960's, possibly still in some places today. But it is still very common to see restaurant policies including coat and tie, this sort of thing. Places are essentially allowed to establish the atmosphere they are seeking.
But this Israeli Defense Force soldier was heard stating, "I volunteer with the military and cannot absorb what happened here. It makes no sense in the State of Israel that such a thing can happen."
That is not much of a claim in a country that has a forced draft and mandatory military service for every adult, male or female.
There are plenty of places all over Israel that encourage the IDF soldiers to come inside. After all, it is a purely militaristic state where all of life revolves around this war-based lifestyle. But some places want to perhaps let people escape the idea that they are in a place where guns rule the day in the name of God.
The Azad Restaurant's owner said the "Problem that is occurring in this case was because of the uniform, (they) are incompatible with local values and can cause inconvenience to customers. We made it clear to the soldier and we repeatedly declared that we have no personal problem with him and he is invited to stay with us without uniform".
Haifa's Police Commander, Ahuva Tomer, confirmed the incident, and that there is no law which can be enforced. Police sources also talked about a policeman in uniform having the same issue at Azad's a few months ago, only he didn't try to turn a nation against the place.
Our source in Israel said, "The soldier made a very big deal about it and called the press, and now it is all over the media with a faction of the Israeli public wanting to have the restaurant closed down. Someone even went so far as to start an online petition to close the place down." It is claimed that if they can get enough signatures, the Israeli government is on the record as saying it will shut it down.
It gets worse... The Israeli soldier, along with others, is trying to get the IDF itself involved. People are commenting on the news sites that the "owner of the restaurant should be killed and the restaurant burned down." They are also calling for live demonstrations against the restaurant.
The good news is that there are many Israelis who believe it is a good thing that the owner did not allow the uniformed soldiers inside. There is a growing consensus that Israel is too militaristic and that more places should take the stance that guns should not be allowed everywhere.
Some even commented that it is very arrogant of the Israelis to be upset about this, when in actual fact the Palestinians live with this sort of thing every single day at the whim of Israelis themselves.
It is such a tragedy, and it makes the idea of peace seem so far away. This is not a problem the Palestinians are creating, but it is being labeled that by the Zionists who run media groups all over Israel, the U.S. and the U.K.
This is the philosophy that Jewish people are given Israel by God as "The Promised Land". People have died by the hundreds of thousands over it. It leads to what is undeniably the greatest entitlement issue that any nation faces. The United States taxpayers are the ones who pay the bills for it. The Arabs pay in terms of blood, flesh, segregation, theft and humiliation.
All the while the Israeli and American press either directly insinuate or suggest that the Arab people are terrorists, when nothing could be farther from the truth.
It has been proven time and time again, through peaceful protests in places like Billn' where every week, right on schedule, Palestinians carrying nothing more than flags and signs, are routinely attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces.
And all the while, this ridiculous story is taking place in one of the most precious and historic places on the earth.
"Ever since the Bronze Age, Haifa has been conquered and ruled by the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians and the British. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the City has been governed by the Municipality of Haifa," our contact there explained.
Maybe if there is any truth to Israel truly seeking peace, somebody in their government will put their foot down over the objections of this 'indignant' soldier. Maybe they will do the right thing and track down the cowards writing death threats on the Internet. Maybe the plight of Azad's will stay on the media radar and lead to pressure on Israel to stop allowing individuals with attitudes to derail peace where it does exist.
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
He holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu, India.
The notorious list comprising Tim's ancestors includes Pedro de Alvarado, the lieutenant of Hernando Cortez of Spain; King Phillip IV, Eleanor of Aquitaine and William the Conqueror. Perhaps most interestingly, King John; the dark force in the story Robin Hood, and also the last Spanish governor of California, a real person fictionalized as the arch rival of the character in Zorro, are in reality both Tim's multiple-great grandfathers.
Others include a Confederate officer in the U.S. Civil War and a decorated 'hero' of the Mexican-American War and the so-called 'Indian Wars'. In fact on the east coast, Tim's lineage with the Slaughter and King families, pre-dates the Mayflower and several members of his family were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. He says his family's past; some of which is very dark; some quite chivalrous, presents a certain responsibility, and that in part drives his desire to see that people in today's world are not exploited or allowed to suffer in silence as victims of Human Rights violations, as people of previous times were.
In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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