Palestinian Cuisine Causes Conflict With Jews in Pittsburgh

Restaurant called Conflict Kitchen serves dishes from nations with which the U.S. is in conflict - Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

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Conflict Kitchen in its Palestinian incarnation.
Conflict Kitchen in its Palestinian incarnation.Credit: Screenshot

The Pittsburgh Jewish community is up in arms about a local restaurant that has begun featuring Palestinian food on its menu, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

The CBS report was based on original reporting from The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh.

Conflict Kitchen serves dishes from nations with which the United States is in conflict. In the past, it has served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

The restaurant was the outcome of a desire to draw attention to cuisine options from countries that aren’t always represented in the U.S. National menus are typically rotated every three to five months.

But the restaurant's decision to offer a menu of Palestinian food seems to have upset the local Jewish community, according to CBS.

“Conflict Kitchen’s focus on countries in conflict is honorable, but Palestine is not in conflict with the U.S.," Gregg Roman, Director of the Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "The restaurant is stirring up conflict for the sake of trying to be relevant.”

Jon Rubin, one of the founders of Conflict Kitchen, rejected the criticism, saying the menu seems to be very popular with the restaurant's customers.

“We’ve had 300 people each day, Monday and Tuesday, we opened on Monday and people are super excited and we’ve been very fortunate we’ve got a great base of customers who like to come to all the versions we do,” Rubin said.

The idea behind the restaurant, Rubin said, was to "fill what we felt was a void in Pittsburgh. So we started thinking about what can we serve and how can we have a conversation that’s not already here.

"We realized there has never been a Persian, or an Afghan or a Venezuelan restaurant in the city and that not only have those restaurants never existed but, those communities actually exist here.”

Rubin said the restaurant was meant to generate conversations about different cultures and help to learn and respect the influences of others. He said he wanted people to be able to have a different perspective on countries that "we either politically or from the media view as enemies.”

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