Local and national elected officials denounced pro-Palestine protesters who on Sunday night targeted an Israeli restaurant in Center City as antisemitic.
The demonstrators, as part of a larger “Flood Philly for Gaza” march, stopped in front of Goldie falafel shop near 19th and Sansom streets and chanted “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” according to a video posted to Twitter that had generated more 25 million views as of Monday afternoon.
Goldie is part of CookNSolo, a restaurant group that is owned by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook and also includes Zahav, Federal Donuts, Laser Wolf and other eateries. Both men are Jewish, and Solomonov was born in Israel.
“Tonight in Philly, we saw a blatant act of antisemitism — not a peaceful protest,” Gov. Josh Shapiro said Sunday night on X, formerly known as Twitter. “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, who is Jewish, added that he reached out to Solomonov to express his support. Mayor Jim Kenney said the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is reviewing the incident.
“People have the right to peacefully protest, but targeting a restaurant simply because it is Jewish-owned is abhorrent and antisemitic,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey posted on social media. “I’m reaching out to local law enforcement to make sure any crimes committed are investigated and prosecuted.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia also condemned the Philly Palestine Coalition – one of the groups that organized the protest – for targeting Goldie. Federation leaders, in a statement, called “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.”
PPC, which previously issued a call for supporters to boycott “‘Israeli’ food and Zionist businesses,” including Goldie, defended its decision in a lengthy statement posted Monday night on Instagram.
“Shockingly, whole sectors of western society not only remain silent in the face of genocide, but are actually cheering it on and financially supporting it,” the statement reads. “Michael Solomonov is one such person. He has made a handsome living passing off Palestinian and other Arab cuisine as ‘Israeli food,’ the proceeds of which are now supporting the very army that is enacting Israel’s genocidal bombing of Palestinians.”
CookNSolo in October donated a day’s worth of sales from Zahav, Goldie, K’Far and Laser Wolf – just over $100,000 – to United Hatzalah, a nonprofit providing emergency medical services in Israel. PPC said the organization works in conjunction with Israeli forces.
PPC’s statement also blamed elected officials and the media for shifting focus from the situation in Gaza to a brief demonstration outside Goldie.
CookNSolo declined to comment on Sunday night’s protest.
Authorities said the “Flood Philly for Gaza” rally began at around 4 p.m. at Rittenhouse Square, and police estimated the crowd at 400 or 500 people. Demonstrators marched into University City and joined a smaller UC Townhomes gathering near 40th and Markets streets.
Pro-Palestine graffiti marked multiple buildings along Sansom Street near Goldie, and police said a TD Bank branch on the 3700 block of Walnut Street and a Starbucks on the 3400 block of Walnut Street were vandalized. A police car was also vandalized at 18th and Walnut streets, authorities said.
No one was immediately arrested, though investigators are looking through surveillance footage to potentially identify those involved, according to the PPD.