Three workers at a Northern California cafe – seen in a viral video denying a Jewish woman access to a restroom with anti-Israel graffiti – are no longer employed there, the owners said. restaurant.
The video was filmed at Farley’s East in Oakland, where the woman wanted to take photos of provocative doodles.she found objectionable, leading to a confrontation that the owners called “shocking and unacceptable.”
Images from the bathroom showed “Zionism = fascism” written on a mirror frame and “Your neutrality/apathy enables genocide” scrawled on a changing table.
When the woman asked to go inside to take photos, she was blocked by at least three employees, a man and two women, who told her to get out.
“I know Israel loves to take private property and say it’s theirs, but we have to go,” chef Jesse Turner could be heard saying.
A woman,whom Turner identified to NBC News on Monday as the manager,said, “This is private property, I need you to leave.” »
Workers eventually allowed the customer to return to the restroom to take the footage, as the man appeared to shout:“History did not begin in 1948, ma’am,” Turner said, referring to the year Israel was founded.
Turner, 29, and one of the employees added moments later: “Free Palestine.”
In a statement released Saturday, Farley’s owners, Amy and Chris Hillyard, apologized and said they should have taken stronger action sooner.
“What began as a civil dialogue between our staff and a Jewish customer escalated into a shocking and unacceptable situation,” the owners said. “Events like this instill fear in the Jewish community and perpetuate the rise of anti-Semitism in our community and around the world. We do not tolerate any behavior at Farley’s that makes people feel unwanted or unsafe. »
The employees were “disrespectful and hurtful,” the Hillyards said, without identifying them.
“Because this act was not consistent with our values, the employees involved in the incident are no longer employed by Farley’s,” the statement continued. “While all employees have the right to have different points of view, they do not have the right to express themselves at work in a way that is disrespectful or hurtful to anyone. »
Turner said he, the manager and a barista — the three workers seen in the video at the bathroom door — were all fired, and four other Farley’s employees have since resigned in solidarity.
The widely seen footage since last week was filmed 10 minutes after the woman challenged staff and blocked workers at the drinks counter, at the height of the Dec. 3 lunch rush, Turner said.
The graffiti in the bathroom had been visible for weeks and the customer had been given an email address to raise her concerns with management, according to the former chef, but she continued to challenge workers to debate it.
“She was harassing and berating the staff,” Turner told NBC News. “We said its owners were aware of the graffiti and it was their responsibility to manage the facilities. »
The fired employee does not regret expressing support for the Palestinians, but believes he should have done better to keep his cool in the moment.
“Those 10 minutes (before the video resumed) were very stressful,” Turner said. “I always try to push the boundaries of other people’s visions in the most human way possible. What I would have done differently is that I wouldn’t have degenerated by doing it. »
The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has had far-reaching implications in the United States, with an apparent increase in incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the country.
University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned over the weekend after drawing heavy criticism for dodging a question ata congressional hearing on anti-Semitism on campus.
David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.
Maya Brown contributed.
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