Back in August last year, Reem Assil started a project on KickStarter to create “a restaurant and home to connect people across cultures & generations through the warmth of Arab bread and hospitality.”
In 40 days of fundraising, she had 376 backers pledging $50,100 to help bring the project to life.
Here’s the end result:
Can’t you just feel the “warmth of Arab hospitality” here?
Most reports on the restaurant I have seen ignore her murderous legacy, with most not even mentioning the mural.
Some, like this, paint her as some sort of friendly angel staring down:
A mural by the Trust Your Struggle collective features Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh smiling down on the kitchen and the dining room, with a portrait of Oscar Grant affixed to her keffiyeh like a campaign button.
This puff piece on the restaurant starts off that way, but an update is added at the end.
Editor’s Note: After this piece was published on May 17, several Berkeleyside readers commented and emailed us about Reem Assil’s choice to include the mural of controversial figure, Rasmea Odeh on her restaurant’s wall. Odeh was convicted for participation in the 1969 terrorist bombings in Jerusalem, which killed two Israeli students from Hebrew University. Odeh spent 10 years in an Israeli prison before she was released (along with 77 others) in exchange with the PFLP for an Israeli soldier. In 1995, she immigrated to Chicago through Jordan, and in 2014, was convicted of immigration fraud for failing to disclose the conviction on her visa application. Odeh is scheduled for deportation this August.
We reached out to Assil for comment on why she chose Odeh as the subject of her mural:
“Three and a half years ago, the [U.S.] government was doing a sweep of Palestinian activists; trying to take civil cases and try them as terrorist cases. [Odeh] is the final frontier of that,” Assil said. She believes Odeh was a political prisoner and that she was sexually tortured into a confession, a piece of Odeh’s story that has been disputed by prosecutors.
For Assil, who is of Palestinian-Syrian descent, “[Odeh] embodies the resilience of Arab women fighting for justice in this country. She is an elder to a lot of us younger women who are activists and want to do right among our community,” said Assil, who compares Odeh to a modern day Malcom X. In addition to serving as a figurehead for pro-Palestinian activists, Odeh has also garnered support from humanitarian activists and members of the Black Lives Matter Movement. “[The mural] pays our respect to people like her who have had to endure,” said Assil.
When asked why she would bring such a divisive figure into a bakery that is meant to be a sanctuary space, Assil responded: “She is divisive because she’s an advocate for Palestinian self-determination and anti-Israeli government occupation. Any time you put up a Palestinian figure it’s going to be divisive.
“These are the kinds of conversations that we’re willing to have,” said Assil. “It may be hard but it’s the path we have to take if we want to be a principled business. If it’s not folks like us who are pushing the envelope then we’re not doing our job.”
No, she is “divisive” because she is a convicted terrorist murderer! Shame on Assil for defending and idolizing her.
I am writing this post about Reem’s because I assume when you Google Reem’s Bakery, this post will appear near the top of the search results. Hopefully, this will make people decide not to eat under the watchful gaze of a convicted terrorist.
You can also leave your reviews on Yelp, Google, and their Facebook page – although expect Assil to once again instruct her supporters to ‘game the system’ as they did last time people objecting to the support of terrorists left negative ratings and comments.
Hat tip: StandWithUs
Update: Time to play hardball.
— Ozraeli Dave (@Israellycool) June 19, 2017
— Ozraeli Dave (@Israellycool) June 20, 2017