PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Conflict Kitchen reopened Wednesday after a death threat forced them to close last week.
At the kiosk window, Isaac Beachey began taking orders at 11 a.m.
The kitchen’s mission for the past four years has been to showcase the cuisine and perspectives of countries at odds with U.S. policy – like Cuba, Iran and Venezuela. This fall they started serving Palestinian food; and last Friday, a letter containing death threats was delivered.
The kitchen closed as a precaution. And today, a police presence was obvious at the reopening.
Conflict Kitchen co-directors, Jon Rubin and Dawn Wasleski, say security is up.
“We’re excited to reopen. It’s been amazing the support we’re gotten,” said Rubin.
The Kitchen is one project of the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie-Mellon University. It is 95 percent self-sustaining, with the remaining five percent of funding from foundations.
But it wasn’t just the falafel and fatoosh drawing the long lines at lunch.
“I think that what the Conflict Kitchen is doing is fantastic. They inform people about issues otherwise unknown in the United States,” says Brianna Walker, a Pitt grad student.
And Omar Abuhejleh, a Palestinian-American, says, “I think it’s really important that the Conflict Kitchen has created a space where we can have an exchange of ideas.”
It was really the hand-out that comes with the take-out food that became the focus of the controversy. It features the opinions of Palestinians living on the West Bank and in the United States.
“Putting the viewpoints of Palestinians in a public space, we’re promoting understanding of Palestinian viewpoints,” says Rubin.
“How can you have dialogue when you only represent one side’s narrative?” Gregg Roman, of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said.
Roman says four months ago they approached the Conflict Kitchen to be part of programs on Israeli-Palestinian issues offered in addition to the menu. They were rejected.
“It’s political testimony, and in doing so, we would expect them to have the broadest range of opinion available, which is not the case right now,” he said.
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