I hate to be the guy who insists on comparing the real world with someone he saw on television, but after hearing about a growing brouhaha between elements of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and a local restaurant, it’s hard not to be reminded of an infamous episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
For those of you not familiar with Conflict Kitchen, it’s a restaurant whose cuisine changes regularly on a three-to-five month rotation, but always features food from a country with which the US is currently in some sort of conflict (hence the name). In the past, they’ve served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela.
Okay, cool. So what’s the problem?
[Conflict Kitchen has] chosen to feature Palestinian food, and parts of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community depressingly (if predictably) are taking issue with that decision.
Evidently the restaurant kicked off their latest menu offerings with an event with speakers and photography focusing on the Palestinian national narrative. Clearly, that means the Jews need to get involved, right?
As Philly Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council director Gregg Roman explained to the Post-Gazette:
“Conflict Kitchen’s focus on countries in conflict is honorable, but Palestine is not in conflict with the U.S. The restaurant is stirring up conflict for the sake of trying to be relevant.”
Mr. Roman has asked that [Conflict Kitchen owner] Mr. Rubin invite his organization to the table to participate in the discussion.
Whether or not Palestine is “in conflict with the US” aside (and boy am I not touching that question with a ten foot cattle prod) it sure sounds like if anyone is stirring up conflict in an effort to appear relevant, it’s those in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, who think it’s worth their communal time and effort to chime in on what food a restaurant serves. Is it really that important to them that every.single.instance of the word “Palestinian” be followed with a Jewish response? Have they petitioned HBO to add a communally sponsored rebuttal anytime the network re-airs Curb‘s “Palestinian Chicken” episode?
Here’s what I propose: Three to five months from now, when it’s time for the Conflict Kitchen to reveal their next edible offerings, how about they serve something native to Pittsburgh. Sure, the city may not technically be at odds with the United States, but they definitely have enough of their own conflict to fill a menu.