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Coffee Shop Staff Fired for Denying Bathroom Access to Jewish Customer in California

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A front-view picture of the Farley's East Coffeehouse.
Source: Cbsnews/Twitter

Owners of the Northern California coffee house announced that three employees, captured in a viral video denying a Jewish woman access to a bathroom with anti-Israeli graffiti, are no longer working at the establishment.

The incident occurred at Farley’s East in Oakland. The woman, wanting to photograph objectionable graffiti, sparked a confrontation deemed “shocking and unacceptable” by the owners.

The bathroom footage revealed messages like “Zionism = fascism” on a mirror frame and “Your neutrality/apathy is enabling genocide” on a diaper-changing station.

ALSO READ: “Resign in Disgrace!” Ivy League Presidents Under Fire for Their Testimony on Antisemitism

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When the woman requested to re-enter for photographs, at least three employees, including a man and two women, obstructed her, instructing her to leave. Line chef Jesse Turner said, “I know Israel loves taking private property and saying it’s their own, but we gotta head.”

The woman, identified by Turner as the manager on Monday, stated, “It is private property; I do need you to leave.”

The workers eventually permitted the customer back into the restroom to capture the images. During this, a man shouted, “History didn’t start in 1948, lady.”

POLL — Is Systemic Racism a Significant Problem That Requires Reform in Policing and Other Areas?

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Turner, 29, and a female employee added, “Free Palestine,” moments later. In a statement posted on Saturday, Farley’s owners, Amy and Chris Hillyard, apologized, acknowledging they should have taken more forceful action earlier.

“What began as a civil dialogue between our staff and a Jewish customer escalated into a situation that was shocking and unacceptable,” said the owners. “Events like this strike 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 unwelcome or unsafe.”

The staff was “disrespectful and hurtful,” according to the Hillyards, who did not name them. The footage, widely seen since last week, was shot 10 minutes after the woman had been challenging staff and blocking workers from the drink service counter at the height of the December 3 lunch rush, Turner said.

ALSO READ: Teacher’s Union Rep. Bags Suspension after Making Antisemitic Comments on Social Media

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The bathroom graffiti had been present for weeks. The customer was given a management email to address her concerns, as the former line chef mentioned.

However, she continued challenging workers to engage in a debate. The terminated employee doesn’t regret expressing support for Palestinians but acknowledges he should have maintained composure better in that moment.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has had far-reaching implications in the United States. This has resulted in a noticeable rise in incidents of domestic anti-semitism and Islamophobia. 

Over the weekend, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned. Her resignation came after facing intense criticism for avoiding a question about campus anti-semitism during a congressional hearing.

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