A restaurant on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem’s city center has become the focus of frequent attacks and criminal acts by Haredi extremists, ostensibly because the establishment is not kosher, serving pork and other non-kosher foods.
The R&R Diner was opened two months ago by Reut Cohen and her partner, Romina Gonzalez, but has suffered ongoing harassment ever since.
Cohen and Gonzalez are gay and have hung a gay pride flag at the premises, something which they believe has also spurred the attacks.
Since the restaurant opened in November, it has been subject to ongoing hostile visits by Haredi extremists seemingly from the ultra-conservative, radical Haredi neighborhoods in the vicinity of Mea She’arim, as well as efforts to sabotage the business by men belonging to a nearby synagogue.
The Haredi radicals have visited frequently, including on Friday night after Shabbat begins, and have harangued and shouted at patrons.
Threats to the two women such as “We will burn you,” and “We’ll make sure you’re not here,” have also been made, while one of the glass panes of the restaurant front was smashed during another attack.
In addition, equipment and appliances such as a fumes extractor and an electric boiler, which are placed outside the kitchen, have been dismantled and stolen.
Video footage taken by Cohen shows men who appear to be from the Chabad community threatening her business.
Another video shows a Haredi man, whose face is clearly visible, trying to dismantle the fumes extractor, which was then taken apart and stolen.
Haredi vandalist trying to dismantle fumes extractor, which was then taken apart and stolen. (R&R Diner)
The men have threatened to continue their criminal vandalism against the restaurant.
Cohen says the police have responded slowly when the owners have called them during the Haredi extremists’ visits, and have not acted on the video footage she has provided them.
“I went to the police with unambiguous evidence of the damage, vandalism, and robbery of my equipment, videos of the threats against me at the restaurant, in which the images of the faces of the law breakers are clearly visible,” said Cohen.
On Wednesday night, hundreds of protesters participated in a demonstration outside the restaurant on Jaffa Street calling for greater police action over the attacks.
Jerusalem Municipal Council member for Meretz Laura Wharton was present and insisted that the rule of law must be implemented. “We cannot allow thugs to act without hindrance in this city and we must enforce the law,” she said.
“The central issue is not a question of religion but rather of defending residents and the responsibilities of the legal authorities. The moderate Haredi community has also suffered in recent months from the unrestrained, wild behavior of extremists and the paralysis of public transport in the city. We are demonstrating to show solidarity with the suffering of business owners who the extremists attack and to demand that the police use all necessary means to impose order in the city,” she said.
The police said in response that an investigation has been opened into the attacks, and that arrests have been made.