Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen to reopen with Palestinian food; police investigate death threat

A takeout restaurant that serves food from countries with which the United States is at odds plans to reopen as police investigate a death threat that prompted its closure.

Conflict Kitchen, a kiosk in Pittsburgh's Schenley Plaza, announced on its website that it will reopen Wednesday.

The restaurant closed Saturday after police received a threatening letter. Public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler hasn't specified when the letter was received, but she said police were investigating it.

The takeout cafe was designed and run by artists hoping to start conversations with customers about countries in conflict with the United States. It opened in 2010 and has served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

It recently started serving Palestinian food and drew criticism from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, B'nai B'rith and other groups. The critics contend that Palestine isn't in conflict with the United States and that food wrappers that talk about Palestinian customs and politics are biased toward the Palestinian view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The kitchen has commented in blog posts that it has previously presented the viewpoints of the other groups whose food it serves and that it believes that "presenting the viewpoints of Palestinians promotes understanding of Palestinians."

The co-owners, Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, have declined to comment beyond their blog posts, but apparently they do not plan to back down.

"We greatly appreciate all the incredible support we have received during our closure, and we are eager to reopen our Palestinian iteration," they posted on the eatery's Facebook page.

The food projects are accompanied by public forums, events and reading materials about the culture whose food is being celebrated.


Online: http://www.conflictkitchen.org