“Gazala’s,” a Druze restaurant situated in New York City, has been subjected to a series of vandalism attacks, as reported by various media outlets throughout the week. The attacks are believed to be linked to the owner’s expressed support for Israel.
Gazala Halabi, the owner of the restaurant, disclosed to Side Dish that her establishment experienced a second incident of vandalism on Monday, with the phrase “Free Palestine” graffitied onto the restaurant’s bathroom.
The New York Post highlighted that the restaurant prominently displays both the Israeli and Druze flags at its entrance. Halabi claimed that the visibility of these flags has led to incidents where pro-Palestinian customers either choose to avoid the restaurant altogether or express their dissent by leaving when they notice Israel featured on the map in the menu. The situation underscores the challenges faced by the restaurant due to geopolitical sentiments and raises concerns about the impact of such incidents on businesses that become unintentionally entangled in political controversies.
Gazala’s, a New York City establishment, has been known for serving hummus and other traditional Middle Eastern and Druze dishes since its inception in 2007. Notably, the New York Post has highlighted that Gazala’s is likely the only Druze restaurant in the entire city.
The owner, Gazala Halabi, originally from Haifa, was in Israel visiting family on October 7 when Hamas initiated a large-scale terror attack against Israel, resulting in a devastating loss of over 1200 lives. The personal connection to the tragic events adds a poignant layer to her perspective on the subsequent vandalism incidents.
Expressing her frustration and disbelief, Halabi conveyed to the New York Post, “It’s like someone entering your home.
Halabi further raised thought-provoking questions about the global response to terrorism, asking how other countries would react if faced with similar attacks targeting innocent citizens, including babies and children. She stressed the importance of international understanding and solidarity in the face of such traumatic events, drawing parallels to the collective shock experienced during the September 11 attacks.
The emotional impact of the events in Israel resonates deeply with Halabi, who likened the atmosphere to that of September 11, emphasizing the profound shock and the difficulty in processing the scale of the tragedy. This context sheds light on the owner’s perspective and the broader implications of the vandalism incidents on Gazala’s, extending beyond the immediate business concerns to encompass a complex mix of personal, geopolitical, and global sensitivities.
About the Restaurant – Gazala’s!
The restaurant’s website prominently features the history of the establishment and its owner. Gazala Halabi, the creator of Gazala’s Restaurant, proudly embraces her identity as an Israeli Druze. After relocating from Israel to New York in 2001, Gazala initially provided desserts and home-cooked foods, eventually realizing her dream of opening her first restaurant in 2007.
Gazala’s culinary approach involves crafting all dishes from scratch, utilizing simple, fresh, and high-quality ingredients. She imports herbs, spices, and extra virgin olive oil directly from her homeland. Channeling the pride and culinary spirit of her grandmother, Gazala endeavors to recreate the flavorful home-cooked meals that were an integral part of her upbringing.