The owner of a Bloor St. W catering company who is under fire for posting vitriolic Instagram comments indicating “Zionists (are) not welcome” in her shop and that they are “Nazis,” “greedy and entitled” refused to comment or back down when visited Friday.
In fact, it would seem the firestorm Kimberly Hawkins has created – most of it on social media — for her claims that Israel is a “terrorist state that kills little babies,” Zionists control the media and that Israel should be defunded (by whom I don’t know) has turned her into a both a victim and a hero amongst the radical Israel-hating left.
After Hawkins permitted me to purchase a tiny $13 Keto chicken and rapini salad — even though I told her I was a Zionist, a Jew and a journalist from the Toronto Sun — she refused to comment on the recent controversy swirling around her.
This is despite a posting on her Instagram page Thursday evening claiming she “never” wants to participate in hate and is “always open to learning.
“Taking my words out of context and reposting things without speaking with me is adding to the daily death threats and harassment I have been surviving for weeks,” she wrote.
Foodbenders on Bloor St. W. on Friday July 3, 2020. Jack Boland / Toronto Sun
Interspersed among reactions from members of the Jewish community to posts they contend are anti-Semitic, there are several commenters calling her brave and courageous for “standing up for the oppressed.”
She also referred to her belief that Canadian media and government are being influenced by Zionist forces.
“I still believe this to be true, but I sincerely apologize if the language suggested I was referring to Jewish people or hurt anyone in any way,” she wrote, the only apology provided.
She did reiterate while I was in the shop that she has a problem with Zionists but loves Jews — even though I pointed out to her that 90% of Jews are Zionists.
In fact, a 2018 Environics study showed that eight in 10 Canadian Jews have visited Israel at least once and on average five times.
The study results also indicated Canadian Jews “have a strong connection” to Israel.
Even though she refused to be interviewed, she did say that all she was doing was standing up for Palestine and for that she is being harassed and receiving death threats, refusing to acknowledge the escalating concerns of members of the Jewish community, the B’nai Brith, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs to her hurtful vitriol.
When I went in the shop for a second try for an interview, Hawkins alleged I was “threatening her” and my story would “start rumours about her” as well as lead to more death threats.
She also indicated I was “badgering” her for an interview while two others screamed at me repeatedly using the word f—-.
“You’re done here… you need to get the f—- out of here,” another woman, who would not give her name, repeatedly screamed — calling me a “hateful f—-” more than once.
She also ordered me to leave the sidewalk in front of Foodbenders and the neighbourhood.
The U.S. anti-defamation league recently published a guide to anti-Semitic tropes, listing claims that Jews have too much power; that Jews are greedy and anti-Zionism or the delegitimization of Israel among the top seven.
Daniel Koren, executive director of Hasbara Canada (an on-campus Jewish advocacy organization) said he’s contacted the Toronto police hate crimes unit about Hawkins and her postings.
He said he was “shocked” by Foodbenders Instagram page.
“She was outright bullying and intimidating and calling people out (who responded to her posts),” he said. “It’s truly vile extremism…it is anti-Semitic and vulgar.”
He said the vast majority of the Jewish community are “insulted” by her posts — which evoke Nazi imagery and indicate Zionists are not welcome (as was stated in Nazi Germany).
That notwithstanding, following my visit Hawkins doubled down with two more anti-Israel posts on Instagram.