Mitsuharu Tsumura, chef at the world-class Maido restaurant in Lima, Peru, was due to cook in Tel Aviv between 5 and 10 November.
In an email sent to activists in Peru and seen by The Electronic Intifada, a representative for Tsumura confirmed that he will not be going to Tel Aviv.
Tickets for meals cooked by Tsumura are no longer being sold on the Round Tables website.
Boost to BDS
Tsumura’s withdrawal follows that of Irish chef JP McMahon earlier this month.
“We congratulate chef Mitsuharu Tsumura for heeding our appeals and canceling his participation in the Round Tables propaganda festival in Israel,” said Irene Abugattas of Movimiento Boicot Israel–BDS Perú, a group that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign for Palestinian rights.
Abugattas called Tsumura’s decision a “boost” for the BDS movement in Peru and for “our efforts to end Latin American complicity in ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.”
Backed by Israeli government
Starting next week, about a dozen international chefs will be flown to Israel by its foreign ministry to take part in the so-called Round Tables, where they will cook at local restaurants for a well-heeled clientele.
“Round Tables – dubbed ‘gastro-diplomacy’ – is part of the Israeli government’s ‘Brand Israel’ propaganda campaign, launched in 2005 to distract the world’s attention from Israel’s oppression and denial of Palestinian human rights through the use of culture and arts,” the chefs wrote in their open letter to Round Tables participants.
As well as being backed by the Israeli government, Round Tables is sponsored by American Express, French vodka brand Grey Goose and Dan Hotels, which operates on occupied Palestinian land.
Attacks on farmers
Palestinians have been especially critical of the Round Tables’ “farm to table” theme this year, at a time when Palestinian farmers face intensified threats to their lives and livelihoods.
“The Round Tables festival is taking place while the Israeli military and Israeli settlers illegally living on stolen Palestinian land attack Palestinians during their annual olive harvest,” said Zaid Shoaibi, from PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
“We are pleased that two chefs have canceled this year and urge those still taking part to follow suit or risk permanently tainting the reputation of their restaurants with Israel’s regime of military occupation and apartheid.”
Activists are urging people to contact the chefs who are still heading for Tel Aviv and are encouraging the use of the hashtag #ApartheidRoundTables.