The Arab-Israeli owner of a popular tahini brand facing a boycottfor donating to an Israeli LGBTQ rights group has some friends in the Israeli diplomatic community. An executive at one of the largest Arab-owned grocery chains in Israel, Al Mashadawi, said it was considering dropping Al Arz from its 14 stores. Julia Al-Zaher, an Arab citizen of Israel, and owner of the Al-Arz Tahini company, at her son's home in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 11, 2020, made a donation to an Israeli gay rights group recently. However, missed by the media’s coverage of this controversy is that it actually reflects a growing openness towards LQBTQ people in traditionally conservative Palestinian society, particularly inside Israel. , Zaher is recognized for her philanthropy. Karawan tahini (the blue jar) being sold alongside Al Arz tahini from Nazareth, and Yona tahini from Nablus at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, May 19, 2017 An Arab Israeli-owned tahini company is facing a backlash after its owner donated to an Israeli LGBT rights group. Her husband died from a heart attack in 2003. Palestinian citizens of Israel are leading the way. Increasing public debates surrounding LGBTQ rights further reveal these fault lines. The backlash in Israel’s socially conservative Arab community was swift and unforgiving. An Arab Israeli-owned tahini company is facing a backlash after its owner donated to an Israeli LGBT rights group. Today, her company’s two plants in the Nazareth area produce a whopping 20 to 25 tons of tahini a day. These activists declined to be interviewed for the story unless the NY Times journalist agreed to not interview the Aguda, leading the journalist to reject that stipulation, and things took off on social media. , Zaher is from Nazareth and has two children. Last modified: 07-16-2020 15:01. Al Arz, based in the northern city of Nazareth, is one of Israel’s largest producers of the popular sesame spread, making an estimated one-fifth of the country’s commercially sold tahini. Then international media became involved, with some Palestinian activists accusing the New York Times of “erasing” Palestinian queer organizations, including their existing hotline service, from its coverage. She is known for her philanthropic actions to benefit women's rights, people with disabilities, and LGBT health. As I document in my recently published book, queer Palestinians are just as heterogenous as any population. If Al-Arz’s owner supports LGBT rights, it is her business.” Musa, the chef and owner of Lux, a high-end seafood restaurant in Haifa’s fashionable port, … Her company employs a large number of Arab women in addition to Jewish, Muslim, and Christian residents from Jezreel Valley. At the same time, the product has a shelf life of an entire year, no refrigeration required. , "The Tahini War: The Food at the Center of an Arab Gay Rights Battle", "Arab Philanthropy in Israel: Insights into Strategic Giving", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Julia_Zaher&oldid=984915415, Chief executives in the manufacturing industry, Pages using Infobox person with deprecated parameter home town, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Businessperson, philanthropist, schoolteacher, This page was last edited on 22 October 2020, at 21:17. Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique, Una huelga de hambre en San Isidro, la protesta que no deja dormir a La Habana, Rep. 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Zaher was a schoolteacher for decades before taking over Al Arz Tahini, her husband's tahini company in 2003. She’s the owner of the Al Arz tahini factory. Zaher catapulted the business to its current success of millions in profit and exporting globally. She’s the owner of the Al Arz tahini factory. In recent weeks, a local controversy over tahini, the sesame paste that forms the basis of hummus, LGBTQ rights, and Palestinian communal relations has made international headlines. Julia Zaher is an Israeli Arab businessperson, philanthropist, and former schoolteacher. The elected representatives of Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens of Israel in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) play important roles in enabling the Jewish Israeli majority to hear Palestinian voices. With her contributions, and those of others such as Ayman Odeh, there is a notable rise in prominent Palestinians who are committed to LGBTQ rights and progress. Her decision hit a sensitive nerve with many Palestinians, particularly after Aguda publicly expressed their appreciation for Zaher’s contribution on July 1. They recognize that there are queer Palestinians who would prefer to utilize Aguda’s hotline. Activists called for a boycott of her company, Al Arz. A mother, widow, and former teacher, she took over the family business in 2013 after her husband passed away from a heart attack. Other queer Palestinians expressed their understanding of Zaher’s decision, believing that having an additional hotline is beneficial. The thick paste they make from Ethiopian sesame seeds is nearly ubiquitous at supermarkets and restaurants in Israel and is exported to 18 countries, including the United States. Al Arz/Facebook. Samar Hazboun/The New York Times. In their investigation, they examined about 10 different Tahini manufacturers and found Tahini Al Arz to be the leader in nutritional values and in meeting the strict quality standards set forth by the health ministry and food industry in Israel. Zaher was lauded by several politicians and LGBT rights activists and criticized for the donation, with critics claiming the action may lead to "normalization" of a LGBT lifestyle. Videos circulated on Facebook and Twitter of Arab shopkeepers pulling Al Arz’s tahini from their shelves and throwing it in the garbage. — Dr. Sa’ed Atshan is Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College. © Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2020. A mother, widow, and former teacher, she took over the family business in 2013 after her husband passed away from a heart attack. As for the tahini tempest, Zaher has heard from queer Palestinians who appreciate her solidarity. She has donated towards women's rights and people with disabilities. Some queer Palestinian activists publicly criticized Zaher for supporting an Israeli organization and not donating the funds to an established hotline run by Al-Qaws and Aswat, the two major queer Palestinian organizations. She is owner and CEO of Al Arz Tahini, a tahini manufacturing company. She is also a philanthropist, with contributions to causes such as disability services, women’s organizations, and most recently, LGBTQ social welfare. Many of these individuals also recognize that Palestinian citizens of Israel often have no choice but to utilize services from Israeli institutions, such as government agencies, universities, hospitals, and employers; they do not believe in an exception prohibiting LGBTQ Palestinians from accessing resources within queer Israeli organizations.