(JTA) — A Michigan restaurateur said he will “step away” from opening a Dearborn branch of a burger chain founded in Israel following boycott threats.
Sam Zahr will open two other Burgerim restaurants, in nearby Oak Park and Redford Township. The Lebanese American told the Detroit Free Press that he will not open in Dearborn after his children were bullied and he received threatening messages. Facebook messages about the opening included calls for a boycott.
Burgerim opened its first location in Tel Aviv and can be found throughout Israel. Burgerim is the plural form of burger in Hebrew.
The company, now headquartered in California, has franchises throughout the United States and in Europe. More than a dozen of the U.S. franchises are halal. None of the U.S. franchises on its website are listed as kosher.
Among his more vocal opponents is Amer Zahr, who is no relation. “Obviously the issue of Palestine is near and dear to the people of Dearborn. I wish that he had done more research and understood the sensitivity before bringing it into our community,” Amer Zahr said.
Sam Zahr lives in Dearborn. The Lebanese-born Muslim American doesn’t see the connection between his business and the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“To me, a burger is not gonna make a difference. I don’t care where it comes from, we’re in America,” Sam Zahr said.