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Pro-Palestinian Protesters Harass NYC’s Morton Williams Supermarket Staff; Defaced Israeli Section, Owner Says

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By: Serach Nissim

The owner of New York City-area supermarket chain Morton Williams said Pro-Palestinian protesters from a rally near Columbia University were all riled up and made trouble in his store.

Morton Williams co-owner, Avi Kaner, told The NY Post that the anti-Israel protesters came in his store after a rally and harassed the cashiers, and defaced the store’s Israeli products section.  He said the store, which has been operated by his Jewish family for decades, become the target of hate on Wednesday for the two women who came into the supermarket’s Morningside Heights location on Broadway.  “You have a right to your opinion. You don’t have a right to deface private property,” Kaner said. “These actions are blatantly anti-Semitic. They have to be called out.”

Mr. Kaner, himself a Columbia University alumnus, said the two women wore pandemic face masks and headed into the Israeli products section.  He said they slapped on a sticker that read, “Every time the media lies, a neighborhood in Gaza dies.”  Per the Post, Kaner said that when his employees asked the women to leave the store, they started yelling at the workers and arguing about the Israel-Hamas war.  Kaner said they contacted the NYPD and Columbia security to report the occurrence.

Morton Williams, founded in 1952, has 14 stores across Manhattan, and was recently named as a boycott target by Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace groups.  The groups called for supporters to avoid shopping at Morton Williams because the company advertises that it “proudly imports from Israel.”

The student groups also condemned the supermarket chain’s previous support of Israel, when it had dropped Ben & Jerry’s products after the company had cut ties with Israel.  In 2021, the Vermont-based ice cream company had said it would stop selling ice cream in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” using the old term used to describe the areas occupied by Israel since 1967, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.  Ben & Jerry’s decision led many to protest, and many moved to divest from the ice cream maker’s parent company Unilever.

As previously reported by the Jewish Voice, Morton Williams had sided with Israel, announcing in July 2021 that it would cut the Ben & Jerry’s products it sells in its 16 stores by 70 percent, stop promoting the ice cream in its weekly circulars, and demote Ben & Jerry’s to the “least desirable locations” of its freeze aisles.  Morton Williams had said in its press release, “This action is taken in response to Ben & Jerry’s boycott of Jewish communities that are at the center of a territorial dispute in Israel, including the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem – inhabited by Jews for over 3,000 years.”

Kaner said at the time that he also reached out to other retailers to follow suit. “Of all the places in the world to boycott, Ben & Jerry’s has chosen to target the one Jewish nation in the world,” said Kaner.

Kaner told the Post that their Morton Williams store near Columbia University “has been hurt significantly”, by the recent boycott against it since the weekends’ protests.  “Since Saturday we’ve seen business slowing down, and it’s hurting our bottom line,” Kaner said.

He was dismayed that students were boycotting, noting the store had stayed open 24/7 even during the pandemic to meet the needs of students and community members.  “It just doesn’t make sense for students at an elite, Ivy League school to support terrorists and spread a hateful message in our community,” Kaner said.  “They’re trying to silence us through bullying and intimidation, but we will not cave in to bullies.”

A campaign is underway to express support for the Morton Williams supermarket chain and their adamant refusal to acquiesce to apologists for terrorism and blatant Jew hatred.

As such, the campaign is encouraging people to do their food shopping at Morton Williams. Their locations in Manhattan are as follows:

1 – 130 Bleecker Street

2 – 278 Park Avenue South, near 22nd Street

3 – 311 East 23rd Street, near 2nd Avenue

4  – 908 Second Avenue, at 48th Street

5 – 1031 First Avenue, at 56th Street

6 – 140 West 57th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues

7 – 917 Ninth Avenue at 59th Street

8 – 15 West End Avenue at 60th Street

9 – 1066 Third Avenue at 63rd Street

10 – 1331 First Avenue at 71st Street

11 – 1251 Third Avenue at 72nd Street

12 –  1565 First Avenue at 81st Street

13 – 1211 Madison Avenue at 87th Street

15 –  2941 Broadway at 115th Street

This October, the NYPD reported at least 69 anti-Jewish incidents in the city, which is more than three times the number of incidents in the prior year.  The Anti Defamation League reported that since Hamas’ killing spree on Oct. 7th, anti-Semitic acts jumped. The ADL recorded a total of 312 anti-Semitic incidents between Oct. 7th to 23rd, of which 190 acts were directly linked to the war in Israel and Gaza. That was up from a total 64 incidents in that time frame in 2022.


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