The Arab Israeli owner of a popular tahini brand is facing a boycott for donating to an LGBTQ rights group. But thanks to some friends at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dozens of Israeli diplomats in the country and around the world have purchased more than 600 pounds of the tasty sesame paste to support Julia Zaher, who owns Al Arz tahini in Nazareth.
Al Arz tahini is distributed globally, with its adherents including the well-known Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Zaher made a “significant” donation to the Aguda rights group to create a hotline for Arabic-speaking LGBT Israelis. After Aguda tweeted appreciation in Arabic and Hebrew on July 1, conservative Muslim clerics in the Galilee called for a boycott of her brand.
Galit Peleg, the former consul for public diplomacy in New York, has been friendly with Zaher for years and enlisted dozens of diplomats to make a group purchase of the popular sesame paste.
“Julia — aside from the fact that she is a role model for female entrepreneurs and a breakthrough for businesswomen in the Arab society — has made a lot of important contributions towards promoting minorities in Israeli society, especially within the Arab community,” Peleg said in a statement.
The packages arrived last week at the MFA office in Jerusalem. Some will remain in Israel, with the rest sent to diplomats in the United States, Tokyo, Singapore, Taiwan and Uzbekistan.