The owner of an upcoming gay bar in Minneapolis is facing major backlash for sharing a slew of antisemitic content on social media and denigrating members of the LGBTQ community he purportedly sought to serve.
Critics said "major red flags went up" after Emad Yousef Abed, who is reportedly set to open the bar Cheers later this month, launched a GoFundMe campaign asking to raise $1.5 million to purchase the building his business would be housed in. While the fundraiser has since been removed, it motivated some community members to investigate the owner and unearth multiple antisemitic Facebook posts he made attacking Jews, Zionists and Israel.
"Did you know Israel & it's people must be eliminated from existence," Abed wrote in a 2015 Facebook post. "They are like cancer, Europe got rid of this disease in World War One & Two by moving this disease to 'PALESTINE'. Now as Palestinians we are stuck with this horrible shit until we eliminate them from existence."
In separate posts that year, he wrote, "Israeli's are Fuckin criminals HITLER should have finished them all" and called the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas "a liberation movement to send back Israeli's to Europe & USA where the came from. FREE PALESTINE !!!"
In another post from 2016, Abed asserted, "I hate Israel, and Israeli, I hate America for supporting Israel. America is run by Zionist Jews. The Average American is dumb. Jews run the White House, the congress and the senate. All world problems are caused by Israelis & Jews."
He shared similar sentiments in a post this December, which also featured a video interview with Marc Lamont Hill, a Temple University who was fired from his job as a CNN commentator in November after appearing to call for Israel's elimination.
Abed confirmed in comments to the City Pages weekly that the bar, Facebook profile and offending posts that were circulating are his.
Screenshots of the posts were shared on Facebook on Monday by Andy Birkey, a community member who called Abed "a seriously anti-Semitic future gay bar owner." Abed himself joined the discussion on Birkey's page, accusing him of "Making stuff up online," and adding, "I'm not antisemite. I'm Semite myself but clearly you are stupid and a dork."
"[What] the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians is worse than what Hitler did," Abed said. "But because you are ignorant and uneducated like the rest of you commenting on this post you don't know the facts or the truth. You are fully brainwashed by the Zionist media that controls your ass on daily basis."
He accused critics of "making fake news and fake comments," calling them "evil people," "racist prejudice losers," and denigrating the appearance of at least one commentator.
More than 250 people have RSVPed to join a protest outside Cheers on June 21st, when the bar plans to hold its grand opening. "We're gonna show this looney tune what happens when you try to come into our community to make a buck while degrading us," protest organizers wrote on Facebook. "Hell to the no."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey weighed in on the controversy on Tuesday, writing on Facebook, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came."
"While you will find this welcoming attitude at LGBTQ bars throughout the city, you won't find it at Cheers," Frey added. "I'll make sure to patron the welcoming ones this pride month. L'chaim! (Not Cheers)."
In a statement on Tuesday, Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said he was unsettled by news of "an unrepentant antisemite opening a purportedly LGBTQ friendly bar in Minneapolis," the local TC Jewfolk newspaper reported.
"While the overwhelmingly negative response to this bigot is heartening, this latest expression of hate demonstrates how quickly unhinged opposition to Israel and Zionism devolves into anti-Semitism," Hunegs said.
Before the bar's Facebook page was deactivated on Tuesday, it had amassed so many negative reviews that it was rated 1.1 out of 5 stars, according to TC Jewfolk.