Farley's East in Oakland. (Photo/Farley's East)
Farley's East in Oakland. (Photo/Farley's East)

Oakland coffee shop apologizes after scuffle over anti-Israel graffiti

A video posted by StopAntisemitism.org has gone viral, capturing the moment when three employees at Farley’s East coffeehouse in Oakland appear to deny a Jewish customer access to the restroom. The incident unfolded on Wednesday when the distressed customer complained about anti-Zionist and anti-Israel graffiti inside the bathroom.

The woman, who in the video says she is a paying customer at the establishment, repeatedly asks the employees to allow her into the restroom. The woman speaks with an Israeli-sounding accent. Three workers stand in front of the restroom door and block her way, asking her to leave. One tells her, “I know Israel loves taking private property and saying it’s their own, but we gotta have…”

The Anti-Defamation League told J. on Thursday that the woman filed an incident report with the ADL. The anti-hate organization tracks incidents of “antisemitism, extremism, bias, bigotry or hate.”

At one point during the encounter, an employee from a neighboring business offers the use of their restroom, but the customer firmly insists on using Farley’s East bathroom, stating, “I should not be excluded, and other people allowed.”

At some point the three employees move aside from the door and she goes in to make a recording of the graffiti, which includes the message “Zionism = Fascism” scrawled above the sink and more messages written on the baby changing table.

As she finishes filming and walks out of the bathroom, the employees say “Free Palestine” and smile.

The video quickly gained traction, amassing over 2.6 million views before StopAntisemitism.org removed it from X (Twitter) at the customer’s request. Copies of the video have since circulated online and gained over 5.4 million views.

I should not be excluded, and other people allowed.

The watchdog group called for the firing of all three employees, calling the incident “inexcusable.” Another group, the Shirion Collective, which touts itself as a “Jewish surveillance collective” that uses an AI agent (named Maccabee) to scrape the internet for “digital fingerprints” to “aggressively track and expose antisemites,” has gotten involved. The Shirion Collective, which was started a month ago, has doxxed two of the employees on X by posting identifying information including their names, addresses, phone numbers and names of suspected relatives.

Farley’s East issued a statement acknowledging the incident as an “error” and offering a “sincere apology.” The coffee shop confirmed the existence of “hate speech graffiti” in its bathroom and said it does not support such expressions. The statement mentioned that corrective measures were taken with the staff, without specifying the actions.

According to the statement, Farley’s East plans to have ongoing staff training for a “safe and welcoming environment” and emphasized its “commitment to diversity and inclusivity.” The statement concluded by thanking the community for understanding the challenges that a small business faces.

The ADL’s regional director based in San Francisco, Marc Levine, strongly criticized the behavior of the three coffee shop employees.

“It is sickening to watch Farley’s East staff reinforce anti-Israel graffiti scrawled in their restroom, block a customer’s access into the restroom all while verbally abusing her,” Levine said in a statement to J. “Jews everywhere are facing vitriol, harassment and pure hatred simply for being Jewish and supporting Israel’s right to exist. It must stop.”

Levine offered Farley’s East antisemitism resources available through ADL.

Farley’s, which also has a location in San Francisco, is a family-owned business whose slogan is “serving coffee and community.” The phrase “you belong here” is printed on their to-go cups. The coffee shop has also shown public support for the Civic Joy Fund, a local nonprofit founded by Jewish community activists Manny Yekutiel and Daniel Lurie. Yekutiel, who was referred to as “our good friend Manny” by Farley’s on Instagram, was with his family in Israel during the Oct. 7 attack.

Farley’s East has not provided further details on the actions taken against the involved employees.

J. reached out to Farley’s East for additional comments, but no response had been received at the time of publication.

Lea Loeb
(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Lea Loeb

Lea Loeb is engagement reporter at J. She previously served as editorial assistant.