December 27, 2018
Manny’s, a new business in San Francisco’s Mission District, is part cafe, part bookstore, part political event hall. Owner Manny Yekutiel, a 29-year-old rising star in the world of liberal political organizing, calls it a “civic social gathering space.”
It’s hosted incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, activists with Black Lives Matter — and on the sidewalk outside, protesters upset because Yekutiel is a “Zionist gentrifer.”
“Zionists out of the Mission!” one marcher yelled on Wednesday, Dec. 26, as about 20 members of the Lucy Parsons Project and allied groups gathered outside Manny’s.
he self-described “radical black queer direction action group,” named for an early 20th century Latina anarcho-communist labor organizer, has protested at Manny’s every Wednesday this month, and says it will continue protesting every Wednesday until Manny’s is “shut down.” The Project only has about 300 Twitter followers, but among the protest’s supporters is a local rapper, Equipto, with 14,500 followers.
The Bay Area is known for its left-wing politics and history of political activism on a range of issues — including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jewish Voice for Peace was founded in Oakland. Groups for and against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement have advertised on area buses. The president of San Francisco State University has repeatedly apologized for anti-Semitic statements made by pro-BDS students and faculty. Local activists have for years protested at stores selling Israeli products like Ahava creams or SodaStream seltzer-makers.
And the Mission District, with its burrito shops and local Latino landmarks abutting pricey townhouses, is Ground Zero for various San Francisco-specific tensions, like gentrification fueled by the region’s tech boom.
None of the events at Manny’s have concerned the Middle East. Instead, the protesters are targeting Yekutiel for his personal support for the existence of the Jewish state.
The Lucy Parsons Project claims that Yekutiel is furthering gentrification in their neighborhood and criticized him for posting things like “Happy 70th Birthday Israel!” and “I am so proud of Israel and its people” on his personal Facebook page. They also wrote that he is “pinkwashing and blackfacing his gentrification and Zionism” by bringing in minority and LGBT guest speakers. (Yekutiel is also gay.)
He grew up in Los Angeles, the son of an American Ashkenazi Jewish mother and an immigrant father whose family fled persecution from Afghanistan to Israel. “I’m proud of their story and proud to be Jewish in America,” he said. At Manny’s, there’s a mezuzah on the door.