Community rallies in support of café owner after workers walk out in protest over conflict in Gaza

Joe Torres Image
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Community supports café owner after workers walk out over war dispute
Lucy Yang has more on a Manhattan community's reaction after cafe workers walked out on the job.

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Customers lined up down the street at a Jewish-owned café in Manhattan after workers walked off the job in protest over the owner's stance on the crisis in the Middle East.

It happened in a heartbeat.

Five employees at Caffé Aronne on Lexington Avenue suddenly walked off the job Tuesday.

The workers took issue with the "kidnapped" posters in the café's window and quit in protest, telling the Israeli owner he supported the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

Peggy Dahan's son Aaron opened the café about a year ago.

"Aaron's wife is working. It's just family, friends, cousins are coming by," said Dahan. "Strangers I don't even know are sweeping the floors."

Thank goodness for those volunteers because what happened after the walkout demonstrates a remarkable level of solidarity.

A post on social media spread like wildfire and a line of people wrapped around the corner of E 71st Street, where customers who came for more than just a cup of coffee.

"I never thought that I would be having to explain to my children what my grandparents had to explain to me about the Holocaust," said Kari Posner, who is a customer at the café. "We just all need to stand together and support each other."

The Hamas surprise attack that killed 1,400 Israelis and sparked the way in the Middle East happened exactly one month ago on this date. One of those victims - a cousin of Peggy Dahan's husband.

Half a world away, the ripple of effects of that conflict reached a café in Manhattan and Dahan is overwhelmed by the response.

"People that don't know me. People that I knew from 20 years ago. I'm getting emails from London, from Israel, from California," said Dahan. "Everyone is like, 'Wow, Peggy, good for you.'"

Local business owner Elliot Rabin says the outpour of support goes beyond world news.

"I think people are coming out to support whether they are Jewish, non-Jewish, Israeli or not, it doesn't matter," said Rabin. "They are supporting a small business in NYC, and you know what, religion doesn't matter."


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