The Daily Ma’ariv has published an Exposé of a major faux pas that allegedly took place during Independence Day celebrations at the presidential residence in Jerusalem. According to testimonies that reached the paper, the company Pri Ha’Aretz (Fruit of the Land) was forced to purchase a large quantity of meat on Thursday morning, Independence Day, to replace meat that had spoiled. A company representative rushed to a non-kosher butcher shop in the Arab village of Abu Gosh, and after purchasing the meat had it prepared in a local non-kosher restaurant.
The Ma’ariv investigation revealed the that the purchase was made at the Issawi butcher shop, which is open on Shabbat and also sells sea food.
The catering company admitted that the kosher meat for the presidential event had spoiled, but it told Ma’ariv that the substitute meat came from Kibbutz Givat Chayim Me’uchad, and therefore all the meat served was kosher.
But the president’s residence launched its own investigation following the call from Ma’ariv, and Jwadat Ibrahim, owner of the Abu Gosh restaurant and a close personal friend of President Peres, told the paper that on Thursday a man arrived in his establishment with meat and a receipt from a non-kosher butcher shop in the village, and asked to use the kitchen to cater the event scheduled for later that day.
“He asked my permission to cook a large quantity of hen’s meat shawarma (mixed meats on a spit), 80 kilogram (close to 180 lbs). He said he came from a catering company and added explicitly that he needed it for a 500-guest event at the presidential residence.”
The event was in honor of 120 outstanding soldiers and included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, senior cabinet ministers, Knesset members and the soldiers’ families.
So far, the catering company has made several contradictory claims in response to an inquiry from Ma’ariv as well as the president’s residence. It first denied there had been a purchase made in Abu Gosh, then said the purchase had been made for a different event, and finally that a company employee had gone out to Abu Gosh but returned empty handed.
The paper pointed out that the catering was under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate which kosher-certified the food on Independence day and posted a kashrut supervisor inside the presidential kitchen throughout the event.
A spokesperson for the presidential residence said that legal action will be taken if it turns out that the caterer acted fraudulently.