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Michigan Burger Restaurant With Israeli Ties Cancels Opening Due to Threats and Boycotts

Michigan Burger Restaurant With Israeli Ties Cancels Opening Due to Threats and Boycotts

A Lebanese-American private business owner halted expansion plans because he fears for the safety of his family and employees thanks to anti-Semitic bigotry in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s district.

Imagine investing $200,000 into a restaurant, but then turn around and indefinitely delay its opening because people threatened to boycott your business and bullied your family members.

That’s the decision BurgerIM franchisee Sam Zahr had to make for the safety of his family and employees. He also didn’t want to divide the Dearborn, Michigan, community.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Sam Zahr, a Lebanese-American who lives in Dearborn, said he was too worried to open the restaurant on Greenfield Road after his kids were bullied and he received threatening messages from those opposed to the burger chain founded in Israel.

The Dearborn Burgerim location has stirred controversy for months, striking at the heart of the charged debate over Israeli-Palestinian relations. The announced restaurant opening has elicited back-and-forth comments on Facebook posts from those spreading the message to boycott and others just hoping for a good burger.

Burgerim, which means “many burgers” in Hebrew, specializes in mini burgers of different types of meat. It’s headquartered in Encino, California, but was founded in Israel with its first location in Tel Aviv.

Sam Zahr shared one of the threatening messages he received with the publications:

Zahr described several events that led to the decision not to open. In one instance, someone messaged him on Facebook with threatening comments, confirmed by screenshots of the messages.

“I told you, you are not like us,” someone wrote in a Facebook message to Zahr. “You have Palestinian and Lebanese blood on your hand if you open up that joint.”

In another incident, he set up a tent with free burgers outside the soon-to-open Royal Oak store for Ramadan, a Muslim holiday in April, but he said the tent was destroyed the next morning.

Palestinian activist named Amer Zahr (no relation) has led the boycotts:

Amer Zahr — no relation to Sam — is a Dearborn activist, comedian and an adjunct law professor at University of Detroit Mercy. He has been a leading voice urging his community to boycott the business when it opens because it was founded in Israel on land he says was stolen from Palestinians.


When Burgerim first began to set up shop in the neighborhood, Amer Zahr said many people did not know much about it. He felt it was his job to educate people on the history of its founding.

“Building their company on stolen Palestinian land is how they established themselves,” Zahr said. “Whether they ended up moving (headquarters) … it doesn’t really matter. The genesis of the company was in Israel.”

I’m sure it will surprise absolutely no one reading this to find out that Amer Zahr supports the anti-Semitic BDS movement, which Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) both recently equated to the boycotts of Nazi Germany:

Zahr is a supporter of the Palestinian-led movement called BDS, or Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, that puts pressure on Israel to change its policies and grant Palestinians human rights, according to the movement’s website. It was inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

DC Examiner editor Seth Mandel, who is Jewish, had this reaction:

Via Google Maps, here’s a screengrab of what the restaurant looked like in August 2018:

Grabbed from Google Maps

While the locals knew it as a Dearborn restaurant, technically it was located Detroit – literally right across the street from Dearborn. The address was 6901 Greenfield Rd, Detroit, MI 48228.

When I checked the zip code, I discovered the location was in Tlaib’s district.

Don’t hold your breath, waiting for her to voluntarily weigh-in or for the national media to get her thoughts. I think based on recent comments alone it’s pretty obvious what she would respond.

WXYZ-TV interviewed both Zahrs this week to find out more about their positions on the issue. Sam Zahr has some other BurgerIM locations in Detroit but wanted to bring one to Dearborn because he said the food is halal.

“I’m not sending money overseas to anybody,” Sam Zahr said during the interview. He said the money would go towards the operating costs of the restaurant, including paying his employees, paying for the food, marketing efforts, and personal profit from what’s leftover.

Watch the segment below:

Sam Zahr told Fox 2 Detroit that he wasn’t a franchisee for BurgerIM for political reasons. He said he wanted to open it to serve his community:

“How a burger, making a hamburger, is going to support Israel?” said Sam Zahr. “It didn’t make sense.”


“This franchise supporting Israel, we did not know about it, after I found out about it the first time, I contacted corporate, I did my own homework to see any kind of link. I did not find any link,” he said.

Sam is an immigrant, a Lebanese-American whose family, he says, has been impacted by the conflict.

Sam says the backlash from the Arab community has kept him from opening BurgerIM in Detroit – costing him $200,000 and that’s not including the lease.


“Every store I open in Detroit it’s employing about 25 people,” Sam said. “My job is to open my business, serve my community and make the best out of it. I don’t want to get involved in any politics.”

Something Amer Zahr said to the Detroit Free Press to justify his targeting of the restaurant rubbed me the wrong way:

“Anyone has a First Amendment right to boycott whatever they wish to boycott and to call for boycotts,” Amer Zahr said. “A boycott, of course, comes with the potential of economic damage.”

While that’s true, rest assured that if he opened a restaurant, and a Christian activist organized a boycott campaign against him, his outrage would go off the charts. The national news media would have a field day camping out in Dearborn and giving 24-7 updates on “developments,” etc.

Tlaib would come rushing in with her Squad pals closely behind her, demanding action against “religious bigotry inspired by President Trump,” etc.

But the shoe is not on the other foot in this case. The national media doesn’t care that a Lebanese-American private business owner has had to halt expansion plans because he fears for the safety of his family and employees thanks to anti-Semitic bigotry in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s district.

And even if the national media did care, too many of their resources are tied up in giving Ga. State Rep. Erica Thomas (D) her 15 minutes of fame, which looks to be just about up.

This is yet another example of how we are living in incredibly stupid, and dangerous, times.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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“Amer Zahr…is …an adjunct law professor at University of Detroit Mercy”

Of course he is.

Shouldn’t he say “the company operates on land which Arabs stole from Israel during the Muslim invasions of the seventh century”.

Why am I not surprised at the racism around the Detroit area….

    JusticeDelivered in reply to 4fun. | July 25, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    That is completely Henry Ford’s fault, and there is reason to believe that if Ford had not funded Hitler would not have been ale to murder 6 million Jews. in reply to JusticeDelivered. | July 26, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      Henry Ford was a Jew hater but not an exterminationist. He thought there were “good Jews”, the ones he knew personally, and “bad Jews”, the boogeymen of his imagination. He had Albert Kahn design his factories. There is no evidence that Ford ever funded Hitler or the Nazi party. Henry Ford did accept an award from Hitler’s government, but then Ford Motor Co. had a very large factory in Cologne. Since then, the Ford family has worked hard to establish good relations with the Jewish community. Henry Ford II’s best friend was Max Fisher and HFII gave large donations to Jewish charities and set up a Ford plant in Israel. Bill Ford Jr., Ford Motor Company’s chairman, just set up a Ford research facility in Israel.

“He also didn’t want to divide the Dearborn, Michigan, community”

Hmmmm, Dearborn? You mean the location of the largest mosque in North America? Where things are already greatly divided. Why, you might even think you’re in a suburb of Mecca,

It’s okay, you can say it. In fact, you should say it. Say what? That the division, the threats, the promoters of the boycotts, they all come from the area’s Muslims. Dancing around the problem of Islam, for example, by not naming it as the source of the troubles, will not make it go away.

Close The Fed | July 25, 2019 at 8:13 pm

Another perfect reason we NEED to STOP immigration, legal, illegal, whatever.

The left hates America so of course they want to import those COMPLETELY INCOMPATIBLE with American culture.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Close The Fed. | July 25, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    I would not advocate now immigration. We would be stupid to not take the best and brightest ones fleeing Europe.

The camel’s noses are already under the tent.

    MattMusson in reply to | July 26, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Look at Sweden. Last month the Swedish National Police reported that:

    “Bombings have reached a level unique for a country not at war.”

    Swedish Television reported that the number of GRENADE attacks has reached 138.

Diversity and social justice are a toxic brew.

Burgerim, which means “many burgers” in Hebrew,

Actually it just means “burgers”.

“Anyone has a First Amendment right to boycott whatever they wish to boycott and to call for boycotts,”

Right in the second part, wrong in the first. The first amendment does not protect any right to boycott. It protects only the right to call for boycotts. There is no constitutional right to boycott, and in many cases boycotts are actually illegal.

In particular, any entity that is covered by the civil rights laws may not discriminate on the basis of national origin — that means they may not boycott Israelis, or South Africans when that was a thing. When the Ithaca Food Co-op decided to boycott Israeli products Prof J warned them of the legal consequences, and not only did they end up having to cancel that boycott, but they also had to stop boycotting China for the same reason.

Anger palestinians = fear for your safety. Nothing new here.