Yotam Ottolenghi: The occupation of the West Bank is the mother of all evils
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Yotam Ottolenghi: The occupation of the West Bank is the mother of all evils

Israeli-born chief and restauranteur said he finds it 'really difficult to react on social media' when there is conflict in the region

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi

Israeli born chef Yotam Ottolenghi has said: “I think the occupation of the West Bank is the mother of all evils.”

The restaurant owner – who started his business with a Palestinian partner – said he understands why he is frequently asked to give his opinion on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

He told The Times:”I do understand why people want me to speak out because my collaboration, my friendship with Sami [Tamimi]
a beacon to many for coexistence.”

But Ottolenghi, who now lives in London where he opened his first deli in 2002,  also explained that he felt it was difficult to discuss conflict in the Middle East via social media platforms.

He said he understood that “when bombs are falling over Gaza and Israel people want me to be more vocal.”

But he said he finds it “really difficult to react on social media – not because I don’t have an opinion, I have a strong opinion. It is because it is complex.”

Ottolenghi – who has opened four delis in the capital – then gave his tough verdict on what he described as “the occupation of the West Bank” which he said was the “mother of all evils.”

During the interview the chef also revealed he had suffered from a serious bout of Covid in March.

He revealed:”It was pretty awful. I didn’t go to the hospital, but I felt so bad and weak for a month.”

He said at one stage he panicked and thought he was going to die.

Still yet to recover fully, Ottolenghi also spoke of how the pandemic had left his businesses struggling financially.

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