A branch of a popular gourmet burger chain whose owner led chants at a pro-Palestine rally has burned down, with police saying they are treating the blaze as ‘suspicious’.
Burgertory’s Caulfield branch in Melbourne‘s south east burned down around 4am on Friday. No one was inside at the time.
Pictures from the scene showed fire crews battling to extinguish the blaze, which appears to have gutted the restaurant and shattered its glass windows.
Hash Tayeh, who transformed his business into Australia’s largest independently-owned burger chain after founding it in 2018, had been criticised in recent days for leading cries of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ at a Melbourne rally a fortnight ago.
The suburb of Caulfield is home to around 20,000 Jewish Australians.
Burgertory’s Caulfield branch in Melbourne’s south east burned down around 4am on Friday (pictured)
Police say they are treating the blaze as ‘suspicious’
Many interpret the chant as a call for the destruction of Israel.
Mr Tayeh vehemently denies he is anti-Semitic and has since claimed he has the deepest sympathy for civilian victims in both Palestine and Israel.
A spokesperson for Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia detectives are now investigating the inferno.
‘Emergency services were called to the Glenhuntly Road blaze just after 4.15am,’ the spokesperson said.
‘There was no one inside at the time. The exact cause of the fire is being investigated but is being treated as suspicious at this stage.’
‘Anyone who witnessed the incident, has CCTV, dashcam footage or any other information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.’
Hash Tayeh (pictured with his wife), 32 – who founded Burgertory in 2018 which has since become Australia’s biggest independently-owned burger chain – was filmed at a pro-Palestine protest in Melbourne a fortnight ago
Daily Mail Australia has approached Burgertory for comment.
Mr Tayeh, 32, was filmed at a pro-Palestine protest in Melbourne on 29 October holding a loudspeaker and leading chants of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’.
Some interpret the rallying cry as anti-Semitic, as it effectively calls for the abolishment of Israel by extending the Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea.
‘It is an anti-Semitic charge denying the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland,’ according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Police have called for any witnesses or anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage to come forward as detectives investigate the ‘suspicious’ blaze
It has been also been used by terror organisation Hamas as a rallying cry to drive the Jews from the state of Israel.
Mr Tayeh, who also led chants of ‘Shame, shame USA, how many kids did you kill today’, originally shared the footage on his Instagram page before deleting it after being deluged with criticism.
The day after the protest the Jordan-born entrepreneur wrote ‘an open letter to my Jewish friends’ following calls from many in the Jewish community to boycott his restaurants.
He vehemently rejected the allegation he held anti-Semitic views and claimed he was a ‘voice for peace’.
Mr Tayeh (pictured) vehemently denies that he holds anti-Semitic views and has repeatedly called for ‘peace and unity, an end to killing and suffering on both sides’
‘At no stage have I ever called for harm to any individual, and I want to emphasise that I have deep and meaningful friendships with members of the Jewish community.’
Burgertory has 18 stores in Melbourne, including one in the suburb of Caulfield which is home to 20,000 Jews.
The most recent post on Burgertory’s Instagram page is a sit-down interview with Mr Tayeh where he addresses the ‘hate, the attacks and the criticism’ he has been receiving.
‘Unity is the spark that ignites the flame of progress, turning a single voice into a powerful chorus,’ the caption reads.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk