Thursday, 15 January 2009

A kerfuffle in a falafel food hall [update 2)

People should be tolerant, respectful, and mindful of other people's choices. They should favour persuasion over force. Hands up all those in favour?

So what about the case of Turkish-Invercargillian falafel shop owner Mustafa Tekinkaya who barred a group of Hebrew speaking Israelis from his Mevlana cafe? ("I have decided as a protest," explained Mustafa, "not to serve Israelis until the war [in Gaza] stops.") How does our foregoing proposition apply to him? Simple: Just note the words his cafe. That is, it's his shop, so it's entirely his business who he chooses to serve, or not. It's his business, not yours, so he's fully entitled to use it to make whatever protest he likes. It's his right -- specifically, his property right.

Remember property rights?

This means bossy boots bureaucrats desirous of prosecuting him for "discrimination" -- yes, I'm talking to you, Joris Bloody de Bres -- should butt the hell out and mind their own business.

This means that Israeli nationals Natalie Bennie and her sister Tamara Shefa, along with Mrs Bennie's two children Noah, 2, and Ella, 4, should shut the hell up and accept that as long as force isn't initiated against any party, then people are entitled to do what the hell they like on their own property, for whatever reason they care to name.

If you don't like Mustafa's decision, Mrs Bennis and Ms Shefa, then don't call for the use of de Bres's bloody bureaucracy to bombard him with directives; simply avoid Mustafa's place next time you're in Invercargill for a falafel.

And this also means that if you're sympathetic to the plight of Mrs Bennis and Ms Shefa, which they say has left them "shocked and hurt" (oh, the horror of being barred from a falafel shop), then you can always do the same.

That's what it means to use persuasion instead of force, you know: not to reach for the government's club when you disagree with someone, but to recognise the rights of the situation and to use the power of persuasion instead -- which means in this case to realise that no rights are breached, not one, when a businessman chooses not to serve someone on his own property, but they sure would be if the government forces him to do so against his will.

And to realise too that when it comes to persuasion, the kind of persuasion a businessman most understands is the kind that leaves his pockets emptier.

UPDATE 1: Thanks to the editors of the Herald on Sunday who ran a heavily edited version of this post as the Blog of the Week yesterday.

UPDATE 2: If you'd like to respond to a truck load of delusion on this very simple point -- that you're entitled to serve or not serve anyone you wish in your own shop, and be free to take the consequences -- then feel free to respond to a whole thicket of delusion over at Kiwiblog, including deluded fools comparing the freedom to make your own decisions in your own shop with the Turkish massacre of at least half-a-million Armenians early last century.


  1. Well said, Peter!

    I wrote a similar post on my own blog, but the principle of the thing is what is important in this matter.

    Most people, 'especially' a few self proclaimed "libertarians", I am sorry to say, believe that rights and freedoms only apply to those with whom they agree....rather than everyone.

  2. well written Peter, on the nail as usual.

  3. ...along with Mrs Bennie's two children Noah, 2, and Ella, 4, should shut the hell up and accept...

    Okaaay..quietly shutting the door now and walking away from the Libertarian freaks.

  4. Whats wrong AA...? You don't control what happens on your property? You allow anyone who wants to to tramp all over your rights?

    Grow up.

  5. Well said.

    I am going to shamelessly reproduce part of my comment made on Kiwblog (capitalism is all about efficiency after all):

    When “human rights” are allowed to over rule property rights, e.g. if the cafe owner was forced to serve Israelis, then we lose our freedom. So-called “hate speech” laws are the same thing, i.e. they violate a person’s right to say whatever they like when they are using their own property to say it.

    There’s no such thing as “human rights”, there’s only property rights:

  6. The cafe owners are correct - freedom of speech is extremely important. I'm sure they backed the Danish press when they published the Mohammed cartoons on just that basis - yeah, right! The trouble with people like this who claim to believe in freedom of speech is that they think it should only apply to themselves and those who share their (usually disgusting) opinions.

  7. Jackie

    The cafe owner can properly deny service to those he disagrees with or does not like. Similarly other people can properly refuse to patronise his cafe or do business with him. Something tells me that the cafe owner is going to find business dropping off and revenues declining. Perhaps he'll think on why that may be. Perhaps he won't. It's his business.


  8. LGM - I agree that the cafe owner should be able to deny service (and indeed access to his premises) on any basis that he considers appropriate.

    My point was that there are a number of people who vociferously demand freedoms (such as free speech) for themselves that they also vociferously argue against others having and that it I suspect that this cafe owner is one such person.

  9. Sure the two women did not have anything to do with what happend, but its his cafe.
    good post as usual.

  10. Jackie

    "My point was that there are a number of people who vociferously demand freedoms (such as free speech) for themselves that they also vociferously argue against others having and that it I suspect that this cafe owner is one such person."

    You're probably right. He likely is such a knob head.


  11. If the Cafe owner hung a sign saying "Keine Juden und Keine Hunde" I'm sure very few would visit - Gentiles or non-canine included.

    And the cafe owner would realise that he needs to modify his attitude, or go broke - far more readily that if the Government told him to.

  12. Last Thursday my son & I shook Mustafa's hand - and ate his rather fine kebabs.
    We usually frequent one of the other kebab houses - of which we are rather well serves here in Invercargill.

    With his fine kebabs, best coffee in town and a penchant for exercising his property rights, he has my (slightly semitic) support.
    Sadly, such are peoples attitudes down here - it seems he may need our support more than ever...

  13. Why on earth shake the hand of a racist for simply exercising his property rights?

    As a libertarian, I agree that he should absolutely be able to say who may or may not enter his property, but that doesn't mean I approve of racist protesting, or think he's some hero worthy of support.

    I wouldn't idolize a KKK leader for putting a sign outside his shop saying "Blacks suck", just because he happened to own the sign and the shop in which it hung. I'd think "Golly gosh, that guy's a dick".

    It's hardly an act of heroism. It's bigotry.

    I hope he goes out of business, because he sounds like a dick.

    Whatever happened to "I disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it"?

  14. The Muslim owner should make it easier for customers to make a considered choice as to frequent his establishment by indicating who he won’t serve via a sign on the outside - not after they enter and sit-down with their toddlers.

    Something along the lines: ‘We don’t serve Jews, Non-Believers, American Imperialists’ should do just fine.

    Failing that idea, why doesn’t N.Z Immigration simply give all visitors from Israel or those with Jewish sounding surnames, say an armband to identify them?

    I think you are taking this libertarian business too far on this one.


  15. Canterbury Atheist

    The idea that the "N.Z Immigration simply give all visitors from Israel or those with Jewish sounding surnames, say an armband to identify them" relies on an assumption that the government owns New Zealand and ALL those who reside there. In doing as you suggested such a government would be "exercising its property right." That is, there are Government Rights, but no Individual Rights- certainly no Individual Property Rights. Such a situation is quite different from the owner of a retail shop refusing to serve other people or do business with other people. It is different from the owner of a retail shop behaving offensively within the domain of his premises and business. It is different from his erecting a sign- offensive or not.

    It is important to understand what Libertarianism is and what it is not.


  16. Yes, I must confess I wouldn't want to shake Mustafa's hand.

    There's a vast difference between defending someone's right to do what they wish on their own property, and defending what it is they wish to do.

    One has the perfect right to put out signs saying either "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish" or "No Bigots" -- just as customers have the perfect right to make their own choices based on such signs.

    All that said, while I disagree with Mustafa's anti-Israeli attitude, in a time of war it's perfectly understandable that a chap is going to have strong views, and perfectly right that he should be able to exercise his own views on his own property without attracting the attentions of the country's busybodies.

    Isn't that the adult way to approach things?

  17. If this Jew-hater wants to exclude trading with Jews in his business – then of course that is his right.

    But, don’t wait till tourists enter the shop sit down with their toddlers and make their order, and then be rude & abusive to them based on their homeland and religion – that is frankly obnoxious behavior & should be vilified.

    This goes both ways.

    By signifying you hate Jews, non-Muslims etc (via web site, signs etc) then the targets of your hatred will happily spend their money elsewhere and next time I’m in Invercargill people like me will make their choice to avoid frequenting their establishment.

    Conversely supporters like you Libz can hold-up this Mustafa as some sort of hero for ‘the cause’ & keep shaking his hand and ordering ‘double-helpings’.

    This isn’t about the Governments reaction (my opinion on Race Relations etc is much the same as yours) it’s about maintaining some civil dignity & not bringing hatred ‘from the old country’ to a new one.

    Abusing and threatening tourists because you do not like their religion/country something I don’t want to see in New Zealand – whether or not it is ones right & liberty.

    Gotta shoot.


    PS: Oh yeah I somewhat doubt this guy would have the guts to tell two Hebrew speaking males to “piss-off” or put a sign-up.


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