While some New Yorkers were delivering a letter to the U.S. mission to the U.N. asking America to stop the war in Lebanon, and thousands of Jews in Los Angeles mounted a demonstration in support of Israel’s response to Hezbollah’s attacks, a synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas, was preparing another response to the brutal conflict in the Middle East–collecting money to send pizzas to members of the Israeli Defense Force.
The suburban Kansas City congregation is collecting donations for Pizza IDF, a service working to ensure that people all over the world can show their support for the Israeli Defense Force by delivering a hot, fresh pizza to troops who might otherwise be eating rations in a jeep.
Through a website, customers can buy a pizza for members of the IDF with a simple credit card transaction–just like ordering a sandwich from the wired deli down the street.
Pizza IDF claims on its website that it has “delivered many thousands of pizza pies and other gifts to thousands of soldiers.”Â Through a sister website, Burger IDF, they also deliver hamburgers.Â The sites promise all of the food is kosher–no cheeseburgers, no pepperoni.
The service was launched in 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield, a response by the Israeli military to a Palestinian suicide bombing. Pizza IDF puts its politics upfront, declaring that it hopes to offer IDF members “a much needed moral boost by demonstrating support from around the world and at the same time providing people outside of Israel with a way to express their solidarity with Israel and her soldiers.” Military duty is compulsory for Israeli men and women, who face two to three years of time in the force.
At the urging of its customers, Pizza IDF has already wandered into some interesting political territory. The service delivers pizza and hamburgers to Gush Katif families, former residents of the Gaza Strip settlements that were emptied of Israelis by the IDF last year during then prime minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from the Palestinian territory. Many Gush Katif are still living in temporary housing.
Pizza IDF claims it coordinates deliveries with security services. Troops patrolling the much targeted northern city of Haifa can get a hot slice, but the soldiers now reportedly entering southern Lebanon shouldn’t expect a Kalashnikov-dodging deliveryman on a motorbike to bring them a bag full of burgers.
Michael Roston is a New York-based writer and a morning editor for The Raw Story.