Conservative media blasts José Andrés after Israeli airstrike kills World Central Kitchen workers

Several critics accused Andrés of “blood libel," while others condemned him for being an anti-Israel “radical”

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published April 14, 2024 3:00PM (EDT)

World Central Kitchen Chef Jose Andres meets with Lawmakers about getting humanitarian aid to Gaza at the U.S. Capitol on March 14, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
World Central Kitchen Chef Jose Andres meets with Lawmakers about getting humanitarian aid to Gaza at the U.S. Capitol on March 14, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Several conservative critics have blasted José Andrés for being a so-called anti-Israel “radical” in the wake of the deadly World Central Kitchen (WCK) drone strikes. On April 1, seven WCK aid workers were killed in an airstrike carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Gaza Strip. The workers were from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, and Palestine.

Andrés is the founder of WCK, the not-for-profit organization that provides fresh meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises, per its official website.

In response to the attack, Daily Wire host Ben Shapiro took to X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) to accuse Andrés of “blood libel.” 

“World Central Kitchen does good work, but this is a blood libel unsupportable by logic or evidence,” Shapiro wrote in a post. “Also, Andres has been accusing Israel of targeting civilians and hospitals for months on Twitter, and called for a ceasefire on October 13, less than a week after October 7.”

Shapiro also called Andrés a “political radical” during a recent episode of his eponymous conservative talk show: “He's been a political radical for quite a while. Those two things are not in particular contradiction. You can do good things and you can do bad things. Life is filled with these sorts of things.” Shapiro suggested that accusing Israel of facilitating “a war against humanity itself” is an “incredibly vicious proposition.”

The Federalist’s David Harsanyi also accused Andrés of “blood libel,” saying “many Democrats have taken to cynically spreading this blood libel to help Joe Biden mollify the (un-mollifiable) pro-Hamas faction within the Democrat Party.” Harsanyi slammed Andrés’ New York Times guest essay in which he urges Israel to open more land routes for food and medicine to Gaza, calling it “self-aggrandizing.”

Similarly, Newsmax TV host Greg Kelly called Andrés a “swamp favorite” and claimed his “attitude and his attention-seeking may have helped lead to” the deaths of the WCK workers. In a separate episode of his show, “Greg Kelly Reports,” Kelly attacked Andrés’ character, claiming the chef is “not that nice — yelling and screaming at people all over the place.” Kelly also said that while the WCK is an “interesting concept,” it “needs to be disbanded immediately.” He previously said the organization “is in way over its head,” and “maybe it’s time for it to go away.”

Other conservative critics said Andrés was influenced by “pressure from radical anti-Israel activists” and attacked him for calling for a ceasefire. “Who does Andrés think he is … ? … He's a gourmand who serves traif [non-kosher food],” wrote Matthew Continetti, Director of Domestic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, for The Washington Free Beacon. In the same vein, Newsmax TV host Christopher Plante slammed Andrés for “serving gourmet meals to the terrorists.”  

“Well, why aren't you inside Russia feeding the Russian troops that are attacking Ukraine?” Plante said. “You know, they're the bad guys in this and they're in there saying, ‘Oh, we're so great. We're feeding Hamas because they need food.’”

Following the attack, Andrés said he is “heartbroken and grieving” in an online statement: “These are people…angels…I served alongside in Ukraine, Gaza, Turkey, Morocco, Bahamas, Indonesia. They are not faceless…they are not nameless.”

“The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing,” his post continued. “It needs to stop restricting humanitarian aid, stop killing civilians and aid workers, and stop using food as a weapon. No more innocent lives lost. Peace starts with our shared humanity. It needs to start now.”

In addition to his plea in The New York Times, Andrés said the airstrike is “unforgivable” and something he will “have to live with” for the rest of his life during an exclusive interview with ABC News. He noted that Israel is engaged in a “war against humanity itself,” saying it’s “been six months of targeting anything that moves.”

“This doesn’t seem [like] a war against terror,” Andrés said. “This doesn’t seem anymore a war about defending Israel. This really, at this point, seems [like] it’s a war against humanity itself.”

The comment garnered pushback from the White House, which asserted that changes are necessary in order to prevent similar “operations” from taking place again. “There’s going to have to be some changes to the way Israeli defense forces are prosecuting these operations in Gaza to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said John Kirby, the White House national security communications adviser, in an April 7 episode of ABC’s “This Week.”

“There have got to be changes in the deconfliction process, between aid workers on the ground and the IDF headquarters so that this kind of targeting can’t happen again.”

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In a statement made on April 2, Joe Biden accused Israel of “not doing enough” to protect aid workers trying to deliver “desperately needed help” to civilians. The president added that he’s repeatedly urged Israel to “deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

Kirby refrained from commenting on the possible consequences the US may impose if Israel fails to stay true to its commitment to increase humanitarian aid and reduce violence against civilians in Gaza.

“We have to judge it over time. We have to see past the announcements and see if they actually meet these commitments over time in a sustained and verifiable way so that confidence can be restored, not just between aid workers and the IDF, but between the people of Gaza and Israel,” he said.

When asked if he would rule out slowing down or pausing weapons transfers to Israel, Kirby said it’s not his place “to rule anything in or out today.” 

“What I can tell you is that as the president made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu, we’ve got to see some changes in the way they're prosecuting these operations or we’re going to have to think about making changes in our own policy towards Gaza.”

On Wednesday, WCK announced that another one of its volunteers was hurt in an IDF airstrike that took place on April 1, separate from the attack that occurred just 15 minutes later. WCK said a Palestinian staff member, named Amro, was “gravely injured” in a reportedly deadly airstrike at al-Bashir Mosque in Deir al-Balah. Both April 1 airstrikes took place within miles of each other.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Aggregate Ben Shapiro Conservatives Joe Biden John Kirby Jose Andres Right-wing Media World Central Kitchen