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Mar 27, 2024

After years of accusing Russia of using food as a weapon in its conflict with Ukraine, State Department “culinary ambassador” José Andrés is working with the Israeli government to supplant UNRWA as the main supplier of aid to northern Gaza.

State Department-linked Spanish celebrity chef José Andrés has emerged as the US government’s preferred conduit for aid to enter Gaza, following the Biden administration’s decision to suspend funding to the enclave’s main supplier of food, aid and education, the UNRWA.

The operation appears designed to serve as a stopgap measure to provide minimal quantities of food to Gaza’s famine-stricken population until the US military finishes building a pier in the Mediterranean Sea, and a shadowy contractor run by former US Marines and CIA officials is able to implement an aid program called “Blue Beach Plan.”

Andrés’ organization, World Central Kitchen, has already finished constructing its own jetty, which was made from the rubble heaps in Gaza — a decision that virtually guaranteed the building materials contain the remains of humans killed by Israeli bombing.

The use of genocidal biomatter in the construction of the pier has been roundly ignored by legacy media outlets, whose fawning coverage of the plans has instead cast Andrés as a kind of maverick “superhero” fighting to protect Palestinian civilians in the face of international indifference.

In their rush to lionize the shady chef, the Washington Post falsely claimed, “The first ship bearing aid to Gaza since 2005… was spearheaded not by the United Nations or a world leader but by a celebrity chef, José Andrés.” In 2008, activists succeeded in using boats to deliver aid to Gaza six times before Israel began sinking the ships and killing members of their crew.

Strangely, these English-language outlets have generally neglected to mention that WCK is only able to operate in Gaza with the explicit permission of the Israeli military. The New York Times was an exception, noting in a glowing profile of Andrés’ group that “the Israeli military helped World Central Kitchen’s operation, providing security and coordination” and that “every step was carried out with permission from the Israeli military.”

“Nothing goes in without Israel’s permission,” Andrés himself conceded in an interview with NBC News. The chef claimed Israel’s COGAT unit which controls aid to the besieged enclave is “doing everything at its disposal to help the people of Gaza,” but that its “hands are tied” by the military operation.

Immediately before their recent pivot to Gaza, Andrés’ WCK spent several weeks providing meals to Israeli soldiers following Hamas’ October 7 attack.

On October 16, when Spain’s then-Minister for Social Rights, Ione Belarra, condemned Israel for conducting a “genocide” in Gaza, Andrés immediately jumped to Tel Aviv’s defense and demanded her resignation:

“You as Minister have to first recognize that the Hamas attack against civilians is a terrorist act… and that Israel @IsraelinSpain is defending its citizens… then you can ask for restraint and respect for the lives of civilians in Gaza,” the US government-aligned chef bellowed.

“Do you also support Russia? Who has killed children and women and old people and civilians?” Andrés continued. “Are you Pro @KremlinRussia_E and Pro Hamas? You do not represent me or Spain. She does not deserve to be a minister…. President [Sanchez] should remove her from her position…”

State Department asset Jose Andrés likens Blinken to Thomas Jefferson

Andrés has collaborated closely with the US government. Since early 2023, the celebrity chef has worked with the US State Department as a member of the so-called “American Culinary Corps,” a new partnership between Foggy Bottom and the James Beard Foundation.

When Andrés gave a softball interview to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his podcast that February, their warm and comfortable relationship was on full display.

“You are this fascinating man, who graduated at Harvard… you even play guitar, you have three songs on Spotify,” Andrés gushed, during his first question to the top American diplomat. “You grew up in New York, in Paris, you are fluent in French… What do you remember eating as a young man growing up in Paris?” 

When Blinken responded that “for me, going to the McDonald’s… that was the culinary experience,” and said his most cherished foods in France were “English muffins and Bumblebee tuna fish,” the world-renowned chef generously compared him to America’s second Minister to France, Thomas Jefferson, who famously grew his own crops and had various foods shipped from his Virginia slave plantation while stationed in Paris.

But the real purpose of the conversation quickly revealed itself when Andrés asked his follow-up question: “What else US and international community can be doing to keep putting pressure on Russia to make sure that grain has not become another form of weapon?”

Andrés serves not only as a semi-official emissary of the US government, but as a representative of one of its top client states. In September of 2023, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky personally welcomed Andrés to the country, describing the chef as an “ambassador” of Ukraine’s official aid collection agency, whose “strong voice helps us maintain global support.”

The chef’s intimate relationship with the US predates the current conflict in Ukraine. In 2020, he was honored at an event by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he was warmly introduced by now-CIA chief Bill Burns, who called it a “special pleasure” to bring Andrés onstage.

The result of this collusion appears to be a series of double standards that treats the lives of Palestinian as secondary to those living under the US government’s preferred regimes – a disparity which was unintentionally highlighted by recent headlines from US outlets who conducted interviews with the chef.

In April 2022, Axios wrote: “José Andrés: Russia is ‘totally’ using starvation as a weapon of war.” When speaking about Israel two years later, he displayed a significantly milder tone. According to NBC’s Meet the Press, “José Andrés says Israel should ‘totally’ be doing more to get aid into Gaza.”

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