Hummus Becomes the Latest Target of Israel’s Enemies

June 23, 2020 | Gilead Ini
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Such is the nature of hostility toward the Jewish state that referring to such culinary staples as hummus, falafel, and shakshuka as “Israeli food” is considered a grievous afront to Palestinian dignity—not on Iranian propaganda networks, but in polite discourse in America. Gilead Ini writes:

A few years ago, for example, after the television food-show host Rachael Ray wrote about her “Israeli nite” dinner of hummus, eggplant, and other Middle Eastern dips, pollster James Zogby responded on Twitter with hashtags of fury: “Damn it. . . . This is cultural #genocide. It’s not #Israeli food.” Likewise, in 2017, when [the comedian] Conan O’Brien made the mistake of describing shakshuka as “Israeli,” he was accosted on camera by anti-Israel activists who insisted that the eggs-and-tomato dish is really Palestinian. (It isn’t. As the Libyan food writer Sara Elmusrati has explained, Sephardi Jews brought the dish from its original home in North Africa to Israel, where it’s been “showcased in a way it has never been in the Maghreb states.”)

The denial and erasure, [in fact], tend to go in the opposite direction. The delegitimization of Israeli food is a predictable outgrowth of a broader campaign to denigrate Israel itself and to deny the culture and humanity of its Jewish citizens. We can look to campus for some typical examples: “The only Israeli food that they eat is the blood of the Palestinian people,” wrote a Kent State student who later headed the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. . . . Similar slurs come from higher up the ivory tower. “Israeli food, you Zionist occupiers and thieves? It [is] as Israeli as apple pie is Arabic,” mused the California State professor Asad Abukhalil.

And this bring Ini to another absurdity in this line of reasoning:

Throughout the multiethnic Middle East, Jews ate and made hummus for as long as anyone has. If you search for the world’s earliest known published hummus recipe, for example, you’d find it in 13th-century Egypt. There, you’d also find a prominent demographic minority of Jews—the ancestors of so many Egyptian Jews who took the short voyage east to Israel.

[Moreover], for centuries after the Roman victory, Jewish communities thrived in and around northern Israel. Today, we can still find the remains of their towns and synagogues. Arab villagers who subsequently resettled one of those Jewish towns named their new village Yehudiya, a reference to the Jews who, they fully understood, preceded them. . . . In the 10th century, for example, an Arab geographer wrote of their flourishing in Jerusalem—“Everywhere the Christians and the Jews have the upper hand”—working as tanners and dyers and moneychangers.

In the subsequent millennium, although the Jewish population of the Land and Israel waxed and waned, it never disappeared. Surely some of those Jews occasionally enjoyed a bowl of hummus.

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