Sunday, November 28

Cultural plagiarism and food burglary.. How did Palestinian cuisine become a target for the Israeli colonial invasion?

Not only did Israel occupy Palestinian lands, it was also greedy for Palestinian cuisine and traditions. An Arab wave of anger has recently risen over the Israeli occupation’s renaming of Palestinian dishes in Western countries and attributing them to “Israeli” cuisine.

and in Article Published by the British Middle East Eye website, the academic and writer Joseph Massad spoke about an incident that occurred with him a few years ago in a high-end restaurant in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. The name “Israeli couscous”. He was provoked and asked the manager to immediately change the name of the dish, explaining that the dish was originally Palestinian hand-made maftoul.

Although historical references indicate that the Palestinians’ knowledge of North African couscous dates back to the 17th century or earlier, when the North Africans joined the Islamic armies that fought in the Crusades and then settled in Jerusalem, and it is likely that the modern version of the dish reached Palestine and Greater Syria In the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, during the flight of Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian and Libyan families from French and Italian colonialism. It seems that the Palestinians and the Syrians modified the recipe for the small-grained North African couscous, turning it into the larger maftoul, which resembles pearls.

However, the writer said that the arrogant New York restaurant manager told him at the time that he did not know the origins of the dish, and that it was known in New York as “Israeli” couscous. The writer explained to him that this dish is sold in New York under the name “pearl couscous”, a more “neutral” name that he could have chosen instead to avoid provoking the diners who know the origins of the dish.

The manager responded sternly with what he believes to be a clever rebuttal to the opposing side’s argument, that the restaurant also referred to French fries by their familiar name in the United States, “French fries”, even though the dish is of Belgian origin. But in the case of Maftoul, it is clear that the Israelis stole the Palestinian dish, and marketed it as belonging to their kitchen, just as they did with the Palestinian territories.

local innovations

The writer explained that the Palestinian cuisine is part of the larger and richer Syrian cuisine, which includes two main branches, the Damascene cuisine and the Aleppo kitchen. The vast majority of dishes from modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine come from these two cuisines, with some innovations including the addition of locally grown vegetables, grains and herbs.

Since falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, maftoul, thyme mix, peasant salad (known in the US as “Israeli” salad), kunafa nabulsi, and other foods have been plagiarized or stolen by the Jewish occupiers in Israel for decades, a whole host of justifications have emerged in the Western press. To defend these thefts. More recently, “shakshuka omelette” and “labneh” have also been added to the list of stolen foods that Israel attributes to its kitchen.

Some casually claim that Israeli Jews are now part of the area; Thus, they have the right to share in her food, although the official Israeli account indicates the opposite. The famous Israeli historian Benny Morris claimed that Israel is “Rome” and that the Arabs are the “barbarians” threatening it, while former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak once described Israel as an “elephant in the middle of the woods”.

According to British Jewish cookbook author Claudia Roden, many European Jews who immigrated to Palestine “wanted to forget their old food because it reminded them of persecution.” according to for an article It was reported in The New York Times, “They (the Jews) found in the food of their Palestinian neighbors a connection to the land and to their ancestors.” The only paradox is that the Israeli Jews are not the neighbors of the Palestinians, but are colonial invaders who stole their lands and dishes.

Ownership of dishes

Israeli chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi and his Palestinian partner Sami Al-Tamimi seek to get rid of this nagging issue of “ownership” of dishes and colonial theft.

In one of their books, they tell us, “The hummus dish, for example, is a sensitive topic, and is undoubtedly a staple dish for the local Palestinian population, but it was also a regular dish on the dinner tables of the Jews of Aleppo who lived in Syria for thousands of years and then arrived in Jerusalem in the 1950s and 1960s. Who is more deserving of a dish of hummus, then? Neither of them. Nobody ‘owns’ any dish, because it is very likely that someone else cooked it before them and someone else before that.”

The problem is that the Jews of the city of Aleppo were not the only ones who were eating hummus, but the majority of the population, Muslims and Christians in Aleppo, also took it as a main dish. The issue is not that the Jews of Aleppo did not eat the hummus dish, but rather the definition of hummus today as a “Jewish” or “Israeli” dish with this suspicious argument. Ottolenghi and Al-Tamimi argue that attempts to claim ownership of some dishes are “useless because they don’t really matter”.

The theft of Palestinian and Syrian dishes by the Israelis has become a common phenomenon, given its prevalence in Middle Eastern cookbooks and “Israeli” restaurants in Europe and North America, to the point where Palestinians are harassed if they open restaurants serving Palestinian food. A prominent Palestinian restaurant in the Brooklyn area recently complained of online harassment by people who have never been to the restaurant, but out of hostility against Palestinians. The owner of the restaurant said – in an interview – that “naming his restaurant a ‘Palestinian’ restaurant in itself opens the door to potential harassment.”

racist assumption

There is a claim that Jews from Arab countries make up half of Israel’s population, and therefore have the same right to claim regional dishes as the Palestinians. But this claim is based on the racist assumption that the entire Arab region, from Morocco to Iraq to Yemen, has a unified kitchen. In fact, the vast majority of Arab Jews in Israel come from Morocco, Yemen and Iraq, regions of the Arab world that have their own cuisine.

The number of Syrian and Lebanese Jews living in Israel is small, and they are a minority. But even if the majority of Israeli Jews are from Greater Syria, how is it possible to make Syrian or Palestinian food “Jewish”, let alone “Israeli”, except by resorting to colonial theft?

Ottolenghi credits Claudia Rodin for paving the way for chefs like him. In an article published in the New York Times, Roden describes the cuisine of Syrian Jews as “sophisticated, rich, varied, complex, and takes time to prepare,” as if Syrian Jews have a different cuisine from Syrian Christians or Muslims, a claim that is unfounded.

Although the Jews of Greater Syria – like Muslims and Christians – have every right to claim ownership of Syrian dishes on a Syrian national or regional basis, they do not have the right to claim them as special dishes for Jews, and then market them on this basis. What made matters worse is that the European and American media celebrate these thefts as a national “Israeli” cuisine.

The writer concludes by saying that Israel entered the region through a colonial invasion, and most Arabs are currently angry that their dishes and cuisine are being plagiarized as part of Israel’s comprehensive colonial efforts to obliterate the identity of the region’s residents.

More culture

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *