Hummus, Falafel and Shawarma ARE Arab foods. And they are also Israeli foods. Those who claim differently, too often lack the knowledge or the wisdom to see things as they really are.
I already addressed the issue of subjecting hummus and other middle-eastern foods to political disputes. You can read all about it in my post Hummus, is it Israeli or Arab. But I can’t help commenting on this piece, a column by George S. Hishmeh titled ” The undeclared war on Arab cuisine”.
Hishmeh says: “My niece, Irene, called me a few days ago indignant that some of her American friends, including some Jews, keep describing typical Arab foods such as falafel, hummus and shawarma, among others, as Israeli. She wanted to know how she can convince them this is not the case.”
Later on he more or less explains how Israelis are trying to steal the fame of Arab cuisine, a claim I already know for some time – only he goes back some 40 years to establish that claim, involving people and deeds which were better left alone.
Since Hishmeh insisted on giving his reader a history lesson, I’m afraid there’s a need for some additions and corrections.
Israel only exists for 60 years, but there were Jewish people here long before that. There was always a Jewish community here – when falafel was brought here from Egypt by the Copts, and when hummus was eaten here by the Crusaders, and also when
Ottoman Turks brought Shawarma with them.
In our era, those foods are considered Israeli, because it was mostly Israelis who brought them to Europe and the US. And, because they are more common in Israel than in any Arab country. And I mean common both between Israeli Jews AND Israeli Arabs – which people like Hishmeh insist are Palestinians.
I do respect the fact that some Israeli Arabssee themselves as Palestinians, just like the Arabs in the occupied territories. What I don’t understand is why Hishmeh don’t respect the fact that there are also Arabs who see themselves as Israelis, having and Israeli citizenship, speaking both the official Israeli languages (Arab and Hebrew) and sharing a glamorous cuisine with the Jewish citizens of Israel.