Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | November 8, 2009

Hummus Wars: All We Are Saying Is Give Chickpeas a Chance

What follows below is an excerpt from a piece I recently wrote for Pajamas Media. The piece can be read in its entirety here.

The first time I was accused of “stealing food” was back in the late 1980s. It was World Fair week on my Boston-based college campus, and representatives from several of the other Middle Eastern student groups accused us, the Israelis, of “stealing” their national food and claiming it as our own. That food was, of course, hummus, and we, of course, were not impressed by their position. As I recall, we thought it was, in fact, a rather preposterous accusation, and I’d like to think we let them know we thought so.

And here we are in 2009, where hummus libel is an issue once again. There was great joy in Lebanon recently as a group of Lebanese chefs broke the world record for making the largest plate of hummus, and rightly so. After all, it isn’t everyday that Guinness world records are broken, especially records of such unique, tasty distinction. What made this record-breaking moment so special, though, what really made the organizers happy, was that not only had they made history, but by doing so, they’d emerged victorious and brought pride to Lebanon. And what was it, exactly, that made this particular achievement so sweet, do you ask? It’s quite simple, really. The previous world record for creating the largest plate of hummus was held by a group in Israel…

Read the rest of it here.

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  1. The whole thing is so utterly insane, isn’t it? I mean really, hummus?

    At least this way they’re arguing with us by fork, rather than by rocket.


  2. Liza,

    I enjoyed the piece up until the end where you write plaintively, ”

    Are people really so full of loathing, so full of revulsion that they find it necessary to turn even the most innocuous of happenings into a point of contention? Can we not build on our mutual love for mashed chickpeas, instead of turning hummus into an unwitting accomplice in a war not of its choosing? Come on, people. All we are saying is give chickpeas a chance.”

    I’m really tired of people who are smart and discerning, but who end up saying chirpy sweet garbage like that.

    The answer is: YES! People really are so full of loathing. Actually not all people: Arabs. They loathe you. Get used to it. And stop with the “c’mon people” talk. You sound so superior. “Oh, Arabs, this is so stupid.”

    It’s not stupid. LOOK: I support Israel 200%. But you dispossessed the Arabs and they hate you.

  3. Er… I am afraid, Liza, I have more bad news for you in that vein: Abu Gosh folks will go for a new humus record in a month or so. Something in the region of 4 tons.

    Bon appetit!

  4. Robin: You eat hummus with a fork? Oh dear… 😉

    Snoopy: I heard about that! Could be good news for my writing career. 😀

  5. Jay: I actually debated whether or not to allow your comment to pass moderation, given that I found it incredibly rude and patronizing (and I won’t even tell you the word used by one of my friends to describe you after he read what you wrote). The only reason I allowed it to pass was so that I could respond.

    First of all, bear in mind that Pajamas Media uses editors, and that my original ending didn’t sound quite so “plaintive”, as you put it. And I’m sorry you think that it’s “sweet chirpy garbage”, since the original version clearly worked rather well for John Lennon. Perhaps you didn’t get that reference?

    I think you’re wrong. Many Arabs do loathe us but many do not, and you do a disservice to all of them by lumping them all together in one group. And, if you think that sinking to such childish depths as accusations of “food stealing” – all in the name of hatred of Israel – is acceptable, that really makes you no better than those who participate in such absurd exercises.

    As for your suggestion that I “get used to it”, I think I’ll pass, given that I’m not one who’s prone to complacency, especially when it comes to the region in which I live. And while I would never address such a sweeping, generalized statement about the idiocy of battling over hummus to all Arabs (as you have done), I will freely admit that such battles are stupid and petty when there are far more serious issues at hand, and that anyone who harbors such feelings of nationalistic glory over such an irrelevant “milestone” are rather pathetic indeed.

    And you give us far too much credit by suggesting that we dispossessed all the Arabs, as I’ve always been under the impression that we’ve dispossessed “only” the Palestinians and the Druze living on the Golan Heights, who are rather enamored of the idea of Syrian rule as opposed to Israeli rule… If you’re at all interested in my thoughts vis a vis the Palestinians, I suggest you read my blog, though I do have a feeling that you’ll be less than pleased with my left-leaning writings…

    By the way, I always find it most disturbing when someone feels the need to qualify their unmitigated attack by throwing in a line about how much they support the cause at hand, as though that somehow gives them free reign to say whatever they like.

  6. […] are just a tad mundane, while others – quite a trip From politics to hummus – sometimes they overlap Perhaps you’ll disagree with me, but please don’t say it’s […]

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