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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Falafel, shwarma and a side order of slander

Gulf News published an article by an Arab American being very upset over people describing foods such as falafel, shwarma and hummous as being "Israeli" foods.

The author backs this up with reference to "tens" of websites that do describe those foods as Israeli.

While this may be the case, I am unaware of any serious person who claims that Israelis originated any of these foods, and a quick perusal of Google shows that the top three sites with the keywords "Israeli foods" are quite open about the origins of these foods. The one site he mentions explicitly, in Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry, is quite clear that these foods are not of Israeli origin.

In general this would be just another funny story about Arab paranoia, as the author moans "this quiet Israeli attempt at usurping Arab foods. " But then the author, full of his self-righteousness over sthis horrible travesty that he has made up, goes from absurdity to slander.
As a matter of fact, Arab-Americans are used to reading sometimes the wildest of statements made against Arabs or Muslims. Two such items appeared in the press this week.

In an Op-Ed column published in The Washington Post, Nina Shea complains about the alleged "cleansing campaign" now underway against non-Muslim minorities in Iraq. Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Centre for Religious Freedom and a commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, saw this action as similar to what happened "sixty years ago (to) Iraq's flourishing Jewish population, a third of Baghdad, (that) fled in the wake of coordinated bombing and violence against them". Of the 125,000 only 6,000 remained in Iraq and the remainder settled in Israel.

You would think that Shea would have checked her facts before making these outrageous and disputed allegations.

Naeim Giladi, an Iraqi Jew who fled to Israel and later settled in the US, maintains in an article that appeared in The Link (April - May 1998) and his book, Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad Eliminated Jews that "the terrible truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews". He also pointed out that Wilbur Crane Eveland, a former senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), wrote in his book, Ropes of Sand, published in 1980, that "in attempts to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to terrorise the Jews, the Zionists planted bombs in the US Information Service library and in synagogues (and) soon leaflets began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel."
This is an oft-repeated lie about Israel that has been proven wrong by none other than the favorite "post-Zionist" historian Tom Segev, who never misses an opportunity to blame anything and everything on Israel if he can find the flimsiest pretext.

The author then goes into the Brooklyn Arab public school issue and does little better.

At least he ends off slightly better:
Now that the record is hopefully set straight, I am just leaving to have a falafel sandwich at the best falafel and shawarma sandwich in the Washington, D.C. area, prepared by two Palestinian Arab cooks from Israel and working at a neighbourhood Jewish (kosher) restaurant.