Independent

Independent mocks Israel for ‘culturally appropriating’ Shawarma


We’ve seen a lot of misleading and false charges against Israel in the British media over the years, but an article on Friday at the Independent promotes what’s truly one of the more bizarre allegations we’ve come across, in accusing the state of “gastronomic theft” for simply noting that shawarma is a popular Israeli street food.

Other reports by anti-Israel publications – such as Quds News Network and Middle East Eye – joined in the ‘mockery’.

Here are some excerpts from the Indy piece by Samuel Osborne: 

It has been popular across the Middle East for hundreds if not thousands of years, so when a newspaper [Haaretz] labelled the shawarma “an iconic Israeli street food”, it was met with widespread mockery and derision

….

The newspaper’s decision to claim the street food as Israeli was widely mocked on social media. 

Some sarcastically suggested other foods could be claimed by different nations. 

One said: “Shawarma is just about as Israeli as spaghetti is Chinese. Stop trying to steal our culture. It’s enough you’ve already stolen most of our land.

First, as @MossadIL pointed out, Jews whose families originally hail from the Middle East account for around half of Israel’s Jewish population.

Also, there’s another problem with the mockery coming from the anti-Israel camp. The criticism attacks a straw man, as nobody – including the author of the Haaretz article in question – is claiming that the food originated in Israel. Rather, the piece was simply stating that shawarma is a popular Israeli street food, a simple fact that anyone who lives here – or who has spent any time in the country – could tell you.  

Indeed, when you think of classic American street food, most didn’t originate in the US.  Hot Dogs, for instance, were invented in Frankfurt. Soft Pretzels go back centuries to Vienna, and elsewhere in Europe. Pizza is an extremely popular street food almost everywhere in the country, yet of course comes from Italy.  Saying that a specific food is now a popular street food in a particular country means just that: that it’s currently popular and ubiquitous. 

Moreover, this isn’t by any means the first such accusation against Israel. American celebrity cook Rachael Ray tweeted a photo of “Israeli nite,” with hummus, stuffed grape leaves and other edibles, to which James Zogby, the founder of Arab American Institute literally accused Israel of “cultural genocide”!

As Neema Parvini wrote at Quillette, in an article on the intellectual incoherence of the broader cultural appropriation accusation, “it is scarcely possible to find some aspect of British culture that is not in some way ‘cultural appropriation”, pointing to such disparate examples as Chicken Vindaloo and the literary origins of Shakespearean sonnets.

But, Parvini makes a broader point:

Historically, it has been the European openness not only to foreign goods, but also foreign ideas – those which work, those which enhance our physical and mental wellbeing – that has signalled the forward march of modernity. The rejection of foreign goods and ideas, commonly known as xenophobia, results in cultural isolationism. It has a poor historical record.

The eagerness of the Indy to publish and legitimise such criticism also shows that, for much of the British media, Israel can no nothing right. If they take steps to protect the their unique Jewish culture, values and religious traditions, it’s often criticised as evidence of being too insular, ethnocentric or racist.  But, when they embrace, adopt, or adapt to, the broader Arab or Middle East culture, they’re accused of “appropriation” – demonstrating again that moral or intellectual consistency are rarely concerns for activists and journalists fixated with promoting their desired anti-Israel narrative.   

 

22 replies »

  1. It is also funny to read the Islamofascists claim Israel has ethnically cleansed the land of Arabs when they are over 20% of the population, but in nearly all Arab regimes the number of Jews might as well be zero. As for the land well they have colonized over 99.93% of the land, but somehow we ‘stole nearly all their land’ with our 0.07%.

    Typical of colonial empires to support each other against the free states

  2. We demand the gentile world – and particularly the Independent – immediately cease its imperialist cultural appropriation of such Israeli/Jewish inventions as VoIP, IM, Waze, polio vaccines, relativity, the quantum wave function, nuclear energy, …. !!

  3. ”Stop trying to steal our culture. It’s enough you’ve already stolen most of our land.”
    It is NOT your land~ Jews are the indigenous people of Israel. They founded it and built it. Muslims and Arabs came thousands of years later!!

    • It’s an Eastern Mediterranean food, as common on Greece as in the Middle East. It’s the same with sweet desserts such as Baklava. The Israelis can claim as much as the Arabs can

    • Well, I’m American Indian/Mizrahi/Sephardi Jewish, and this cracks me up!!! Whenever some moron of a “Palestinian” starts whining about food as a cultural appropriation, I demand as an AmerIndian they quit their theft of Sweet and Hot Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Corn, Squash, et al. they really need to quit their crap, y’know. Makes them look more stupid than most wasicus.

      • In case you’re interested, and have not yet encountered the book, you’ll find all sorts of examples for your use in The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972) by Alfred W. Crosby, Jr. Just “google it” and you’ll see what I mean.

  4. These sort of pieces remind me of the “there are no real Jews” trope. And “Arabs are semites……”

  5. The Independent is consustently anti-Israel. Some of these comments are from well known antisemites. And, we didn’t steal any land. Zion is where the Jewish people began their journey. In 1948 the Arabs invaded the newly established state. They failed to destroy it. Since then what have the Arab states done, while Israel has prospered, one shawarma at a time.

  6. The Independent is consustently anti-Israel. Some of these comments are from well known antisemites. And, we didn’t steal any land. Zion is where the Jewish people began their journey. In 1948 the Arabs invaded the newly established state. They failed to destroy it. Since then what have the Arab states done, while Israel has prospered, one shawarma at a time.

  7. Only the Palestinians and their media pals would even think to question the origin of foods. These hyper-sensitive professional victims can only establish their own legitimacy by denying Israel theirs. This pathetic activity is getting so tiresome. By the way, please tell the Independent that bangers and mash are not native to Great Britain but were created by the Fijians.

  8. If we’re talking cultural appropriation, maybe we should consider good old “British” fish and chips. Battered fried fish had first arrived in London 200 years earlier with Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain. The Marranos were Sephardic Jews fleeing religious persecution. They brought with them a way of cooking fish that would eventually become as British as Sherlock Holmes. It took a13-year-old Jewish boy called Joseph Malin, one hundred and fifty years ago, in 1860, on the streets of the East End of London, to have the bright idea of combining fried fish with chips. (from the Mail online, and corroborated elsewhere).

    • Only the Palestinians and their media pals would even think to question the origin of foods. These hyper-sensitive professional victims can only establish their own legitimacy by denying Israel theirs. This pathetic activity is getting so tiresome. By the way, please tell the Independent that bangers and mash are not native to Great Britain but were created by the Fijians.