Chickpeas soaked overnight, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt mixed and prepared the right way make a delicious plate known across the globe as hummus (To my fellow Americans, please note that pumpkin spice is not in any way, shape or form part of the ingredients).
Hummus, a staple dish in almost every Middle Eastern household, has been claimed by many nations as “their” dish. People will tell you, with a wide smile, that “their” delectable dish of hummus, is prepared using recipes that were handed down for generations. They will stake their claim of original ownership as they share a plateful of it with you, but they will never share their secret ingredient (again, never pumpkin spice). This mostly friendly feud over ownership of a food that is really owned by none has become a playful “food wars” quip. Take for example this video trailer of Hummus!The movie
Here is the description as posted by the Israel Film Festival in Singapore on YouTube
“In Hummus! The Movie we are introduced to three main characters – a hard working Muslim woman, an ever-smiling Jew and a young Christian Arab, who despite their historical and cultural differences, have one thing in common… a passionate love of Hummus!”
Sounds playful and fun right? A fresh breath of air in this Arab-Israeli “conflict”
But this seemingly innocuous, friendly feud over a dish is not really all that innocent. While some may get worked up about others culturally appropriating what they feel is rightfully theirs, most miss the more insidious effect of such acts of propaganda.
The video is very calculated and well produced to give the viewer the impression, under the guise of a seemingly harmless cultural/religious feud, that Israel is a pluralistic, democratic society. It’s saying, “Look we have Jews, Christians and Muslims living alongside each other and having a fun, friendly dispute over food” Meanwhile every 30 seconds you get a flash of this
A map with the word Israel in bold over a region that even extends past the boundaries of current day Israel (Israel’s actual land aspirations are a subject of another article).
In the video, the mention of Palestinians is incidental and unremarkable (the gentleman saying he is Israeli, but his roots are Palestinian) and they are referred to as Arab. Arabic is nothing but white noise in the background as even the Muslim Arab woman is speaking Hebrew.
My issue is not appropriation of hummus, my issue is that the movie continues with a narrative that is untrue and, unfortunately, widely accepted in western societies. A narrative that portrays Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile Israeli bulldozers are razing Palestinian homes to make room for settlements and Israeli forces, supported with a $3.9 Billion annual aid from the US, are beating peaceful protestors for simply demanding freedom.
Such hasbara (a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Often, Hasbara efforts includes a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians) is not limited to the world of food. Israel lately has been riding the coattails of interfaith activities and initiatives to further promote its fictitious image of tolerance and coexistence.
Take for example the latest event making the rounds in the United Sates. A supposed “multicultural women’s empowerment program” where 12 Israeli women (notice Israeli) Jewish, Muslim and Christian share how they “discovered they have much more in common” living in western Galilee. This is yet another attempt at diverting attention from the realities of Israel’s atrocities on the grounds. A government that subjects millions of Palestinians, original inhabitants of the land, to the daily humiliation of military checkpoints and random curfews. The same government that often prevents congregants from attending weekly Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque. The same government that has killed thousands and injured many more.
This faithwashing of the occupation is intended to dupe us into believing a deceptive image of interfaith coexistence on the same land the Israeli government has driven its original inhabitants, who truly coexisted peacefully, from. An elaborate scheme that unfortunately many Muslims have fallen prey to (The event that took place in my town was co-sponsored by a local Muslim organization that did not do their due diligence).
Israel’s occupation of the mind is far more dangerous than its usurping of land. Their conflation of Judaism and Zionism and their constant, tireless barrage of a skewed narrative is nothing but a ploy to cover up and an attempt scrub all the blood it’s spilled, and continues to spill, over the past 70 years. Israel is an apartheid, colonialist, expansionist government that is aided and abetted by our US government’s unwavering monetary, military and diplomatic support. This intentional sanitization of an ugly occupation further victimizes its victims and we cannot, must not stay silent in the face of such injustice.
My latest article published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
“I'm color blind.”
It's a statement employed by many to convey that they see everyone equally and that race plays no factor in how they treat others. They assume, and I believe with good intention, that by doing so, they are helping improve race relations and that, by looking beyond someone's skin color, they are combating some of the divisive race issues that continue to plague our country.
Although such an approach can be viewed as admirable and, as stated above, most likely stems from a well-intended place, I believe it to be harmful and, to an extent, selfish.
It's harmful because it perpetuates the fallacy that we're a post-racial society – that race is a thing of the past and plays no factor in how people are currently viewed and treated. This simply flies into the face of current reality for many.
If we're a post-racial society, then why do we still peddle the false notion that black people are inherently more violent and disproportionately attack white people, while data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows that the “vast majority of most crimes are committed by a person of the same race as the victim”?
Or that immigrants, especially those with darker skin, are more likely to commit crime than citizens while, according to an article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology, “quantitative research has consistently shown that being foreign born is negatively associated with crime overall and is not significantly associated with committing either violent or property crime”?
If we are truly a post-racial society, then why is race still a real and palpable concern for many walking our streets? I've witnessed it with friends who have to think about when and where they are because of what their skin color, accent, language or religious garb may invoke.
The most sobering and honestly most heartbreaking account of such a thought process is a story I heard on the radio. In an interview on NPR, a self-described 6-foot-plus black Ivy League law professor said that many times, when he's alone in public, he intentionally whistles songs from “Frozen,” the Disney movie, so others would know that he has children and not perceive him as a threat! Just imagine the effort it takes to just be, and ask yourself, are we really a post-racial society?
According to current age distribution in the U.S., at least 25 percent of the population was alive and at an age that comprehended, or lived in a household that was actively engaged in, the civil rights movement in one way or another (i.e., for or against). We can't, in our celebrations of the successes of the civil rights movement, neglect the major percentage of the population that was actively against it.
I don't think that enacting a few laws simply made those who were vehemently and often violently against it change their mind. We need to stop sanitizing history and address these issues head on. It will take hard work over a couple of generations to clean that stain in order for us to truly become a post-racial society.
“I'm color blind” is also selfish because, in a way, one is saying “I don't see color, I don't contribute to these issues, therefore this is not my problem.” History, however, does not stop and start with you, and you can't detach yourself from society. If you're blessed enough to not experience what the marginalized experience, then it is your duty as a member of society to help actively reduce factors leading to their marginalization.
Race is a social construct. It has no biological bases. If we can Frankenstein it into what it is now, then we can just as well deconstruct it and put it to better use. You can't simply be complacent, because if you're complacent, then you're complicit.
Not seeing someone's color, and how that color is perceived, viewed and treated, will not make the problems associated with it magically go away. You need to see the full spectrum of color and all that that entails; you need to acknowledge all of it; and you need to address it. Each and everyone of us has to work, in our own capacity, to contain such evil that continues to plague our society.
That is done in many ways, but the best way is the way in which you feel most able. It can be by denouncing the use of the N word when you're with a group of non-black friends, or by telling your story, which would negate a negative propagandistic stereotype about “your people,” or by simply upholding yourself to the highest moral of “treating others as you wish to be treated.”
You need to see me, and in full color, because if you don't see me, then I don't exist.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark