Harvard finds Israeli hummus ‘deeply troubling’

 Israel buffet: offended Arab sensibilities

 Multicultural diversity rules OK, as long as it doesn’t offend Arabs! The Jerusalem Post reports that the Harvard Business School has succumbed to cultural terrorism from Lebanese student Sara el-Yafi, who garnered 4,000 ‘likes’ on her Facebook page for alleging that foods at the school’s ‘Israeli Mezze station’ were ‘appropriated’ from the Arabs.  Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, over 50 percent of Israel’s population, brought these foods with them, of course, and have been eating them since before the Arab conquest. I don’t know whether to be more affronted by Miss El-Yafi’s bigotry, or by ‘troubled’  Harvard Business School’s grovelling apology. (With thanks: Charles)

The Harvard Business School is “deeply troubled” for having offended
Arab sensibilities due to the mischaracterization of various foods
appearing on the menu of the dining room’s Israeli Mezze Station, Brian
Kenny, chief marketing & communications officer of the school, was
quoted by Al-Arabiya English as saying Friday.

The controversy
over the Israeli food station arose after Lebanese Harvard graduate Sara
el-Yafi on October 28 posted to her Facebook page a letter of protest
to the university describing the Israeli buffet’s menu as an affront to
Arabs, as Hummus and Couscous, for example, are not of Israeli origin.

“That
‘Israeli Mezze Station’ is the ultimate multicultural, multireligious
‘f’-you in the face of ALL Arabs at once from North Africa to the
Levant,” Yafi wrote.

“Israel already has a hard time keeping face
in the Arab world for the way it has ‘appropriated’ its lands since
1948, don’t make it worse for them by having them appropriate other
peoples’ foods as well,” she added.

Yafi also pointed out that
Halloumi was in fact “Cypriot,” and therefore “until Cyprus becomes
another conquered Israeli territory, Halloumi is considered NOT
Israeli.”

She concluded that at the very least the buffet should be renamed “Mediterranean Mezze Station.”

In
response to Yafi’s Facebook protest, which as of Friday had garnered
more than 4,500 “likes,” the Harvard Business School communications
officer Brian Kenny reportedly said that “we are deeply troubled that we
offended anybody by doing this buffet item, particularly considering
that our reason for doing the international buffet each day is to
celebrate cultural diversity.”

Read article in full

16 Comments

  • I think that JPost is incorrect in calling Ms. el-Yafi's response "cultural terrorism." She is right, to an extent- the cuisine on this menu is Mediterranean, and I think most people would understand that description of the menu. However, I think this is overlooking the multicultural nature of Israel itself. I think that Israeli cuisine is one of the most vivid representations of this multiculturalism. Israel doesn't just mean Jews from Europe, as I imagine most people think. Labeling the menu "Israeli cuisine" provides the opportunity to explore this multiculturalism- the food on the cuisine is currently eaten in Israel, but it has been brought to Israel by many different people from many different places- Jews, Muslims, and Christians from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Europe.

    I would also recommend listening to a recent story by NPR about a pair of restaurant owners- one an Israeli Jew and one a Palestinian- who run a hummus restaurant in London. They say that if there was a way to bring people together, it would be around a plate of hummus.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/15/162805706/jerusalem-a-love-letter-to-food-and-memories-of-home

    I think that perhaps Harvard should use this opportunity to educate their students about Israel.

    Reply
  • Furthermore, "Yafi" sounds suspiciously like the Israeli slang, "yofi".

    Did Sara steal both her first and last names, from the Jews?

    Reply
  • While such Arab sniping seems a minor annoyance, it is actually symptomatic of two major problems:
    1. Arab petrodollars are gradually imposing an anti-Semitic agenda on western institutions.
    2. The Arab world is making headway in its efforts to culturally cleanse Mideast history of Jews.

    Reply
  • Those people leave their hell hole countries but can't leave the ideas that turned their countries into a hell hole in the first place. If I didn't know that western universities are incubators of extremism I would be shocked.

    Reply
  • Excellent, Selina!

    Eliyahu, watch this space for info on the Jews of Algeria exhibition which I visited two days ago.
    I'm also reading the Bensoussan book.

    Reply
  • A nice statement, Selina. The problem is that most of these university "intellectuals" are impervious to reason and fact, as you probably know already from experience. But we should still respond, as you did

    Reply
  • Thanks for the info Eliyahu.
    I'm still fired up about this so I posted this as my FB status at first and then over the next few days try to find a way to post on that picture that has gained over 5 millions likes…if that fails, I will private message here and inform of the result on here

    'Dear Sara El-Yafi,
    Your protest on FB about an Israeli stall supplying hummus, falafel, couscous, harissa, olives etc 'appropriating and stealing' Arab culture is ignorant, even for a Middle Easterner as yourself. Your further words show that your issue is actually with Israel and Jews and not actually about the food.
    To fight over whom invented hummus is quite ridiculous. I'm an Iraqi origin Jew, did I 'steal' your pitta bread for my own?
    Somewhere along the line you conveniently forgot that everyone in the Middle East shares the same heritage, that Jews in the area are native just like Muslims and Christians and we all have the food, music and language differences. Lest you forget that Jews have existed in the Middle East far longer than Muslims, does that mean we never ate pitta and hummus before the arrival of Muhammed?
    By the way, your name is Jewish. You carry the name of the first Jewish matriarch. So do you want to give back the name which you 'stole' from us Jews? No. Because you didn't. It is a common name all around the Middle East and elsewhere being a Semitic language. Therefore your argument is invalid.
    You think a Middle Eastern native and being at Harvard would know their stuff. You clearly don't'

    Reply
  • Glad to help, Selina.

    off topic/
    If you're in France, the Jewish Museum in Paris [Musee de l'art et de l'histoire juifs -exact title?] has an excellent exhibition on Jews in Algeria which –I was surprised to see– does mention the pre-French, inferior status of Jews as dhimmis.

    Also, Georges Bensoussan, the historian connected with the Revue d'histoire de la Shoah, has come out with a new book on the history of Jews in Arab lands [or only in North Africa?] since 1850.

    Reply
  • It will be done. In fact, my whole rant will be rewritten, using that point as central. Thank you Eliyahu for that one. If only I can write on that damn picture that so many others have so everyone can see it. I'm ging to wait a day or 2 first to see if I can crack that

    Reply
  • I am offended that "Sara" el-Yafi uses the name of our Foremother and Matriarch Sarah wife of Abraham our Forefather. How does this woman dare steal or usurp a Jewish/Hebrew/Israelite name?

    Reply
  • You would think a Harvard student would at least attempt to research how these foods came to Israel before throwing a tantrum…

    Reply
  • I am writing to her and letting her know of her mistake. I can see her picture on FB and the comments on it but I can't reply myself so I am reduced to sending her a private message on FB. Let's see if she ignores it or fires back with other such rubbish

    Reply
  • Seriously? Are these the same people whining about the Kraft ads depicting Grandma's Greek Hummus? Maybe they need to get a life. In my town . . .the only restaurant selling Hummus is a GREEK restaurant and is owned by Arabs. Go figure . . .

    Reply

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