BBC piece : ‘Zionists stole foods from Palestinians’

Travellers to Israel will find it hard to find ‘Jewish food’, alleges journalist Sarah Treleaven for BBC Travel(article not visible if you are in the UK). That’s because the Zionists appropriated ‘Palestinian’ dishes in order to construct an ‘authentic’ national narrative! Mizrahim and Sephardim who have been eating these foods for millennia are, not for the first time, invisible in the BBC’s world view.

“One of the biggest shocks for many foreign
visitors to Israel is the lack of familiar Jewish cuisine. Where are
the smoked salmon, bagels and cream cheese at breakfast? What about the
delis that define Jewish cuisine from Montreal to Los Angeles? Or
the kugel (a casserole made from egg noodles or potato), gefilte fish
(an appetizer made from poached fish) and matzoh ball soup served at
Jewish tables around the world?

“The early Zionists eagerly adopted Palestinian dishes,
such as falafel, hummus, and shawarma, while in recent years Israelis
have developed a more diversified palate. Still, ‘Jewish food’ remains
scarce. But very few visitors know the reasons behind the dearth of it
in Israel: despite the fact that the early settlers were mostly
Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, they forsook traditional Jewish food
both because of scarcity but also in deliberate service to the formation of a new national narrative.”

adherents to the Zionist project, committed to creating a Jewish state
in the territory now known as Israel, sought to abandon vestiges of
their past. Just as the European settlers favoured Hebrew over Yiddish
and khakis over frock coats and homburgs, they also purposefully chose
to eat indigenous foods over Ashkenazi ones.

“The adoption of indigenous food lent the early European implants an air of authenticity.
The production of local ingredients – the things that grew well in the
desert and along the Mediterranean coastline, and the many dishes
adapted from Arab kitchens – became part of the Zionist narrative.”

Edward Solomon has given Point of No Return permission to quote his rebuttal: 

“This article is replete with out-and-out lies and falsehoods. Based
on Sarah Treleaven’s limited and blinkered view of Jewish history and
cuisine, Israeli food should consist of lokshen, bagels, gefilte fish,
matzah ball soup, kugel, chopped liver and cholent.

The rich and
varied panoply of Middle Eastern and North African Jewish foods, such as
sabikh, tagine, tbit, kubbah, loubiah, kahi, and countless other dishes
of Moroccan, Egyptian, Syrian, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Indian,
and Iraqi origins documented by writers such as Linda Dangoor and
Claudia Roden, cooked and eaten in Israel, are completely glossed over
in the interest of presenting a one-sided, politicised narrative that
paints the Zionist Jews as Ashkenazic interlopers who stole Palestinian
dishes to claim for their own.

This narrative falls down because (a) the majority of Jews in Israel
are Sephardi and Mizrahi, not Ashkenazi, and (b) they did not
misappropriate Palestinian foods, but brought with them the many and
varied cuisines of their homelands, which are enjoyed today throughout
the land of Israel.

This article is misleading and shortsighted
in its attempt to distort Jewish history and cuisine to suit a
distinctly Leftist, anti-Zionist narrative.”

BBC Watch


  • Some writers, such as Sarah Treleaven, ought to stick to poetry or fiction rather than writing about something they know absolutely nothing about, and make total fools of themselves. This piece is clearly charged with an agenda to delegitimise Israel, and nothing more.

  • I look forward to Sarah Treleaven's follow-up report detailing how fish and chips is a dish appropriated — no, stolen by the insidious Brits from a Jewish vendor in London's East End.

  • What a joke !!!
    Has it occurred to the writer that maybe the Mizrahi and Sephardi
    cuisine is also much more healthy as well as tasty than her kugel and
    smoked meat or gefilte fish ?
    Not too many tourists run to try gefilte fish I bet !

    the Sabih for example is part and parcel of the Iraqi Tebitt.
    It was cooked by our forefathers in Babylonia after the Jews were exiled earlier than 300 BC
    Tebit is cooked with rice chicken and our those famous browned eggs ( Sabih is made with these
    brown eggs)

    Cholent is cooked with meat and potatoes….,

    Smoked meat in a warm country like Israel is way too heavy to digest .

    Jews existed in Israel and lived continually in the Middle East such as Egypt , Babylon ,
    Morocco , Persia , since the birth of Judaism .

    Abraham came from UR …a city in today s Iraq….the Talmud and most the laws of Judaism
    Such a the tephilim , the tsitsit , the talit, the ketuba , the simple burial , even
    The Yeshivot were first conceived in Babylon .which happens to be in modern day Iraq.

    The Jews from Arab lands have lived continuously there for more than 2000 years till they
    Got ethnically cleansed out of all Arab countries , and this is due to the recreation of Israel
    they were stripped of everything they owned , property , businesses , schools, hospitals ,
    money , dignity …all they brought with them to Israel was their delicious cuisine …and now
    The writer of this article wants to even take that away from them as well.

    is the author of this horridly skewed article that ignorant or is her biased Views
    that vilely blinding I ask ?
    I am furious at how far people would stoop to influence opinions ! Ignorant as they are !
    Yuk .

  • One of the biggest shocks for many foreign visitors to Israel is the lack of familiar Jewish cuisine.

    This is hilarious!

    This sentence alone could be fisked to no end had it been a lonely occurrence of accute eurocentrism. Unfortunately, we are so often plagued with symptoms of this malady it's not funny anymore.

    I welcome anyone to familiar Jewish food:dafina, couscous, za'louk, msemmen, beghrir, married sardines, matboukha,pastela, mhammar, etc. etc. all widely available in Israel, none "stolen" from the Palestinians.

  • If Israel were at the South Pole the BBC would scream that the Arabs invented ice.

  • The cultural appropriation charge is part of the comprehensive attack on the legitimacy of Zionism and Israel. Given that the majority of Sephardi Jews came after 48, it would be good to have some evidence of the Jewish contribution to Middle Eastern food generally and specifically re the early cuisine of Zionists in the early part of the 20 century. However it is an example of Jews being dammed whatever they do. Doubtless it made perfect logistical an economic sense to use local produce and cuisine.


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