This is a cross-post from the The Rambling Infidel
Cultural appropriation as a concept should be viewed with skepticism and suspicion especially in today’s internet rage culture. Occasionally it can be valid but often times it misses the point and is taken way too far.
This will make me unpopular and bring me many haters but I dislike it when the Palestinian cause and the Israel/Palestine conflict in general is reduced to “cultural appropriation”. Israelis often get a lot of flak from leftists and pro-Palestine activists for unfairly staking claims to foods that are really the cultural property of Palestinian Arabs.
A popular argument you often hear among pro-Palestine activists is that part of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine is not just stealing land from Palestinians and evicting them, but also a deliberate, systematic, effort to culturally colonise Palestine. According to them, Israelis appropriate “indigenous” culture and cuisine. So, they will take foods like falafel, Shakshuka, olives, Shawamma, hummus (of course). Even fashion apparently.
In my view, food and culture are not the ownership of one specific ethnic or racial group. Cultures are fluid. They mix, evolve and change over time. Palestinian cuisine is no different. Over centuries it has had Persian and Turkish influences just like the broader Levantine cuisine in the Middle East which Palestinian and Israeli foods derive from. Technically, these specific foods I mentioned are Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian. What is also often ignored is the fact that Israel has a significant population of Jews who are of Arab descent who will share similar a cuisine to their Palestinian Arab counterparts. Is anyone going to accuse them of “cultural appropriating” their own culture?
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