Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Beware “the feta precedent”

I like my hummus as much as the next non-Middle Easterner, but is such squabbling really necessary?

The president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association Fadi Abboud, said he is preparing to file an international lawsuit against Israel for allegedly “taking the identity of some Lebanese foods” and thus violating a food copyright.

Most Israelis seem to concede their indebtedness to Arab cuisine, and by any rational calculation, it doesn’t really matter what the “identity” of hummus is.  Apparently, though, Greece set a precedent for this sort of alimentary litigation, suing for — and winning — a monopoly on the production of feta cheese.  Throw in the more rational grievances long simmering in Middle Eastern politics, and you have the recipe for an environment far more explosive than even the spiciest hummus.

[I]t’s not just the Lebanese who are riled; it’s the subject of low-level complaints among Palestinians too, along the lines of: “First they take our land, now our food …” In a similar vein, Palestinians within Israel sometimes grumble about the Jewish state seizing language, since Modern Hebrew has borrowed from the Arabic dictionary – of curses, in particular.

I was told yesterday that there’s a word in Hebrew that means something along the lines of “to scrape the hummus off one’s plate with pita bread.”  Perhaps the disputants should avail themselves of this spirit of sharing and resolve their differences over a plate of (conspicuously non-national) hummus.

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October 8, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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