Op-Ed: A response to FOI’s Taste of Israel event

We — Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — are writing in regards to Tufts Friends of Israel’s (FOI) Taste of Israel event planned for today, Oct. 27. According to the Facebook event, Taste of Israel is meant to “showcase the foods that make up Israel and the cultures it represents.” SJP considers this event to be both an erasure of Palestinian history and culture as well as an intentional delinking of Israeli culture from the ongoing military occupation of Palestine. Israel’s continual colonization of Palestine goes beyond the conquest of land and the military occupation; it encompasses culture — notably cuisine — that works to erase and appropriate Palestinians and Palestinian land.

The event is not advertised as being political, but when Israel is currently occupying Palestine and affecting its people, while erasing Palestinian history and resistance, the power dynamics between Israel and Palestine cannot be ignored. An event like Taste of Israel can often be the first event many new students (and prospective students) are exposed to about Israel and Palestine. To mask the complex history and military occupation of Palestine in a food and culture event without acknowledging the occupation is misleading and evasive.

Last year, at the FOI Taste of Israel event, we offered chocolate to students with facts attached about the Israeli occupation, describing the amount of Palestinian farmland destroyed by illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the detrimental effects of the Israeli blockade on Gaza’s economic and social life. We challenge FOI to explore and acknowledge that Palestinian history and culture, as well as the continued military occupation and settler colonialism in Palestine, are inherently linked to the cuisines presented at this event. Culture is not apolitical, and neither is food. FOI’s choice to claim historically Palestinian/Arab foods as Israeli is a form of cultural colonialism. As stated in The National, critiques of Israeli claims to Palestinian/Arab foods are “not about petty claims and counterclaims, rather, the story is one of colonial, cultural appropriation and resistance to those attempts.”

We invite students who are thinking about attending FOI’s Taste of Israel event to instead come with members of SJP to a movie as part of the annual Boston Palestine Film Festival at the Somerville Theater tonight (Thursday, Oct. 27) at 7 p.m. The film, “Oriented,” “follows the lives of three gay Palestinian friends confronting their national and sexual identities.” 

Students for Justice in Palestine does not think that this film is perfect. The lives and experiences of the three friends whose stories are told in the film do not represent the narratives of all queer Palestinians (nor does it claim to). Still, this film pushes the audience to be critical of viewing Tel Aviv as the “gay haven” it is often seen as for queer Palestinians.

We invite students who are thinking about going to Friends of Israel’s Taste of Israel event to join us in going to this movie instead, and to critically engage with the film. If you do decide to attend the Taste of Israel event, we encourage you to be critical about whose food is offered and which narratives are presented and ignored.

Editor’s note: If you would like to send your response or make an op-ed contribution to the Opinion section, please email us at tuftsdailyoped@gmail.com. The Opinion section looks forward to hearing from you.


40 Responses

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  1. Piers Echols-Jones
    Oct 27, 2016 - 02:38 PM

    What evidence do you have that FOI is intentionally delinking the Israeli military presence in Palestine from Israeli culture? None here. What evidence is there that the two are linked in the first place? None here.

    Erasure and appropriation are different things – one means elimination and the other incorporation. Which one is FIO contributing to by showcasing food? Who even cares about which culture the food originated in? Unless FIO is claiming that foods like hummus or falafel originated in Israel and that other cultures in the region have no claim to such foods (I doubt it), then why is this event so politically skewed that it would require a boycott?

    Why is it necessary to acknowledge a military conflict during a food showcase? In what way is an omission of the conflict inherently either misleading or evasive?

    Obviously, I ask these questions because SJP has no good answers for them, nor do the cited articles. No, the food showcased will probably not be distinctly Israeli. After all, the country is less than 70 years old, and much of it’s citizens are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Of course their food will be inspired by other people in the region.

    This piece, and the articles linked utterly fail to convince. They are filled with bombastic rhetoric, making high claims of widespread transgressions without in any way substantiating the presence of any actual harm. If any harm is done, it is by close-minded individuals who believe that it is wrong for others to enjoy certain foods based on the circumstances of their birth. Frankly, the sentiment of this article is xenophobic-by-proxy.

    • mxm123
      Oct 27, 2016 - 08:57 PM

      Well duh !!! They deliberately don’t talk about the captive Palestinians. And you haven’t noticed. Awwww.

      • Brownstudent
        Oct 28, 2016 - 12:23 PM

        When SJP has events, do they talk about how one third of the Palestinians support stabbing babies in the throat?

        When SJP has events, do they talk about how 80% of the Palestinians reject the two state solution?

        When SJP has events, do they talk about how 75% of the Palestinians support attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel?

        When SJP has events, do they talk about how there has never been a Palestinian state in the region, ever?

        When SJP has events, do they talk about the Hebron Massacre and the many butcheries of Jewish children carried out by the Palestinian Arabs long before Israel existed, let alone any occupation?

        When SJP has events, do they talk about Palestine is a brutal Islamist dictatorship and Arab apartheid entity?


        Then stop whining.

        • mxm123
          Oct 28, 2016 - 08:07 PM

          They don’t have events celebrating their prison like existence. The rest of your crap is just that.

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 12:53 PM

            But the Palestinians are famous for celebrating for events like when 19 Muslims flew planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. They are famous for celebrating when their brothers stab pregnant mothers or kill young children.

            Yes, it’s true, they celebrate death. You can twist the facts anyway which-way but that does not change the truth about the Palestinians celebration over infidels death.

    • Arafat
      Oct 31, 2016 - 10:41 AM

      Excellent comment!

  2. Monk
    Oct 27, 2016 - 03:16 PM

    Very comical op-ed. SJP could be the basis for a running SNL skit, a la Emily Litella.
    Dear SJP, we’re talking about cuisine here.
    SJP: Oh. Never mind.

  3. Sherlock
    Oct 27, 2016 - 04:43 PM

    Here’s a recommendation for you SJP: go and attend the event yourselves! See what FOI has to say about Israelis and their cultures.

    If Israeli culture can’t be apolitical, then Chinese culture can’t be apolitical, nor Turkish, nor Russia, nor Arab, nor American.

  4. TuftsAlum89
    Oct 27, 2016 - 06:41 PM

    Israel is a country that is home to many people of differing cultural backgrounds. There are Jews who have been there for generations, and more recent immigrants. There are Arabs who have been there for generations, and others who moved there more recently. There are Christians, Armenians, Druze and Bedouins. Each has played a role in shaping the culture of Israel. “Palestine” is not a country. It was never a sovereign nation. It is a word that was assigned by the Roman Empire to a geographic region, a territory that was part of the Ottoman Empire, a British Mandate, but never a sovereign Arab nation. Israel did not replace “Palestine.”

    So, no, SJP… it is not FOI who is creating a false cultural narrative for political purposes, it is you. Israel is a nation with a culture that is rich, joyous and worthy of celebration.

    • mxm123
      Oct 27, 2016 - 08:54 PM

      Except, dear Alum you conveniently side step the millions of Palestinians who are caged in the West Bank and Gaza. Why lie ?

      • Monk
        Oct 28, 2016 - 07:35 AM

        As long as they leave their homicide vests and knives at home, aren’t they are free to travel?

        • mxm123
          Oct 28, 2016 - 07:41 AM

          Actually no. You’d have known it if you didn’t suck up the Hasbara on a daily basis

          • Monk
            Oct 28, 2016 - 08:18 AM

            Well, I don’t know anything about Hasbara. But it seems to me that Palestinians are responsible for their conditions. Just as other ethnic and racial agitators around the world give their people a bad reputation, so it is with Palestinians. The few exploitative narcissists seize power, get all of the media attention and sabotage healthy society. They exist in every demographic.
            The problem here is the effort to legitimize the bad apples.

          • mxm123
            Oct 28, 2016 - 08:08 PM

            Sure. Blame the victim.

          • Monk
            Oct 29, 2016 - 09:36 AM

            I am blaming the homicidal bombers and stabbers and those who indoctrinate them. They are the ones who oppress Palestinians, certainly not those serving Israeli cuisine at Tufts, as SJP ludicrously purports.

          • mxm123
            Oct 29, 2016 - 09:43 AM

            Really bro. I guess we just need to look away from all that ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

          • Monk
            Oct 29, 2016 - 10:24 AM

            Looking away doesn’t make something go away. And the overwhelming offensive is against Israel by Arabs, not the other way. It’s easy to be misled by the anti-Israel propaganda tsunami.

          • mxm123
            Oct 29, 2016 - 12:15 PM

            That is as long as you conitnue to pretend there is no ethnic cleansing. Great.

          • WowYou'reAnIdiot
            Oct 29, 2016 - 08:43 PM

            Do you have ANYTHING to contribute other than BS cliches?

            Or maybe you just don’t know what ethnic cleansing is?

          • mxm123
            Oct 30, 2016 - 08:00 AM

            Why so upset that i point out Israeli Apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Why deny bro. Are you some kinda fanatic ?

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 10:33 AM

            Ethnic cleansing?

            In the West, where many of the war criminals from the 1971 atrocities fled, the Jamaat movement has become a powerful leader within Muslim communities.

            Bangladesh’s official figures claim Pakistani soldiers and their Jamaat collaborators killed an estimated three million people, raped 200,000 women and forced tens of millions to flee their homes. At the time of the genocide, one US official was quoted saying, “It is the most incredible, calculated thing since the days of the Nazis in Poland.”

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 10:32 AM

            While the Muslim population in Israel grows at a normal rate this is happening in a Muslim country, but Mxm never comments on this.
            The Kurdish people, one of the largest minorities in Iran, have been heavily targeted by the Islamic Republic since its 1979 inception when Ayatollah Khomeini famously declared a “fatwa” [religious decree] against the province of Kurdistan and crushed opposing unrest by sending 110,000 troops complete with heavy artillery, fighter jets and armed helicopters. The fighting was so intense that residents were forced to flee into the harsh mountains. Kurdish men have been executed, dozens at a time.
            As Kurdistan continued its resistance, on September 17, 1992 three prominent Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders — Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan — along with their translator, Nouri Dehkordi, were gunned down by Iranian government agents in the Mykonos Greek restaurant in Berlin, Germany. From 1988-1998, Islamic Republic operatives carried out serial assassinations of opposition leaders and Iranian dissident intellectuals, both inside and outside Iran — assassinations later dubbed “the chain murders of Iran.”
            Two prominent Kurdish political prisoners, Mr. Habibollah Golparipour (arrested 2007) and Mr. Shirko Moarefi (arrested 2008) were hanged respectively on October 26 and November 4, 2013. According to many international human rights organizations and various media; there has been a surge in the rate of executions after President Rouhani’s election. 198 people have been hanged just in 2014 — a period of only two and half months.

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 10:30 AM

            This is on Muhammad’s orders: “I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim.” (Sahih Muslim 19.4366)
            “Saudi Mufti again calls for destruction of all churches on Arabian Peninsula,” from Pravoslavie, September 30 (thanks to Filip):
            Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah has once again called for the destruction of all Churches on the Arabian Peninsula.

            Bin Abdullah, head of the Ulema Council and the Standing Committee on Fatwas, made this statement after a presentation by the Kuwaiti parliamentarian Osama Al-Munawer of the bill that bans construction of new non-Muslim religious buildings in Kuwait.
            The Mufti stated that, according to Islamic law, all churches in the region must be demolished; i.e., Islam is the only legal religion here. The words of Muhammad that “there cannot be two religions on the Arabian peninsula” the head of the Sunni always interprets in favor of Islam.

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 10:29 AM

            So when a Palestinian slashes a three month old Israeli babies throat who should we blame then?

          • TuftsAlum89
            Oct 28, 2016 - 11:49 AM

            Hasbara is the Hebrew word for “explaining.” You clearly don’t want anything explained to you if it conflicts with your bigoted and entirely false narrative.

          • mxm123
            Oct 29, 2016 - 08:51 AM

            Nonsense. Hasbara has long been synonymous with Israeli propaganda. Its just that bigots like you who wish to cover for Israeli apartheid want to make up crap.

          • TuftsAlum88
            Oct 29, 2016 - 08:45 PM

            Wow…you’re not only a bigot… you’re really ignorant too.

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 10:28 AM

            mxm123 has a long history of spreading hatred of Israel on sites just like this one. He appeals to the most base. He is relentless and relentlessly stupid.

          • Arafat
            Oct 31, 2016 - 10:26 AM

            Hasbara? Another Goebbels word used by today’s anti-Semites. Like paper-cuts these words slowly but surely suck Israel of its life’s blood, and those who use them are today’s N*zis.

      • TuftsAlum89
        Oct 28, 2016 - 11:47 AM

        If they are “caged,” then it is by their own leaders, the PA/Hamas, who insist on an ongoing policy of rejecting all compromises in favor of a goal of eliminating the Jewish state in its entirety.

        • Arafat
          Oct 31, 2016 - 10:24 AM

          Caged? It is words like this that Goebbels would have used.

          Caged, apartheid, occupation, all are lies, and gross distortions used to delegitimize the only country in the Middle East where human rights and democracy are practiced. Goebbels’ ghost lives on.

  5. Brownstudent
    Oct 28, 2016 - 12:21 PM

    What a bunch of whiners. If you don’t like that Jews are eating food, don’t go to the event. Or even better, leave Tufts altogether. It’s not like anyone is going to miss you.

  6. Mohd
    Oct 28, 2016 - 02:23 PM

    Great post! Thank you for voicing the erasure of Palestinian lives in their food as well as other means by Israel.

    • Arafat
      Oct 31, 2016 - 10:34 AM

      Actually if one Googles “obesity and Palestinians” we discover that Palestinians rank within the top ten of the world’s most obese people.

  7. only the truth
    Nov 12, 2016 - 03:42 PM

    There is no real palestinian identity. The so called palestinian people were created by the soviet union and its allies during the cold war. The name palestine comes from a desire by the romans to erase the jewish connection to the holy land.

    The british protectorate of “Palestine” included Jordan. Jordan is 80% “palestinian”. Why not make Jordan Palestine? Because it would entail accepting that jews have as much a right to their homeland in that part of the world than muslims.

  8. only the truth
    Nov 12, 2016 - 03:43 PM

    “Palestinian” food is just lebanese or syrian food. Guess what, hundreds of thousands of jews expelled from those countries eat exactly the same food.

  9. only the truth
    Nov 12, 2016 - 03:45 PM

    mxm123 is from rural arkansas, surely a trump supporter.

  10. Serge Small
    Nov 16, 2016 - 09:23 PM

    mxm123, you are hurting your own people, but then again, you don’t really care, nor have the intelligence of a true world view.
    Did you forget that Israel pulled out of Gaza years ago? The only ones that keep them caged is Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian administration. Maybe those organizations can use some of the money they spend on mansions on their own people.

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