Lebanon vs. Israel in Fight for Falafel

October 10, 2008 08:59 AM
by Isabel Cowles
A Lebanese industrialist is hoping to file suit against Israel for appropriating Lebanese dishes like hummus, tabbouleh and falafel.

Lebanese Lawyer Makes Culinary Accusations

A Lebanese businessman is planning to sue Israel for stealing vital elements of his culture’s cuisine, including hummus, kubbeh, fattoush, falafel and tabbouleh, which the Lebanese have considered trademark dishes from before the creation of the Jewish state.

Fadi Abboud, president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, intends the lawsuit to stop the country from marketing dishes of Lebanese origin as though they are Israeli. According to al-Arabiya network, Abboud claims that Israel is costing Lebanon revenue by marketing his country’s traditional foods: “the full extent is unknown, it is estimated at tens of millions of dollars annually,” he explained.

Israeli restaurants have been serving Middle Eastern dishes like hummus for years, though the origins of such items are widely disputed: both Lebanon and Palestine claim to be the home of hummus, for example.
Abboud has made an official request to the Ministry of Economy with the hope of branding hummus, which could take “up to a year,” he said. The registration would facilitate legal action by the Lebanese Government in defense of the country’s staple comestibles like hummus, baba ghannouj and tabbouleh.

The issue highlights deep-seated tensions between Arab and Israeli cultures. "It is not enough they [Israelis] are stealing our land. They are also stealing our civilization and our cuisine," The New Zealand Herald quotes Abboud as saying.

Reference: Lebanese-Israeli conflict


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