The Hummus Conflict


Some may be lead to believe that the current Middle Eastern conflict is at a boiling point, that any minor dispute may cause an eruption between the region’s countries. This region has been fighting, raising tensions and most of all sustaining violence  each and every day. It is difficult to believe that Israel and  its neighboring states can discover any similarities amongst themselves. However, there is at least one thing that this region shares in common, especially Israel and Lebanon, and that is hummus! Although these countries’ cultures share this fresh delicious dip, Israel and Lebanon still found a way to make it a competition…

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So one may ask who really has the rights to call Hummus a traditional dish? Well, Israel and Lebanon partook in a “friendly” culinary battle to see who can ultimately claim Hummus as their own. In May 2010, Lebanon broke open Israeli’s record for creating the largest bowl of chickpea dip earlier that year, constructing a bowl holding ten tons to Israeli’s previous four tons of hummus. Lebanon also achieved a Guinness world record of five tons of falafel, another Middle Eastern treat. From a competition standpoint, Lebanon surpassed Israel in the quantitative goal and has so called “bragging rights,” though this competition meant much more to some. According to Chantal Tohme, one of the Lebanese hummus event’s organizers,

“It is more than about the Guinness World Record. It is about proving that hummus is Lebanese…it is being promoted as a non-Lebanese dish, and as an Israeli traditional dish, and it is not. And if we go back to history we see that it came from Lebanon.”

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From having the opportunity to travel to Israel and taste the freshly produced Hummus, I can say that it is absolutely delicious. I can only assume, if Lebanese Hummus is really that different, that it is also a delectable treat. It is interesting to realize that citizens from both countries and people all around the world enjoy the dish, yet food connoisseurs in Israel and Lebanon can’t be at ease until it is recognized as one’s national dish. Lebanon wants to settle the matter by registering hummus with the European Union as Beirut’s national dish. However, apart from national pride, the rivalry may also be about controlling the world’s hummus market, which is worth 1 billion globally, according to Fadi Abboud, President of The Association of Lebanese Industrialists. Abboud claims, “Israeli companies are depriving Lebanese companies of huge potential earnings by exporting hummus they make with traditional Lebanese recipes.” Seeing as though these countries have nonintegrated markets, I don’t see how Israel can be suppressing their ability to sell Hummus.

Hummus needs to be a commodity in the Middle East that unites the region rather than forcing them more apart. Habeeb Daoud, chef and owner of Ezba, a Palestinian-Lebanese restaurant in northern Israel says, “It forces the two nations to cross boundaries. Because in the hummus restaurants, there is little room and Jews and Arabs must sit at the same tables. It forces people to meet.” What are the chances that Israel and Lebanon create a hummus bowl together? Does one country really make better Hummus?

References:

Greenberg, Samara. “Middle Eastern Food Fight – Jewish Policy Center.” Jewish Policy Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/blog/2010/05/middle-eastern-food-fight&gt;.

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12 thoughts on “The Hummus Conflict

  1. It’s not really about the hummus. It’s about authenticity. Hummus is just a way to point out to that Lebanon and Israel can never get together. Lebanese people made a big deal out of it only trying to show that they will never agree to any sort of agreement with the Israelis, even if it was concerning a simple subject such as hummus. The massacres and injustices Israel does to the Palestinians and Lebanese are much more important than having a common dish and being happy about it.

    1. I understand how this conflict is more about authenticity, it is just interesting to see how something as joyful as food, can be regarded as a conflict. This does emphasize your point on how Lebanese and Israeli relations are still weak. Why do some Lebanese individuals speak out against such a simple matter, only to demonstrate their disagreement? Most are already aware that Lebanese don’t want anything to do with Israel. I would agree that the massacres are a much more important matter, and do go both ways; but in the end, if hummus is a commonality between the two countries, why can’t people accept that and “share” in the culture and deliciousness of this dish?

      1. Justin, I’ll provide myself as a sample of Lebanese mentality. Lynn, correct me if I am wrong.

        I, as a Lebanese citizen, do not acknowledge the legitimacy of the political entity Israel. Not only do I not want anything to do with Israel, but I just simply do not accept to think of its existence as normal. That is why I wouldn’t accept to celebrate a cultural dish with Israelis, because that would be my personal input in the general international attempt of normalizing Israel’s existence.

      1. There is nothing that can be common between a nation like Lebanon with its legal and official existence, and a place like Israel which is non-existing. The common thing we have with Palestine on the other hand, is our Arabic language among other similarities that combine any two Arab countries.

  2. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Human foible at its most human. I’d like to paraphrase Nietzsche: “Human, all too human.” I’m not sure if what he meant by this applies in this case, but I like quoting Nietzsche. In any case, I will be seeing the world’s largest pumpkin pie this Friday at the Circleville, Ohio Pumpkin Show. I don’t care what other pumpkin show organizers say – I BELIEVE this is the world’s largest pumpkin pie!

    1. That quote can definitely fit. Human’s have the capacity to shape their themselves, whether it be strong and resilient, or weak and passive. All in all, humans are simply human and are prone to error and in this case competition in an attempt to prove superiority (if that can really be argued with such extreme views in the Middle East). In addition, I’m interested to learn how big the pumpkin pie will be?

  3. OMG! What makes a nation “legitimate”. Only the rule of force. The rule of law? That’s great; Buyt only if you possess the force to enforce the rule of law. What supersedes the rule of law is the “rule” that all living things,even humans, ought to be good to each other. Ought to treat each other as they would wish to be treated. What is “legitimate” is that all living things, even humans, have the right to exist and those same humans have the responsibility to respect the right of other living things to also exist. While two people can not occupy the same space at the same time, two people can share that space and they ought to. Love is the answer (apologies to John).

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