2008-10-08 05:55:28 UTC
Lebanon in 'Hummus' War with Israel
The latest conflict simmering between Lebanon and Israel is all about
food: Lebanese businessmen accusing Israel of stealing traditional
Middle Eastern dishes like hummus.
Fadi Abboud, president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association,
said Tuesday his group plans to sue Israel to stop it from marketing
hummus and other regional dishes as Israeli.
"It is not enough they (Israelis) are stealing our land. They are also
stealing our civilization and our cuisine," said Abboud.
He said his group also seeks to claim the eggplant spread baba
ghannouj and tabbouleh, a salad made of chopped parsley and tomatoes,
as Lebanon's own.
Hummus — made from mashed chickpeas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon
juice and salt— has been eaten in the Middle East for centuries. Its
exact origin is unknown, though it's generally seen as an Arab dish.
But it is also immensely popular in Israel — served in everyday meals
and at many restaurants — and its popularity is growing around the
While Abboud cites a history of complaints by Lebanese businessmen
about Israel exporting and marketing Lebanese dishes as Israeli, it's
not clear where the Lebanese might file suit since the two countries
are officially at war.
Abboud compares his suit to the one over feta cheese in which a
European Union court ruled in 2002 the cheese must be made with Greek
sheep and goats milk to bear the name feta. That ruling is only valid
for products sold in the EU.
Abboud acknowledged an uphill battle, particularly over hummus — which
Palestinians also claim as their own.
"Hummus might be debatable, in any case we will be happy if the
Palestinians win... But nobody can even discuss whether tabbouleh or
baba ghannouj are Lebanese," Abboud added. "We don't have to win. The
important thing is to try."(AP) (AP photo shows a Lebanese chef
preparing a dish of hummus at his restaurant in Beirut)