George S. Hishmeh in a special to explains that the life of Falafel in the Arab world goes much further than the existence of the state of Israel of approximately 60 years.
He writes: “I am quite familiar with this problem since many Arab Americans have been aware of this undeclared war at many unsuspecting restaurants specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, or coverage in the media. My first confrontation with this issue came in 1969 when the late Leah Rabin, wife of the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was then his country’s ambassador in Washington, discussed in a New York Times interview Israeli cuisine, and praised labneh (strained yogurt) as healthful food.”
He then cites Joan Nathan, author of The Foods of Israel, whose writings and recipes appear on MyJewishLearning.com, as saying that falafel is “the ultimate Israeli food”.
On the other hand Hishmeh reports that Daniel Rogov, the restaurant and wine critics of Haaretz, the leading Israeli newspaper, acknowledges that “despite these longstanding myths, there is nothing Israeli about falafel, shawarma, borekas or hummus ….” and added that “in order to set the culinary record straight, let it be known that falafel …. outdates the existence of the State of Israel by several thousand years, archeologists having discovered the remains of ground chickpeas in the tombs of several of the Pharaohs. Shawarma … (is) Turkish in origin, as are borekas … As for hummus, most food historians agree the dish originated some 4,000 years ago, probably in North Africa.”
This discussion reminds me of few other unresolved disputes that we have carried for a long time now in the Middle East. These are beginning and ending of Ramadan and the ownership of Rumi, who Afghans claim for his birth place, and Turks for his buried site, and we Eyeranians claim for his language and few years he lived in Iran. 800 year’s anniversary of the grand poet this month makes it very timely that we set the record right once and for all.
Since we are the winner of the Iraq war to the left and Afghan war to the right of our country, it seems the time is ripe for us to get it over and attack Turkey and move the Rumi’s buried remains to Qom and finish the job. Meanwhile Lebanese Hezb Allah with helps from other regional allies can take care of the Falafel problem so that we can all live happily ever after, eat Falafel, read Rumi and strive.
Having said that, however, I suggest that we leave the war over the beginning and ending of the month of Ramadan to another time, because that really requires a whole ethnosectarian competition for power and other resources (a.k.a civil war) by itself.