A “taste of the house” food festival to be held in Philadelphia June 20 initially included an Israeli food truck, but the invitation was withdrawn after Palestinian solidarity activists opposed its inclusion. A fury followed by defenders and pro-Israel organizers decided to cancel the event in its entirety.
Philadelphia’s “Taste of Home” food festival uninvited Mochava, an Israeli-owned food truck, and all manner of condemnations, doxes, harassment, death threats were leveled against festival organizers who dared to take a moral stand against cultural appropriation.
Word Moshava refers to the Jewish settlements in Palestine, representing the first wave of European colonizers who ultimately conquered Palestine through violent ethnic cleansing campaigns which continue to this day, with the latest expulsions taking place as written, in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, where the IDF is literally removing Palestinian residents from their homes where they have lived for generations, in order to replace them with Jewish settlers, a shocking number of whom are in fact American Jews.
Naming a food truck after a colonial tradition is appropriate given that its menu is predominantly made up of Arab dishes, appropriated by Israel in the same way that they have appropriated Palestinian land, home and heritage. There is nothing Israeli about shawarma, hummus, falafel or arayes, all of which predate the State of Israel by a few decades. The fact that Arab Jews brought Arab culinary traditions from their native Arab countries to Israel does not make these foods Israeli any more than pizza or tacos can become American cuisine no matter how much they are served and eaten here. .
As Israel demolishes Palestinian villages, razes old Palestinian cemeteries, and destroys non-Jewish Palestinian archeology to eliminate traces of indigenous Palestinian life, it is using cultural appropriation as another form of erasure. It is simply not acceptable for the Israelis to claim the legacy of the indigenous Palestinians at the same time as they try to displace and expel them. But this is especially glaring when you consider all the ways in which Israel militarized food against the Palestinians. Here are some examples :
- Israel has implemented a policy of counting the calories allowed in Gaza in order to severely limit the nutritional intake of Palestinians, designed “Put the Palestinians on a diet, but not starve them”.
- In addition to outright seizing Palestinian farms, Israel has systematically bulldozed farmland, especially in Gaza, in addition aerial spraying of crop-destroying herbicides which render large tracts of arable land useless and toxic.
- Since Israel conquered the rest of Palestine in 1967, it has uprooted over a million olive trees, with terrible nutritional, ecological and economic consequences for the Palestinians. This is coupled with systematic paramilitary settlers burning olive groves and Palestinian fruit trees, especially during the harvest season.
- Israel diverts water from Palestinian villages to illegal Israeli settlements, denies Palestinians access to their own water, and generally uses a myriad of protocols that effectively steal Palestinian water, creating an apartheid reality where Palestinians live parched lives, while Israeli settlers in the same area enjoy unlimited water, with green lawns and swimming pools.
- Israel applies laws that ban traditional picking of herbs in indigenous Palestinian foods
Finally, it should be noted that the owner of the food truck Mochava served in the same Israeli military who has been engaged in the ethnic cleansing and continued oppression of Palestinians, who has been called apartheid system by major Israeli and international human rights organizations.
We applaud the organizers for overturning this blatant attempt at Palestinian erasure, cultural appropriation and food washing of apartheid. They have no reason to apologize.
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