Friday, May 13, 2005
The Jewish longing for hummus is like the desire to create the Israeli sabra, says the Haifa-based writer and filmmaker Ala Halihal, who made a short film about the travels of an Israeli family in Arab villages in search of authentic hummus (which is finally served - glatt kosher - out of a container). "Israeli society is patronizing toward the Muslims and its goal is to appropriate hummus for Israeliness, even as it ignores its cultural roots, and also it tries constantly to adapt it to the Jewish palate. When an Israeli who belongs to the hummus cult - and usually feels repulsed by Arab communities - goes to look for that food in a Galilee village or in the Old City of Acre, he sees the immediate contact with the food as a symbol of authenticity and exoticism, which to me is bizarre. He views Ahmed, who serves him the hummus, as his good buddy, but is not really interested in what he thinks, how many children he has, what kind of music he likes or which films he sees. The only thing that interests the Israeli diner is the shout announcing that the hummus is ready."
Hummus, Halihal adds, creates an equation of false coexistence here, for which the Arabs, too, are partly to blame. The Jews looks for authenticity and the Arab exploits this well. The result is that everyone exists in a kind of gigantic Disneyland in which everyone knows his role.
Halihal remembers that during the demonstrations of October 2000, a demonstration was held at the entrance to Wadi Nisnas, the Arab section of Haifa. Ten Arab criminals then showed up and started to hit him and other demonstrators, because there were grocery stores and hummus places there and they didn't want their business to be hurt. "This hummus is killing us in every sense," Halihal sums up. "I call for a hummus revolt. It could be the biggest revolt ever here. Finally everyone will really eat shit, and that is what will give the push for true peace and coexistence."