Twice in recent weeks, we have slammed foodie David Lebovitz for passing along Israeli propaganda as straight reporting about food. (Here and here.) Others have evidently gone after Lebovitz at his own site, and stung by the criticisms, Lebovitz has responded in an earnest postscript to his latest post from Israel. Myself, I am gratified by the tone of the postscript, by the fact that Lebovitz is opening this subject up, and by his determination to learn about his own “direct Arabic descent,” too. His claim that food isn’t political seems to me is a lot of happy horsemanure. His last post ended with the disclaimer that he is being sponsored by a pro-Israel organization:
Note: I’m a guest on a trip with Vibe Israel, a non-profit organization dedicated to introducing Israeli culture and cuisine to others. This meal was part of that visit. more questionable.
His new post does not deal with this sponsorship. And as for the food part, it is all about hummus and repeatedly describes Israeli techniques. Not a word about Palestine or Palestinians.
But here is Lebovitz’s postscript:
A Note About Posts from Israel:
A number of people have commented about my visit to Israel, in a previous post and elsewhere. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to visit and I was happy to be invited to deeply explore the cuisine by meeting local chefs, chocolatiers, and growers. I don’t have any particular agenda when I travel except to eat the food, and meet the people who make it. (And usually an exit row aisle seat, if I can snag one.) Other countries that I’ve traveled to and done the same thing include Australia, Tunisia, Portugal, Ireland, France, the United States, Switzerland, Sharjah, and Mexico, all countries that have governments and/or beliefs that I don’t necessarily ascribe to. (And believe me, there are a number of things I’d like to change in more than one of those places.)
The situation in the Middle East is challenging and one that’s not going to be resolved on a food blog. And most likely not by someone who bakes cookies for a living. Many people have strong opinions on the political situation in the Middle East and as someone of direct Arabic descent, I am doing my best to learn about, and to respect, all the people who make up this interesting part of the world.
My intention of going to Israel was to meet the people who live there, who represent a wide swath of cultures and encompass a variety of political, religious, and social beliefs. I came mostly, however, to learn about the cuisine, which is as diverse as the culture.
I certainly couldn’t go everywhere, and do and eat everything that I wanted to do in one week, and I’m hoping to go back one day and not just hit the places I missed, but to stay in touch with the generous and wonderful people who I met. And I also have on agenda plans to visit other countries in the region in the future, as time permits.
If you wish to comment on various dishes, ingredients, cultural and geographic variations, and methods that are used in other countries, and so forth, all of those are welcome here. (Read my comment policy for further information.) Certain dishes go by certain names in various countries, so please respect others in whatever part of the world you wish to discuss.
But it’s not appropriate to make certain assumptions about why I took this trip, or about the people who live in Israel who I met, or about the neighboring countries that are based on conjecture. I do ask that people refrain from leaving comments of that nature and respect not only me, but the various people that visit the site. I travel to other countries for the food, and to meet local cooks and bakers, and am happy to share those stories, places, recipes, and people here. And sharing them is the intention of this blog. -David