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Celebrity foodie Anthony Bourdain’s trip to Palestine highlights Gaza blockade, racist settlers

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Anthony Bourdain with a group of local kids in Gaza. (Screenshot via @HelenCho)

Anthony Bourdain with a group of local kids in Gaza. (Screenshot via @HelenCho)

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain finally made it to Israel/Palestine.

After years of traveling around the world to showcase foreign cuisines to American audiences, Bourdain at last took his camera crew to a place where food is intensely political.

The result was encouraging: a humanized portrait of both Palestinians and Israelis; a trip to Gaza where he witnesses the impact of the siege on fishermen there; and an ugly look at racist settlers intent on driving Palestinians out. There were imperfect moments, to be sure. But Bourdain’s episode was noteworthy for the ways it portrayed Palestinians, providing Americans a window into how ordinary Palestinians live–and eat. Food was as a highly visible backdrop to the episode, but the show kept circling back to the politics of the Holy Land.

The episode of Bourdain’s CNN show, “Parts Unknown,” begins with a jaunt to Jerusalem. Chef and author Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli, is his guide. They tiptoe around that age-old question of who invented falafel. “Is there a historically provable answer to who invented it?” asks Bourdain. The answer from Ottolenghi does not address head on the appropriation of falafel, nor the complexity of how it became a popular dish in Israel.

“The one thing that’s very clear that — in this part of the world, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, it’s been cooked for many, many, many generations,” he says, though he later adds that “there is actually no answer to it.”

The missteps are easy to point out. Bourdain tells viewers that “Israel began construction on a wall along the Green Line representing the Israeli-Palestinian border.” While he accurately adds that “Eighty-five percent of it [is] in Palestinian territory,” those two statements can’t jive with each other, and the first is dead-wrong. Even a cursory look at a map of the wall shows that is snakes deep into the West Bank, meaning that the separation barrier is nowhere close to being built “along the green line.” Ottolenghi tells the chef that the problem with Israelis living is the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem is that it “breaks the separation that people would normally expect in this city.” That may be true, but the core problem of Israeli settlers living in the middle of occupied Jerusalem is that it’s illegal, and that it’s a step towards pushing Palestinians out–not that it takes a bite out of segregated spaces.

There’s no mention of the Nakba, though there is talk of “return.” And Bourdain also gives voice to Israeli suffering from rockets fired from Gaza, while omitting any mention of the massive Israeli violence inflicted on the people of Gaza in 2008-09 and 2012.

But those missteps are overshadowed by other revealing moments of the episode. Bourdain was disturbed at witnessing the aftermath of a “price-tag” attack in a village near an Israeli settlement. Graffiti painted on what is apparently a Palestinian home–it’s not so clear–reads, “Against Arabs, the state of Israel is alive, and death to the Arabs.”

Later on, while Bourdain sits down for dinner with an American-born Israeli settler in Ma’ale Levona, he asks the executive of Eli settlement, Amiad Cohen, why the graffiti remains up. The dialogue that ensues is the most awkward exchange of the episode (transcript taken from Lexis Nexis, and the unidentified male is Cohen):

BOURDAIN: So I’ve got to ask you about something that troubled me. Coming up, the first house before you come up the drive to this village, the graffiti on the front —


BOURDAIN: The targets spray painted on.


BOURDAIN: Whodunit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Villains. Bad people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t know. Apparently kids. When we educate kids, kids are not able to understand complicated things. They see the world in black and white. When you get older, you’re able to see the gray. And when someone hits you —

BOURDAIN: I understand why kids would do it. Given what you told me earlier, identifying the perpetrators within the realm of possibility?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They’re young people.

BOURDAIN: Why not paint it over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good question. I don’t know. Maybe we should. You’re right.

Then there’s his trip to Gaza. Bourdain’s guide is Laila El-Haddad, the Palestinian proprietor of the blog Gaza Mom and co-author of the book The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey. Haddad explains how there are three culinary traditions in Gaza: food from villages depopulated by Israel; food from Gaza City; and food from Gaza’s coast, which is dominated by seafood. What’s significant is that Haddad is allowed to speak for herself, providing a perspective not often seen on American TV.

“The catches are not as big as they used to be, and that’s primarily because the fishermen can’t go beyond three to six nautical miles,” says Haddad, explaining the Israeli Navy’s enforcement of the blockade. “They’ll shoot at the fishermen, they’ll spray cold water at them, they’ll destroy their boats, they’ll cut their fishing nets, they’ll detain them. So it’s obviously really risky business. Nine nautical miles, that’s where that deep sea channel is where you’re going to get the really good catches.”

You can hardly call an hour episode sprinting from Jerusalem to settlements to Ramallah to Gaza a deep dive into the food and politics of Israel/Palestine. But for a novice, Bourdain provides an interesting and human look at the reality in the region. It’s not perfect, but for CNN, it’s close enough.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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73 Responses

  1. Cliff on September 16, 2013, 4:13 pm

    It was a good episode all things considered.

    I think Bourdain isn’t some ignorant Zionist. His sensibilities are American – not Christian evangelical, bought-and-paid-for politician, Islamophobic, or Israel Firster – it’s idealistically ‘American’ (believing we are a force for good and helping the oppressed).

    Not saying it’s ‘true’ but it’s a feeling I have and the best way I can think about my country even if it’s a constant contradiction.

    • tokyobk on September 16, 2013, 11:52 pm

      The result is tremendously powerful I believe, more so than any polemic. Humans related to and depicted as humans in a specific American language as you point out.

  2. annie on September 16, 2013, 4:51 pm

    there are a number of video clips available at the link. i recommend. does anyone know if the whole episode is available online?

    thanks alex!

  3. radii on September 16, 2013, 6:17 pm

    Bourdain did exactly as I’d hoped and called it like he saw it and asked some probing questions … his show is ostensibly about food, culture and travel after all … I knew he’d pull no punches and get played by no one … that one question really set the piece apart from other coverage Why not paint it over?

  4. James Canning on September 16, 2013, 6:25 pm

    Welcome exposure of Palestinians in Gaza, to the American public.

    Great piece.

  5. Pamela Olson on September 16, 2013, 7:12 pm

    Strangely, the entire episode seems to be available on Youtube:

    I watched it there. I’d hurry before it’s taken down…

    Yeah, it was quite a disorienting hour of American TV…

    Wait, what? Palestinians are talking? Without anyone “interpreting” what they are saying? A map of the Wall with accurate stats about it? Someone mentioning Price Tag operations (even if not explaining them very well)? Talking about the Israeli army shooting fishermen and destroying their boats? Showing cute Palestinian kids… in primetime? Without a single armed masked man or wailing woman? Just nice people making food and chatting and doing things for fun?


    • just on September 16, 2013, 9:51 pm

      Thanks for the link, Pamela. It was surreal.

      What kept welling up was the obvious love and tenderness of the Palestinian families taking care to feed and hold their children– totally uninterested in the cameras. It was REAL. It puts Golda Meir’s hateful comment right in the hell that she helped to create with her evil proclamation: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” I keep reading that on many sites — written by Zionists and hasbarists. All I saw were families, children and all of the Palestinians that participated– proud, brave, smiling, playing, cooking and eating — always steadfast. I saw a lot on “both sides”. It was a good program and hopefully the start of many more reality shows about and of Palestine, and kudos to Bourdain and CNN for bringing it to us all. Less stereotyping would be so very welcome, and one giant leap forward.

      • ritzl on September 16, 2013, 9:57 pm

        Yep. Hopefully the first of many to come. I do wonder how long this has been “in the can” so to speak. Timing?

        A sign of change or the instigator of change? Given MSM cautiousness, my guess is the former.

      • Citizen on September 17, 2013, 4:16 am

        @ just
        I just saw the show on YouTube. I agree with your assessment. The food looked delicious, the private Palestinian family life, heart-warming. The wall, cold, massive, unforgiving. The Palestinian speed sister was shot in the back by an IDF canister, she tells Bourdain.

    • annie on September 17, 2013, 12:30 am

      thanks pamela!

      wow, that was amazing. and they showed them making the barbequed watermelon dish in gaza w/laila i read about. incredible.

      the restaurant 20minutes south of ramallah …i wonder if that is the famous one they just shut down. or put up roadblocks or something.

      it was a fabulous show. fabulous.

  6. RoHa on September 16, 2013, 9:30 pm

    So CNN is going to drop Bourdain, then.

  7. kalithea on September 16, 2013, 9:39 pm

    I hope when Americans watched this they tried to imagine what it would be like if they craved a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and had to risk walking through a tunnel that looks like a mine shaft to get their fried chicken to and fro. Let’s just say that aside from the inhumanity of the blockade — it’s as surreal as the cattle cages Palestinians wait in to get through checkpoints. I actually would have liked to see Bourdain experience the tunnels since they’re an indispensible part of Gaza’s survival.

    Meanwhile Israelis have abundance under the sun. There will be justice…

  8. gamal on September 16, 2013, 10:20 pm

    “old question of who invented falafel” it is called Tamiya, Foul and Tamiya, food of the Pharaohs, conclusively a superior and Egyptian invention, proved by assertion, there could be evidence but I wouldn’t demean myself by looking for it. Molokhiya too, but no one fights about who invented that as few foreigners can tolerate its spectacular snail trail slimyness, i would kill for cold bucket of it right now.

    • Taxi on September 17, 2013, 5:45 am

      Mmmmmm Mloukhiyeh!

      I planted some in my veggie garden in south Lebanon and have been eating it regularly for about 9 months. Soon as I harvest one batch, drying half of it for use later, another batch grows in its place pronto! Keeps on giving and giving and giving! My Lebanese village cook makes it Egyptian style (soupy minced leaf) as well as her own style too, which is cooked as whole leaf stew with both chicken and lamb, basmati rice served on the side. The minced onion in vinegar and toasted pita bread as topping is an absolute must if one wants to enter the lofty Mloukhiyeh heaven! Yum yum yum oooaaaaarhhh yowzy yumz!

      Definitely NOT ashkanazim food, and humus and falafel most definitely NOT ashkanazim food either.

      • Obsidian on September 17, 2013, 10:04 am


        “It’s not ‘my’ Lebanon, mister Obsidian”

        Sure sounds like it to me.

      • Taxi on September 17, 2013, 10:56 am

        That’s nice of you Obsidian, I’ve passed the Lebanon test in your ashkanazim eyes. But I’m waiting for Walid to confirm my cultural Lebanonization. That would make me happy.

        And you obsidian and other ashkanazim can eat all the humus you want, but that does not make humus an ‘ashkanazim cuisine’ in the slightest. Why that would be like me saying sushi is now American just because I ate a lot of it back in California.

      • bintbiba on September 17, 2013, 11:12 am

        Taxi you pass all tests on all counts, as far as I’m concerned.
        Sorry for badly expressing my thought.

      • Taxi on September 17, 2013, 11:47 am

        I never had prouder moments than when a zionist hissed and called me a “Palestinian”, and a Palestinian in a refugee camp looked deeply into my eyes and called me an “Amercanieh hanooneh” (American empathetic) – a phrase I’ve used on myself ever since.

      • tokyobk on September 17, 2013, 5:22 pm

        Actually, Taxi, you could not be more wrong about how culture and history works. Of course a people eating something for a time makes it theirs. Why that’s like suggesting noodles are not Italian — except by your fascist standards they are still Chinese.

        Sushi, which is actually originated from the Mekong Delta — is — American, just like Pizza and Hot Dogs which originated in Germany and Italy — except tomatoes are South American). California Rolls are not on the menu of any sushi restaurant in Japan that is not catering to tourists. (Tempura by the way is Portuguese, probably West African before that and Yakiniku is a Korean dish brought back during the colonization of Korea.

        Food transfer is wonderful thing, and the Jews of Israel are mixed between Ashkenazi (you should learn how to use the singular and plural btw) and Arab Jews who were eating roughly the same cuisine as their Muslim and Christian counterparts.

        The issue is oppression, colonialism, choking the remnants of what might have been a Palestinian State while stifling an egalitarian democracy to develop.

        Ashkenazim eating hummus and incorporating it into their pan-Jewish diet in a free and equal Israel/Palestine would be a wonderful human thing.

        Food transfer is as beautiful as colonialism and oppression (and cultural fascism) are ugly.

      • libra on September 17, 2013, 5:29 pm

        tokyobk: Ashkenazim eating hummus and incorporating it into their pan-Jewish diet in a free and equal Israel/Palestine would be a wonderful human thing.

        Is this a cunning plan to eat our way to a single state? I like the sound of it.

      • Taxi on September 17, 2013, 6:26 pm

        Actually, Italians have pasta which is derivative of the Chinese noodle and not a FULL-ON STOLEN RECIPE, STOLEN NAME AND HISTORY – NOT the exact same method of manufacture – NOT the same taste etc neither. Have you ever honestly gone to an Italian restaurant and asked for crispy fried noodles with marinara sauce? Or even gone to a Chinese restaurant and ordered duck lasagna with oyster sauce? (mmmm that sounds quite delish actually heh heh). But seriously, only a lazy, unimaginative, brainwashed and dangy-tongued colonialist would confuse derivation with bold-faced plagiarism.

        Again, a hot dog is a derivative of the european sausage…. And so on and so forth with the rest of your dodgy examples: the key repeated word here being ‘derivative’. Capish? (Somehow I think not).

        Cultural and culinary thievery is part and parcel of colonial zionism. Do I need to use the phrase “cultural fascism” here?

        Cuz they’re such grim mideast fakesters: zionists think that after colonizing the place for 60 years, they’re now the owners of everything there, that they’ve successfully integrated into the environment, when in fact they’ve violently forced themselves upon the environment and stolen everything – and I mean EVERYTHING! They own NOTHING, it’s all stolen loot. and it’s just so pathetic how Zionists are so frigging deluded by now, they actually believe israelis invented falafel and humus. “A land without people for a people without a land”, is really singed and branded on your brain, tokyopk, isn’t it?

        No you will not whistle past your cultural occupation of Palestine and call any resistance to this cultural occupation “cultural fascism”. So like ST*U you passive-aggressive menu-less hasbara merchant!

      • gamal on September 17, 2013, 10:28 pm

        lots of evidence suggests that noodles originated in the middle east, where there are very many dishes from iranian soups to rishta, and where wheat was first cultivated.

        here in Ja people with Chinese features and dark skin are known as ‘spoiled Chini’, not like the Chin clan who are very big in reggae and music production, but noodles like Jerusalem are ours.

      • Obsidian on September 18, 2013, 1:49 am

        Fish n’ chips is Jewish.
        Jews expelled from Spain brought it to the Netherlands before it made it’s way to England.

      • Walid on September 18, 2013, 4:57 am

        As to the eastern Med (Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon Syria, Greece, ex-Yugoslavia, Albania etc.) they have very few dishes that they can claim as being authentically theirs. Most of their dishes are from the Ottomans that ruled these countries for 400 years. In Lebanon, the only truly authentic dishes are tabouleh and kibbeh; mostly everything else is Turkish.

        Taxi, you’re just as Lebanese as the best of them. Is your cook Christian?

      • Taxi on September 18, 2013, 6:40 am

        “Fish n’ chips is Jewish.”

        No it ain’t. But you would say that wouldn’t you? It’s Sparnish/Portuguese, brought over to England by a jewish immigrant:

        Next you’ll be telling us that igloos are jewish.

      • Taxi on September 18, 2013, 7:45 am

        Thanks, Walid. for your vote of confidence. You’re saying this because you haven’t heard my Fos-ha Arabic (classical Arabic): I’m really very bad at it. I find it such a struggle that I’ve more or less given up on it. I watched Al Mayadeen TV for a whole month every day and for hours, thinking this would help me improve my Fos-ha, but no such luck. I still need my neighbor, who speaks a bit of English, to help translate some words when I watch the Mayadeen news. I’ve picked up the southern vernacular pretty well (hahaha), but good grief: Fos-ha is soooooo mind-boggligly hard – I just can’t do it.

        My village cook is a secular shia moslem, widowed with three teens – her husband was a half maronite christian and half shia, died in the 2006 war against israel while driving his mother to a Saidon hospital to get her dialysis treatment – a missile was dropped on his car killing him and his mother (R.I.P). He’s an only child and from the village where I’m staying, but my cook is from another village near the foothills of the Chouf Mountains – she still lives here in the south because her husband left her an old two-room house and she’s got nowhere else to go. When I first arrived to the village, I asked the grocer who the poorest woman in the village was and whether she could cook good – he put me in touch with her and she’s actually a really fantastic cook and baker – her life and her children’s lives are now transformed cuz she’s earning and can take care of her family independently, without handouts from grumpy villagers. I’m going to help her set up a small bakery in the village before I leave so she can have a long-term career.

        Funny though, Walid, a lot of Lebanese ask what religion is so-and-so and you just did it too :-)
        On this point, I don’t think I would ever pass the Lebanese test as I sincerely have no interest in people’s religion :-)

      • bintbiba on September 18, 2013, 1:14 pm

        Taxi, I love you…. When people ask me (as is SO usual) what is my religion.,I say ‘None whatsoever! But I still try to be a decent human being’. Very annoying that in the US when asked where did I come from, I’d say ‘the Middle East’, first the’d say “You speak funny!” then Oh you’re from Israel
        (I don’t look very Arab) I’d say no (Palestine and Lebanon)…. That got silence and a confused look.

      • Taxi on September 18, 2013, 2:20 pm

        LOL bintbiba, me lovzyaback too! Really, I do – always such a kind and sweet lady you are.

        Needless to say, hanging out in south Lebanon, I stick out like a sore thumb, especially that I never go anywhere without my dog and people around here tend to be cynophobic. Soon as people find out that I’m American, they bold-faced ask me if I’m CIA and I always bold-faced say YES hahahaha – this unexpected response seems to disarm them and they laugh with me and invite me to their houses! Crazy people!

      • bintbiba on September 18, 2013, 4:12 pm

        Taxi, It’s your wacky humour plus the boldness in your writing that is so endearing.

      • Walid on September 18, 2013, 5:04 pm

        Taxi, I asked because of the onions-in-vinegar on the Mouloukhieh that sits on a bed of basmati rice. That’s how Christians in general serve it. She must have picked it up from her husband. Lebanese Muslims in general eat it in its shredded-leaf form with a half-lemon squeezed on it served with rice on the side. People ask you about your religion to get a better perspective of how you may react or to what they say, like some kind of profiling I guess.

      • Ellen on September 19, 2013, 12:10 am

        Actually, the Jews of Spain asked to leave (Arbanel– who was Jewish — , of Liz’s and Ferdinand’s court asked for and got a Papal bull to arrange the expulsion. They left under protection of the Spanish crown, unlike the Muslims and others of Spain who succumbed to the excesses and ravages of the Inquisition. The Muslim population of Spain did not have the advantage of expulsion, but were instead decimated.

        Don’t know about fish and chips, but the dispersion of Sephardic Jews did spread around lots of good food and ideas. Maybe even barbeque into the Caribbean

      • Taxi on September 19, 2013, 1:09 am

        I kinda knew why you were asking for my cook’s religion, but I was messin’ widya – hope I’m forgiven my dry-handed blahs. But really, religious profiling seems to be the norm in the mideast, and it’s about the only thing I’ve found very difficult to get with.

      • miriam6 on September 19, 2013, 1:18 am

        [email protected];

        Actually, the Jews of Spain asked to leave

        What rubbish.

        How utterly ignorant you are.

        The Jews of Spain were EXPELLED from Spain

        To use modern parlance it was ethnic cleansing.

        The Turks welcomed many of the Jews expelled and gained from the Spanish Jewish presence in their country.

        The most fortunate of the expelled Jews succeeded in escaping to Turkey.
        Sultan Bajazet welcomed them warmly. “How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king,” he was fond of asking, “the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?”
        Among the most unfortunate refugees were those who fled to neighboring Portugal. In 1496, King Manuel of Portugal concluded an agreement to marry Isabella, the daughter of Spain’s monarchs. As a condition of the marriage, the Spanish royal family insisted that Portugal expel her Jews. King Manuel agreed, although he was reluctant to lose his affluent and accomplished Jewish community.

      • jon s on September 19, 2013, 1:57 am

        So now we have “Expulsion Denial” ?
        The Jews asked to leave Spain? Pure nonsense. Also, Ellen, at least try to get the names right . (“Arbanel”? You must mean Don Yitzhak Abarbanel).
        See here:
        and here:

      • seafoid on September 19, 2013, 4:31 am

        Here’s a great arabic snippet, very much off topic.

        Egyptian football commentator is yapping on in formal arabic about something unrelated to the match he’s covering , he misses all the build up and suddenly the Egyptian player scores. And he goes nuts . Ya walad !

        Dontcha just love the masris.

        Starts at 1.06

      • Walid on September 19, 2013, 6:03 am

        Taxi, the religious questioning is never direct. They begin by asking your name and surname and if they’re both neutral, like mine, it wouldn’t tell them but it doesn’t stop them. They then ask you from what city you’re from and that should give them a good indication, but if you’re from a cosmo city, like I am, they’ll follow up with another question to know from what part of the city but if you’re from a mixed neighbourhood like I was, this will really frustrate them and they’ll end up ask you directly about your religion. Now when someone asks me where I’m from, I’ll answer them either by asking if it matters or if I’m in a nasty mood I’ll tell me what’s my religion to watch their jaws drop in embarrassment.

      • Taxi on September 19, 2013, 6:22 am

        “if I’m in a nasty mood ”

        Hard to imagine ;-)

      • Citizen on September 19, 2013, 7:09 am

        @ binthbiba
        Things are changing towards a bit more awareness in America–on Conan O’Brien’s show last night, they had a young Palestinian-Lebonese American stand-up comedian on; most of his jokes were about middle eastern types and culture clashes, and Americans’ ignorance and misperceptions of it all. He was pretty witty in his jokes and satire.

      • Ellen on September 19, 2013, 9:20 am

        Taxi, No, I do not mean the Rabbi Do Yitzhak. I mean the right hand Administrative lead council to the court. Remember, Jews of Spain held high positions in the Spanish Court, Law, Universities and Commerce.

        Yet I do not have the name right. (Am travelling and cannot reference the book out of Priceton Press, cited above……apologies.)

        Expulsion is a correct description. It, like all events resulting from the Inqusition, was terrible and tragic. Yet it was under protection of the Crown. Other groups did not have the connections, resources and influence to initiate and organize an Expulsion. (Think of the logistics and costs.) They had to stay and await their fate. What do you think happened to the Muslims of Spain then?

      • Ellen on September 19, 2013, 10:00 am

        miriam, the history of the Inquisition is complex…and of course tragic. Liz and Ferdi were paranoid rulers in a threatened empire. They used religion to secure and enforce their power — to force a single religion onto a population for ideas of peace and control.

        Nothing oficially happened without a so-called Papal bull. The court secured one to have Jews that did not want to covert to leave. All considered, that was probably the more prident route for the Jewish population as becoming a Conversio was not that secure.

        Not all Jews left. Those that chose to remain went under forced conversion just as others.

        And Spain went into a spiral of decay. So goes it with the mix of religious nazionalism.

      • Taxi on September 19, 2013, 10:00 am

        Hi Ellen,
        It’s the ziobugs who’re buzzing about your comment, not me. All I said was that fish and chips is not jewish, but that it apparently came to England through a jewish migrant from Spain/Portugal.

      • Ellen on September 19, 2013, 10:31 am

        Hi Taxi…and potatoes came from South America. But gosh….do you think that without Jewish cultural influences, goys never would have figured out how to fry a spud?

        Funny how the Ziobots resort to name calling, projection of things never stated and only the Jewish virtual library and Wikepedia to try and make a point.

      • Woody Tanaka on September 19, 2013, 10:38 am

        “It’s Sparnish/Portuguese, brought over to England by a jewish immigrant:”

        Not only that, but this Spanish dish was merely fried fish. Fish and Chips isn’t just fried fish. The chips are essential (even though they are actually fries, not chips. Silly Brits and their funny names for fried potatoes… )

      • miriam6 on September 19, 2013, 1:16 pm

        [email protected];

        Hi Taxi…and potatoes came from South America. But gosh….do you think that without Jewish cultural influences, goys never would have figured out how to fry a spud?

        Ellen it is only a question of reflecting a more general discussion about differing cultural influences on the sort of food we all eat theses days.

        Except when mention of a possible Jewish influence on those foods and their origins are mentioned you suddenly become hostile.

        Why the hostility ? Why use the slur word GOY?

        Did I or Obsidian or Jon S call you a goy ?


      • miriam6 on September 19, 2013, 1:19 pm

        [email protected];

        The Muslims returned to their original homelands Ellen

        Where they subjected Jews and Christians to living under the status of Dhimmitude , that is protected by the Muslims but still considered as inferior to those of Muslim faith.

      • annie on September 19, 2013, 1:34 pm

        here he is citizen, sammy obeid, lebanese/palestinian american

      • Ellen on September 19, 2013, 2:35 pm

        Taxi, apologies, I meant to address the above posts to jon and miriam. Late, working on a pad, typos, etc. ……But funny still how miriam goes to name calling and jon projects stuff never stated or indicated.

        Is that what they teach in Hasbara school? These are the best defenders of Zionism and revisionist Zionist history ?

      • Taxi on September 19, 2013, 2:40 pm

        No worries, Ellen. Actually, I can’t think of a single instance where I’ve disagreed with your POV or deductions.

        Miriam and jon are boring. Ever met an exciting zionist?

      • miriam6 on September 19, 2013, 2:48 pm

        [email protected];

        The fact that Jews were expelled from Spain is NOT revisionist Zionist history nor is it hasbara.

        It is a matter of historical record.

        Also it is completely rich of you to accuse others of name-calling when you resort to throwing the word ‘goy’ around.

        You do so in order to imply that Jews or the specific commenters who corrected your outrageous suggestion that the Jews of Spain ‘ASKED’ to leave Spain , are prejudiced against non-Jews.

        I, nor others have called you or any other non Jewish commenter a ‘goy’

        You ought to refrain from the use of the unpleasant word goy.

      • jon s on September 19, 2013, 3:59 pm

        “jon projects stuff never stated or indicated.”
        This is what you wrote, and I responded to:

        “the Jews of Spain asked to leave (Arbanel– who was Jewish — , of Liz’s and Ferdinand’s court asked for and got a Papal bull to arrange the expulsion. ”

        It certainly reads like you were denying that an expulsion occured. Even your later comment reads like the Jews were initiating and organizing their own expulsion.
        At the time of the expulsion, the “Golden Age ” of Jewish Spain, when they held high positions, etc., was a thing of the past. The Jews were a persecuted community.
        What does my comment, disputing the accuracy of your version of 15th century history, have to do with Zionism?

      • Woody Tanaka on September 19, 2013, 5:51 pm

        “Where they subjected Jews and Christians to living under the status of Dhimmitude , that is protected by the Muslims but still considered as inferior to those of Muslim faith.”

        And so much less oppressed than the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been for the last 40 years. But spouting bigoted dog-whistles like “dhimmitude” is more exciting than facts like that…

      • Woody Tanaka on September 19, 2013, 5:58 pm

        Ellen it is only a question of reflecting a more general discussion about differing cultural influences on the sort of food we all eat theses days.

        Except when mention of a possible Jewish influence on those foods and their origins are mentioned you suddenly become hostile.

        No, miriam. Obsidian didn’t “mention a possible Jewish influence” on anything. He stated “Fish n’ chips is Jewish” which is utter nonsense and a disgusting attempt at cultural appropriation. If you don’t know why someone might display a bit of hostility in light of that, you need to reflect a bit more.

      • Obsidian on September 17, 2013, 10:06 am

        “..and humus and falafel most definitely NOT ashkanazim food either.”

        Urrrppp….it is now.

      • Woody Tanaka on September 17, 2013, 2:39 pm

        “..and humus and falafel most definitely NOT ashkanazim food either.”

        Urrrppp….it is now.

        Nope. Theft never passes good title.

      • seafoid on September 19, 2013, 4:32 am

        And Tikka masala is Polish, is it ?

    • bintbiba on September 17, 2013, 6:33 am

      Hi Gamal, Just a hint on how to avoid the “sliminess’ in the mouloukhiyya… As it cooks ,add the juice of a whole lemon and slowly the so called sliminess disappears…and you get gorgeous ,flowing ,yummy mouloukhiyya!! This my mother taught me.
      And ‘Sahtayn’ !
      To you too, Taxi !

      • gamal on September 17, 2013, 1:38 pm

        Thanks, everyone has culinary secrets, I will try it if I can find Molokhiya here, few Arabs here and the Syrians, like Seaga are as Jamaican as everyone else, everything is Jerk.

        I have to admit only ever having eaten it Egyptian style I kind of like the slime, but its the taste that torments, like hummus, they only have those costas tins of the stuff, which tastes like old tyres.

        No cardammon, Za’atar or Dukkha, no wild cucumber, or brine pickled turnip tourshi (?), no tahini so the Aubergines mock me.

      • bintbiba on September 17, 2013, 6:09 pm

        gamal, here in the UK we can only get frozen mouloukhiyya . In LA we used to find it in Armenian and/or Mediterranean stores. Good luck.

      • just on September 17, 2013, 8:37 pm

        You know what’s really curious?

        In Arabic, mouloukhiyya is spelled several ways. In “English” it’s Jew’s Mallow.

        Now– that is bizarro.

      • tree on September 18, 2013, 3:45 am

        Its also called Egyptian Spinach.

  9. eGuard on September 17, 2013, 4:27 am

    So Bourdain knows which names he will be called, but does not know that the wall is on occupied territory. He puts up with an ignorant and deceitful guide Ottolenghi. Doesn’t have a single second question for the settlers he ‘interviews’ about political topics.

    Sloppy preparation that cannot be called journalism or even interest. Let’s not call this program an improvement.

    • just on September 17, 2013, 7:46 am

      I disagree. Cohen was exposed. The look on his face and his faltering replies to Bourdain wrt to the price tag graffiti was so deceitful– he looked like a deer in the headlights…….”uh, uh- maybe you are right”. He was smooth talking when he spoke of all of the electronic widgets that his wittle settlement has to keep them safe, but was nailed when it came to identifying the perpetrators of the price tag attack– and he had already told Bourdain that they have had “successes” wrt identifying Palestinians moving about. His rapturous settler buddy from Pa. was smooth talking as well, up until Bourdain asked if he had ever shared a meal with a “Muslim” family — ‘uh, uh, I keep Kosher and they would not offer’ just made me lol with his fakery. I don’t know about you, but my experience with the indigenous folks of the ME and their descendants make it a requisite that a guest is treated with the utmost of respect and generosity. In stark contrast, see the discomfiture of the Palestinian family who want everyone to eat and partake………….and the way that the settlers portrayed themselves as the winners of the prize– alone, keeping to themselves and without any conscience.

      It was clear who the overlords and oppressors are……….I also appreciated Bourdain talking about the settlements that are in ‘contravention to International law, in contravention to Israeli law– but it doesn’t seem to matter………..’

      It was probably the most honest look inside that I have seen in a long time– perhaps since I was there.

      • Citizen on September 17, 2013, 10:43 am

        I tend to agree. The guy said, ‘uh, uh, I keep Kosher and they would not offer because they respect that.’ Keeping kosher is an effective way to avoid social contact with the goyim.

      • gamal on September 18, 2013, 2:08 am

        I have fed and watered the most strictly adherent Jews, its common sense, clear glass drinking vessels, nothing with even the minimal possibility of porousness, black tea or coffee, no meat, no milk, no fish, no animal derived products at all, nuts, honey, flour and olive oil based stuff, vegetables, from that many and varied feasts can be prepared that do not offend any dietary law.

        Personally i follow a far stricter regimen myself, when visiting others I gratefully consume whatever I am offered, never ask what it is, the first time i was given Tibetan tea in a Nepalese monastery I thought the young monks were teasing me, it was so salty and oily from rancid butter, that is how they like it, for the remainder of my stay I opted for coffee when I had the choice.

  10. dbroncos on September 17, 2013, 10:08 am


    I agree. Bourdain asks, “why don’t you paint over it?” It’s not a question but an accusation. The contempt on his face is obvious and it’s also obvious that the settlers aren’t accustomed to having the myths and fairy tales of their Zionist bubble challenged in such a direct and piercing way.

    • Pamela Olson on September 17, 2013, 12:33 pm

      “The contempt on his face is obvious and it’s also obvious that the settlers aren’t accustomed to having the myths and fairy tales of their Zionist bubble challenged in such a direct and piercing way.”

      Seriously! They looked so shocked and annoyed — like they desperately wished Anthony was a Palestinian so they could just beat him up and break his camera for daring to say such things. But they couldn’t, so they pouted and dissembled like cornered four-year-olds caught red-handed.

  11. seafoid on September 17, 2013, 12:40 pm

    I was looking at “Jerusalem” by Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (not the other way around) in my sister’s house and I liked the recipes but the blurb that went with them really got on my tits. Sami and Yotam got to know each other in London away from the madness. It couldn’t be a system run by Jews. No, it’s just incomprehensible, the Israeli Palestinian tragedy.

    It always has to be the Jewish Zionist who dominates the discussion anytime there’s a shared project. There was a piece on falafel. No question that it was a “Jewish dish” since there were Jews in Palestine. Everything Palestinian obviously derivative. Or Arab.

    It was the same when I met Halper in East Jerusalem. He is a very impressive person but it’s the same attitude. The Jews are more cultured, more clued in, lefty Jews are more sympa, better at explaining, whatever. And of course it goes without saying that it has to be in Hebrew. And you have to swallow whatever self justifying crap . And sympa Jews know what is best for the Palestinians.

    • tokyobk on September 17, 2013, 6:07 pm

      I have to say in spite of being terrible at measurement (Egypt 12,000 years old never even one civil war) and predictions (Mubarek will never be released from prison in a kajillion years -though I guess house arrest still counts?) your honesty about how much -Jews- bother you (whatever their politics or intentions) is refreshing.

  12. dbroncos on September 17, 2013, 9:03 pm

    Bourdain’s show is a brilliant piece of journalism. In the beginning of the show he sets himself up as a naive visitor without opinions or biases (“I never knew what to make of Israel”) A clever tactic. He understands that his role as a food tourist in a conflict zone is not to weigh in with opinions of his own about the politics of good guys and bad guys. Instead, he gets out of the way and with very few, though poignant, words of his own he allows his opinions to be expressed indirectly by the people he interviews. By the end of the show he’s made it clear who the oppressed people are and who are the oppressors. Even when he travels to southern Israel to get “the other side of the story”, he finds a restaurant owner whose daughter was killed by a Palestinian mortar, an Israeli Jew who sees the bigger tragedy behind the myopic nationalisms of I/P, and whose heartfelt interest in peace and reconciliation stands in stark contrast to the arrogance and bigotry of the price tag settlers. Well done Mr. Bourdain

    • RudyM on September 18, 2013, 2:33 am

      In the beginning of the show he sets himself up as a naive visitor without opinions or biases (“I never knew what to make of Israel”) A clever tactic. He understands that his role as a food tourist in a conflict zone is not to weigh in with opinions of his own about the politics of good guys and bad guys.

      I still think that some of the framing he provides doesn’t help clarify things, like saying whatever that throw away line is that he says about two people who would be happy to drive each other into the sea. Also, pointing out commonalities helps argue for the possibility that there could be real coexistence, true, but there is no symmetry in the conflict, and emphasizing “oh, if only the well meaning people on both sides could sit down and talk it over” tends to sweep those assymetries under the rug. I think it’s important not to get stuck in that sort of language.

      I do agree that overall it’s an unusual segment for mainstream media.

      Incidentally, I had been wondering if Mohammed Assaf would be mentioned, not long before he was.

  13. dbroncos on September 17, 2013, 9:56 pm

    The rich, Palestinian princess “race car driver”, racing around town in the car that daddy bought her, is a thoroughly weird, unexpected and delightful piece of entertainment. Her relevance to the show’s regional politics theme is brought home with her story about being shot in the back with a tear gas cannister. Bourdain seems to be asking, “What on earth could this ‘girls just wanna have fun’ chick have done to provoke that?”

    For those who haven’t yet watched show:

  14. Rizla on September 18, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Inspiring show overall — a necessary crack in a mainstream hasbara wall that isn’t gonna topple overnight. For most USA CNN viewers, this is radical stuff — food is a great way to humanize people and fly under the mainstream media radar. Hard to imagine this show airing on CNN even a few years ago. Bourdain had guts and empathy to do it, regardless of the flash and hype and “balance” typical of the network.

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