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‘Hummus! The Movie’ and the art of whitewashing an occupation

Media Analysis
on 9 Comments

Chickpeas soaked overnight, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt mixed and prepared the right way make a delicious plate known across the globe as hummus (To my fellow Americans, please note that pumpkin spice is not in any way, shape or form part of the ingredients).

Hummus, a staple dish in almost every Middle Eastern household, has been claimed by many nations as “their” dish. People will tell you, with a wide smile, that “their” delectable dish of hummus, is prepared using recipes that were handed down for generations. They will stake their claim of original ownership as they share a plateful of it with you, but they will never share their secret ingredient (again, never pumpkin spice). This mostly friendly feud over ownership of a food that is really owned by none has become a playful “food wars” quip. Take for example this video trailer of “Hummus! The Movie.”

Here is the description as posted by the Israel Film Festival in Singapore on YouTube:

“In Hummus! The Movie we are introduced to three main characters – a hard working Muslim woman, an ever-smiling Jew and a young Christian Arab, who despite their historical and cultural differences, have one thing in common… a passionate love of Hummus!”

Sounds playful and fun right? A fresh breath of air in this Arab-Israeli “conflict.”

But this seemingly innocuous, friendly feud over a dish is not really all that innocent. While some may get worked up about others culturally appropriating what they feel is rightfully theirs, most miss the more insidious effect of such acts of propaganda.

The video is very calculated and well produced to give the viewer the impression, under the guise of a seemingly harmless cultural/religious feud, that Israel is a pluralistic, democratic society. It’s saying, “Look we have Jews, Christians and Muslims living alongside each other and having a fun, friendly dispute over food” Meanwhile every 30 seconds you get a flash of this:

A map with the word Israel in bold over a region that even extends past the boundaries of current day Israel (Israel’s actual land aspirations are a subject of another article).

Screen shot from “Hummus! The Movie.”

In the video, the mention of Palestinians is incidental and unremarkable (the gentleman saying he is Israeli, but his roots are Palestinian) and they are referred to as Arab. Arabic is nothing but white noise in the background as even the Muslim Arab woman is speaking Hebrew.

My issue is not appropriation of hummus, my issue is that the movie continues with a narrative that is untrue and, unfortunately, widely accepted in western societies. A narrative that portrays Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile Israeli bulldozers are razing Palestinian homes to make room for settlements and Israeli forces, supported with a $3.9 Billion annual aid from the US, are shooting peaceful protesters for simply demanding freedom.

Such hasbara (A form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Often, Hasbara efforts includes a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians.) is not limited to the world of food. Israel lately has been riding the coattails of interfaith activities and initiatives to further promote its fictitious image of tolerance and coexistence.

Take for example the latest event making the rounds in the United Sates. A supposed “multicultural women’s empowerment program” where 12 Israeli women (notice Israeli) Jewish, Muslim and Christian share how they “discovered they have much more in common” living in western Galilee. This is yet another attempt at diverting attention from the realities of Israel’s atrocities on the grounds. A government that subjects millions of Palestinians, original inhabitants of the land, to the daily humiliation of military checkpoints and random curfews. The same government that often prevents congregants from attending weekly Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque. The same government that has killed thousands and injured many more.

This faithwashing of the occupation is intended to dupe us into believing a deceptive image of interfaith coexistence on the same land the Israeli government has driven its original inhabitants, who truly coexisted peacefully, from. An elaborate scheme that unfortunately many Muslims have fallen prey to (The event that took place in my town was co-sponsored by a local Muslim organization that did not do their due diligence).

Israel’s occupation of the mind is far more dangerous than its usurping of land. Their conflation of Judaism and Zionism and their constant, tireless barrage of a skewed narrative is nothing but a ploy to cover up and an attempt to scrub all the blood it’s spilled, and continues to spill, over the past 70 years. Israel is an apartheid, colonialist, expansionist government that is aided and abetted by our U.S. government’s unwavering monetary, military and diplomatic support. This intentional sanitization of an ugly occupation further victimizes its victims and we cannot, must not stay silent in the face of such injustice.

This post was originally published on Ahmed Abdelmageed’s blog on October 30, 2018. 

Ahmed Abdelmageed

Dr. Ahmed Abdelmageed is Assistant Dean of student, alumni and community engagement at Manchester University College of Pharmacy, Natural and Health Sciences.Dr. Abdelmageed is a board member of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the United Way of Allen County.

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9 Responses

  1. RoHa on November 1, 2018, 12:06 am

    Do the joys of faith washing include the quaint and charming custom of spitting on Christians? All just jokey good fun, I’m sure.

    And I love the Disney-style map, which takes a chunk of Egypt, a big slice of Jordan, and a bite or two of Lebanon, and makes them part of Israel. Good for a giggle, isn’t it?

    • Misterioso on November 1, 2018, 10:53 am

      @RoHa, et al

      Somewhat off topic, but very important;

      “Birds of a feather……”

      It has been officially announced that there is to be a fascist summit in Brazil comprised of Bibi Netanyahu and his fellow thug, just elected President, Jair Bolsonaro.

      If they could rise up and speak, there can be no doubt as to what the response of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis would be to this disgusting event, i.e., unequivocal condemnation and accusations of gross, sickening and unforgivable betrayal. The horrible irony is overwhelming. Zionism and its monstrous creation, “Israel,” are leading Zionist Jews deeper and deeper into the abyss of pure fascism. Thankfully, however, ever increasing numbers of people around the world, including enlightened Jews, especially youth, are becoming utterly disgusted with the well documented and escalating crimes against humanity they have inflicted on the indigenous Palestinian Arabs for over 70 years. The writing is on the wall!!

      “Netanyahu to travel to Brazil for inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro”

      Netanyahu planeja comparecer à posse de Bolsonaro – Oct. 30/2018

      • Misterioso on November 1, 2018, 2:40 pm

        More regarding the Netanyahu-Bolsonara samba:

        “Netanyahu Congratulates Bolsonaro for Brazil Election Win, Invites Him to Israel”
        Haaretz, Oct. 29/18 by Noa Landau

        “Far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro is an Israel supporter and has promised to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem”

        “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro on the phone Monday and congratulated him on winning the election.”

        “‘I am confident that your election will lead to a great friendship between the two peoples and to the strengthening of ties between Brazil and Israel,’ Netanyahu told Bolsonaro, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office. ‘We await your visit to Israel,’ Netanyahu added.

        “Earlier, a senior diplomatic source said that as far as Israel is concerned, ‘Brazil will now be colored in blue and white,’ referring to the colors of the Israeli flag.

        “Far-right politician Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest democracy, on Monday. The former army captain won garnered 55.7 percent of the vote.”

        “In August, Bolsonaro announced that, if elected, he will close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia in addition to moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Bolsonaro is a strong admirer and supporter of Israel.”

        “Bolsonaro spent much of the campaign exploiting divisions, taking to Twitter to lambaste the rival Workers’ Party as unethical and dangerous. In recent weeks, Brazilians were bombarded with WhatsApp messages that condemned Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad, often making outrageous claims.”

  2. Egbert on November 1, 2018, 5:20 am

    “And I love the Disney-style map, which takes a chunk of Egypt, a big slice of Jordan, and a bite or two of Lebanon, and makes them part of Israel. ”

    Those boundary lines are pretty faint and indecisive. It makes them all look just a little temporary.

    • RoHa on November 1, 2018, 8:38 pm

      Well, there’s a lot more of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon outside those fuzzy borders. Plenty of room for expansion.

  3. Marnie on November 1, 2018, 6:07 am

    The description of this zionist newsreel was enough to keep me from watching the trailer. This particular attempt to try to normalize the apartheid ‘state of israel’ makes me ill. Like watching nazi propaganda films for the world that Theresienstadt is a wonderful family camp, or the propaganda film posted by the circus peanut u.s. president and himself and the missus in Pittsburgh, appearing, what he imagines to be, in full grief mode while declaring how ‘nice’ he and the little woman were treated because it’s all about them. Same with ‘Hummus’; all about ‘israel’ because no one else matters, really.

  4. Elizabeth Block on November 1, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Hasbara is not only nauseating, it’s dangerous.

    I just read Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on the end of WWI. He reminds us that the German people didn’t think they had been defeated. They thought they had been stabbed in the back, betrayed by leftists and Jews. Why? Their government-controlled newspapers had been telling them, right up to the end of the war, that their military were doing fine. They weren’t told about defeats, about soldiers deserting, about sailors mutinying and refusing to obey their officers.

    Without those lies, it is possible, even probable, that there would have been no WWII.

    • Elizabeth Block on November 1, 2018, 1:21 pm

      Correction: Adam Hochschild, not Adam Gopnik.

      • Misterioso on November 1, 2018, 2:45 pm

        @Elizabeth Block

        Regarding Adam Hochschild:

        I wish the mainstream media would occasionally remind us of what was in fact the worst mass slaughter/holocaust of humans in modern history. I am referring to the systematic murder of 10-12 million Congolese by “Christian” Belgian colonists during the latter part of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century when King Leopold II ruled Belgium. He was the founder and owner of what was then known as the Congo Free State. One of the first people of note to refer to this holocaust was Samuel Clemens, aka, Mark Twain.

        As well as mass murder, the unspeakable horrors Belgium inflicted on the natives of the Congo, including amputations of arms below the elbow and beheadings, were prompted by pure greed and chronic racism, i.e., to force them to work like slaves in order to harvest natural rubber on rubber tree plantations, which prior to the invention of the synthetic version, was in huge demand in Europe and America to manufacture tires for the burgeoning automobile industry.

        Written by Adam Hochschild and published in 1998, “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa,” provides an excellent source to learn about King Leopold II and his monstrous crimes against humanity.

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