Southwest pegs Palestinian cuisine as “Israeli”
United States airline Southwest’s inflight magazine, Southwest: The Magazine, may not be known for it’s literary achievements but it provides readers with some light reading to get their minds off travel.
This month’s issue has caused controversy after an article appeared titled “Israeli Cuisine.” The article profiles Domenica, a restaurant in New Orleans, which features “Israeli” food. There’s one problem though, most of the food described and pictured is actually Palestinian food.
For instance, Hummus and Tabbouleh have been around long before the existence of the state of Israel and even the Labneh in their cheesecake has long been a staple of Palestinian cuisine.
However Southwest didn’t limit the appropriation to one restaurant, they went on to list various “Israeli” restaurants in other U.S. cities, including a New York restaurant that specializes in falafels—another Palestinian dish that out dates the existence of Israel. They encourage readers to tweet their favorite Israeli dish for a chance to win an Israeli cookbook.
Palestinian-American journalist and cofounder of Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah labeledthis as “food-washing.” The food version of white-washing, which is a form of historical revisionism that seeks to elevate an oppressing group’s contribution to a certain field or event (in this case gastronomy) at the expense of those being oppressed.
Similar exchanges have happened when the Jewish Daily Forward attempted to label the Palestinian food Sahlab as the Israeli answer to hot chocolate. The appropriation of indigenous Palestinian culture and food is part of a larger project by the Israeli state to create a national identity through the occupation of Palestine.