With the US presidential election days away, the re-election campaign of US President Barack Obama is pulling out all the stops in its efforts to secure support from Jewish voters, which it believes can be won by pandering to Israel.
And then there’s this shrewedly timed interview in Haaretz with the White House chef:
President Barack Obama - as his critics often like to remind Jewish voters - has not visited Israel since 2008. But, if he misses the region’s flavors, Obama needs to go no farther than the White House kitchen.
“We make our own hummus,” said White House executive chef Cristeta (Cris) Comerford, in a special interview with Modern Manna last week. “It’s a very wonderful dish, very nutritious.”
The point of the article seems to be to say how much Obama likes “Jewish” and “Israeli” foods. The article continues:
So, if Obama loves hummus it must mean he loves us Israelis too! Israelis, self-acclaimed hummus connoisseurs, prefer their hummus with fresh pita bread, but even they have learned to accept the American usage of hummus as a dip for veggies.
But hummus, as it turns out, is only one of a medley of Middle Eastern favorites served at the Obama White House. Another dish chef Comerford is fond of is babaganush, the Middle Eastern eggplant spread.
Notice how Israelis are positioned as the “connoisseurs” and arbiters of how hummus should and should not be correctly consumed.
There is absolutely no mention of the Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian or other indigenous Arab origins of these foods in the interview, where hummus, its key ingredient tahini, and the flat bread Palestinians typically eat with them are easily subsumed into “Jewish foods” used to celebrate Zionist occasions, such as Obama awarding a medal to Israeli war criminal Shimon Peres:
Part of Chef Comerford’s job was to plan and prepare a reception for Israeli president Shimon Peres when President Obama honored him with the Medal of Freedom last June. “We did a lot of the kosher-style canapes, we had salmon, tahini, hummus, home-made pita and a lot of Middle Eastern dishes,” said Comerford. “It was not strict kosher, it was a kosher-style menu.”
Where Israel cannot get away with claiming these cultural products exclusively, another trick – used also in this article – is to describe them as “Middle Eastern,” a generic term used to obscure their Arab origins.
“Middle Eastern” is an identity which Israel claims – whenever convenient – to appropriate the culture of local people whose land and rights it is busy violently stealing, while simultaneously attempting to erase and even outlaw their identities and history.
Now, it seems, the Obama White House is only too happy to help. Bon Appetit!