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Journal Article

Consuming Palestine: Palestine and Palestinians in Israeli food culture

Ronald Ranta and Yonatan Mendel
Ethnicities
Vol. 14, No. 3 (June 2014), pp. 412-435
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/24735540
Page Count: 24
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Abstract

This article sets out to study the role that Palestine and the Arab-Palestinians have had on Israeli national identity through the examination of Israeli food culture. Food culture played an important part not only in the emancipation of European Zionist-Jews who immigrated to Palestine before 1948 but also in the creation of the Israeli national identity, including its collective memory, national psyche and desired political aspirations. However, it is impossible to understand Israeli food culture, and Israeli identity and popular culture, without taking into account the environment in which and the people among whom it developed. In that respect, and as argued hereafter, for political and ideological reasons the Palestinian direct contribution to Israeli food culture, and by extension national identity, has been expunged or overlooked. Early Zionist encounter with the Arab-Palestinian people and their culture contained a mixture of romanticisation, admiration and imitation. However, with the Zionist aim of substituting the Arab-Palestinian people by creating a separate political and economic society, the process of encounter changed to replacement, appropriation and deliberate forgetting and rewriting of the past. In relation to Israeli food culture, the Arab-Palestinian food element was marginalised, blurred and reinterpreted as belonging to the Zionist settlers, or as being brought to Israel by the Mizrahi-Jews. In other words, Israeli food culture 'needed' the Arab-Palestinian culture as a source of imitation and localisation, but at the same time desired its de-Palestinianisation, together with the general idea of a separate Jewish state.