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The Lebanese-Israeli food fight
Why the two countries are playing tug-of-war over hummus
 

The “age-old recipe” for hummus—chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, and olive oil—has a new ingredient: lawsuits, said Abu Dhabi’s The National in an editorial. Lebanon, which says it invented the dish, is suing Israel to stop its companies from marketing their version of “the region’s most popular dish” as hummus. Lebanon claims this “theft” robs its economy of tens of millions of dollars a year, but that’s probably a conservative estimate.

Lebanese hummus is “the pedigree of dips,” said Rachel Shabi in Britain’s The Guardian, “but in reality nobody knows exactly who first started making the stuff.” Israelis are “hummus fanatics,” but that doesn’t mean they can claim it and falafel as their “own national dish.” And the Lebanese aren’t the only Middle Easterners “riled” by Israel’s food grab.

Lebanon might actually win the case, using “the feta precedent,” said David Kenner in Foreign Policy online, under which the European Union recognized the tangy cheese as uniquely Greek. But it’s unlikely to win “points even with a domestic audience.” It will just show that Hezbollah has rockets while “all the Lebanese state can muster is frivolous lawsuits.”

 

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