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Disgraced Academic Steven Salaita Is Back With Another Gem: Israeli Hummus Leads to Genocide

After calls to murder Jews lost him his job, it’s time for radical culinary theory

Liel Leibovitz
September 07, 2017

Remember Steven Salaita? After taking to Twitter to celebrate the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys—and wishing the same fate on all of their kin—the bigoted and muddle-minded academic lost his position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, stumbled onto the American University in Beirut, and was found subpar for that gig, too, a move he naturally implied was all the fault of the Zionists.

Now free from even the slightest pretext of academic seriousness, Salaita took to an online publication to share some groundbreaking high theory: Israelis stole hummus from the Arabs, a culinary aggression that, far from being a mere kitchen caper, heralds the genocide those chickpea-fancying Jews are planning against their hapless Palestinian neighbors.

Salaita’s prose has always been one of his most enduring qualities, succeeding to sound simultaneously breathless and obtuse. Here he is, then, on how those grinchy Jews stole hummus:

We should remember that while chefs, shopkeepers, and propagandists validate the theft, the main culprit is the Israeli government, which brands falafel the “national snack” and advertises a plethora of Levantine dishes as authentically Israeli in tacky Brand Israel campaigns.

State involvement in the pilfer of Palestinian food illustrates that we shouldn’t reduce the issue to individual consumption. It’s a systematic effort to validate settler colonisation.

It’s no shock, then, that Palestinians and their neighbours get salty whenever hearing the phrase “Israeli hummus.” Using Arabic food as a symbol of Zionist identity hands over the day-to-day victuals of the native to the coloniser. It’s a project of erasure, a portent of nonexistence, a promise of genocide.

Hummus, Salaita concludes, is really a metaphor, the tasty, pasty, plated embodiment of an “ideology defined by a rapacious appetite for other people’s possessions.” Never change, man.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.