James Zogby: Calling Hummus "Israeli Food" = "Cultural Genocide"

Zogby is a Democratic National Committee member, Chair of The [Bernie] Sanders Institute, and founder and president of the Arab American Institute.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Tyler O'Neil (PJ Media) reports, with copies of the tweets (which began with a Rachael Ray tweet); it apparently wasn't a joke on Zogby's part.

I should say that there's nothing wrong with pointing out that something which we label as coming from place X actually comes from place Y instead. Many ethnic groups are proud about what they see as their inventions, and want to get credit for them. (Sometimes such corrections as to origin are themselves mistaken, and often the true origin of a food or some other discovery is actually hard to track down, though that's a separate matter.)

But let's keep a sense of perspective here: There's nothing remotely connected to "genocide" here—if anything, it's demeaning to actual genocide (or even to lesser crimes) to use such a label here. I don't like the term "cultural genocide" at all, precisely because mass murder is very different from other things; but at least that term has some plausible claim to analogy when a government tries to coercively extirpate (often with threat of prison or physical abuse) some cultural practice, for instance if it bans the use of some language or cultural practices by a minority group. There's no plausible claim to analogy here.


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  1. Checking Wikipedia, Hummus is originally a popular Levantine dish, but also notes “Hummus is a common part of everyday meals in Israel” and “Many restaurants run by Mizrahi Jews and Arab citizens of Israel are dedicated to warm hummus …”.

    Zogby accuses Rachael Ray of “Cultural Genocide” for tweeting a photo of an Israeli feast including hummus, and declaring that tweet a threat to peace in the Middle East … ???

  2. The Ray tweet didn’t even say the food originated in Israel – it literally said it was being eaten in Israel. It’s hard to dispute that! So Zogby a) can’t read, and b) wants to make a bigger and bigger deal of his misunderstanding.

    I’d like to get his take on the following – which I’ve heard a number of times, “As American as pizza pie.”

  3. Histrionic, emotional, hyperbolic arguments from a liberal?!?! Say it ain’t so.

    1. The snipes at liberals at this site are predictable, cherry-picked, and partisan, lacking even the slimmest academic veneer.

      So is the silence with respect to the clay feet and ridiculous claims and conduct of conservative icons such as Roy Moore, Alex Kozinski, and the author of the recently revealed banning of certain words by the Trump administration.

      Carry on, clingers. Enjoy your chuckles, as a respite from contemplation of what the improvement of America’s electorate (less rural, less religious, less white, less backward) means for right-wing preferences over time.

      1. ak is consistent, eh. But it must suck to be him.

      2. Enjoy your chuckles, as a respite from contemplation of what the improvement of America’s electorate (less rural, less religious, less white, less backward) means for right-wing preferences over time.

        On the plus side, the Norks will have fewer targets to hit.

    2. Eagerly supplied massive negative generalization regarding liberals from Jesse?!?! Say it ain’t so.

      1. It’s all good.

    3. It’s all good.

  4. Some years ago (it seems like a lifetime) the Chinese restaurant I used to work at had a negative review in a local mag that said our company was guilty of committing a “culinary ethnic cleansing”. That one was difficult to read. 🙂

  5. I, too, am annoyed by Rose Twitter.

  6. I am reminded of Sausage Party , in which Sammy Bagel Jr. and Kareem Abdul Lavash are united by their love of Hummus.

  7. Yawn, Jew hater hates Jews.

    For someone who yearns for genocide, you would think he would learn the definition though at least.

    1. Yeesh, this comment is as bad as some people and the race card.

      Something can be really dumb, and about Israel, and not be about another Holocaust.

      Maybe Zogby has a history of antisemitism, but I don’t even see this as antisemetic, just hilariously dumb.

      1. It’s not antisemitic in the abstract, but it’s of a piece with the general denial of any Jewish connection to Israel. There’s a strand in the pro-Palestinian movement that denies that Jews ever lived in what is now Israel, that there was ever a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, etc. Therefore, it goes, Middle Eastern food can’t be Israeli because Israel is a European colony.

        1. That’s certainly more plausible than yearning for genocide.
          And it does rather explain the motive behind this bizarre claim.

          1. There are Jews in Israel.

            If you deny they have any right to live there, how do you propose to get the Jews out of Israel except for killing them?

            Denial of Israel’s right to exist is Jew hating. Do you deny this?

            Zogby denies the right, hence Jew hater. QED.

            1. We could offer them American citizenship and a free move to the United States. If enough of them moved to West Virginia, west Texas, Alabama, or a similar spot, the benefits could be enormous for all concerned.

              (Also, disliking any country that is based on and discriminates based on organized religion seems the sole reason-based course for an adult.)

            2. You’re reading a lot into hummus, Bob.

  8. since when is Roy Moore any icon of anything save stupidity?

    1. Kirkland is the VC’s resident troll. He hasn’t posted an intelligent, substantive comment in years. He hasn’t even posted an original comment in years; he just posts the same thing over and over again.

    2. Roy Moore has been elected by Republicans to prominent positions more than once. He won a Republican primary a few months ago. He nearly won a Senate position, and was by far the choice of Republican voters in the general election. He attracts endorsements and financial support from Republicans throughout the country.

      If Roy Moore is an embodiment of stupidity, what does that say about the current iteration of the Republican-conservative coalition.

  9. Live and let live. People will be Sneetches, let them. It’s all a bunch of virtue signaling in defense of a hollow solidarity.

    1. JordanW: “It’s all a bunch of virtue signaling in defense of a hollow solidarity”

      Yes, until there are real consequences. Zogby’s comments are more evidence of a terrible turn by many Democrats/Progressives. As with the anti-GMO posting today, it ain’t just the right wingers.

      1. Zogby being ridiculous to Democrats becoming more antisemetic is a helluva jump.

        GMO/anti-Nuc proves Dems aren’t immune; there’s no need to start speculating into more to prove both sides do it.

  10. Zogby is speaking “Newspeak” here, in the sense of George Orwell’s “1984.” “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought–that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc–should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.”

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