Arab DNC Leader Denounces Rachael Ray's 'Cultural Genocide' in Calling Food 'Israeli'
James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and a board member of the Bernie Sanders think tank The Sanders Institute, denounced a tweet as "cultural genocide."
Celebrity cook Rachael Ray posted a picture of stuffed grape leaves, hummus, beet dip, eggplant, tabbouli, and sun-dried tomato dip, describing the "holiday feast" as an "Israeli nite."
This unleashed a storm of controversy, with various commentators claiming the feast was actually "Levantine."
Zogby jumped into the fray, declaring, "Damn it Rachael Ray. This is cultural genocide. It's not Israeli food. It's Arab (Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian). First the Israelis take the land & ethnically cleanse it of Arabs. Now they take their food & culture & claim it's theirs too! Shame."
Bret Stephens, an op-ed contributor for The New York Times, was aghast. "Please tell me this is a joke tweet, James Zogby," he tweeted. "Or is it 'cultural genocide' when Arabs use Israeli technology? Do you use Instant Messaging? Waze? If so, please stop."
Zogby doubled down. "The equivalent would be if I start using IM & Waze & then declare them Lebanese technology," he replied. "This isn't a joke. It's about a history of cultural appropriation & a systematic effort to erase Palestinian history & culture. Peace is possible, but not on those terms."
Stephens shot back, "Hummus seems to have first been mentioned as a Cairene food in the 13th century or so. Maybe Maimonides came up with it." If this suggestion is correct, hummus would be Jewish — as Moses Maimonides was a prominent medieval Jewish philosopher.