ABSTRACT

Our journey started three years ago with a joint research project that looked at the role of food in the context of Israeli and Palestinian relations. The focus of that work was initially on the Arab and Arab-Palestinian contributions to Israeli culture and identity through the examination of a number of well-known food items, practices and traditions that had been adopted and later appropriated and celebrated as ‘Israeli’ by the Jewish-Israeli society (see, Mendel and Ranta, 2014). Our main finding was that Israeli food culture was shaped by its encounter with the Arab region’s food culture, and more importantly, only following a process that we referred to as de-Arabisation, food items were entitled to be seen as truly ‘Israeli’. That is to say, elements from the Arab and Arab-Palestinian food cultures were initially adopted and adapted by early Zionist settlers as desirable and useful, and mostly as native and local. These elements, through their appropriation and nationalisation, became synonymous with Jewish-Israeli food culture and national identity, while the Arab and Arab-Palestinian origins and contributions were either marginalised or totally erased.