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November 06, 2014

Conflict Kitchen Pittsburgh : breaking Palestinian bread

  • The first rule of Occupation is, don't talk about Occupation.
  • The second rule of Occupation is, no discussion of the subjects as human beings.
  • The third rule of Occupation is, don't let on you're afraid of them.

Conflict Kitchen is an awesome project that also produces wonderful food. The sharing of meals is a universal common reference (see, The Last Supper). Breaking bread together is always a path to understanding and cooperation.

I've enjoyed the Venezualan, Afghan, Cuban, North Korean, and Palestinian projects at Conflict Kitchen.

In October this article conveyed messages from some Israel-supporting partisans. They suggest this phase of the project is one-sided, because it presents Palestinian food and views without including Israeli food and views.

That's like saying: it's a bad Italian cultural display, it doesn't have any Irish food and completely ignores The Troubles.

The brouhaha has legs. The Jerusalem Post headline reads, US Jews outraged over Pittsburgh restaurant's Palestinian menu and then shows a photo of a Palestinian cook pouring oil over a fire (which is totally not a metaphor or a suggested framework, no nothing of the sort):

Thursday brings a Post-Gazette article and also the Conflict Kitchen response to the PG article.

Cui bono? This bit of controversy benefits these factions:

  • Militant Israeli supporters who are unwilling to see Palestinians portrayed as human beings to an American audience.
  • Zionists who are unwilling to see any civil discussion about American support for Israeli actions.
  • Fundraisers who benefit from churning controversy.
  • Those who want to discredit John Kerry and his 2016 Presidential campaign, because his spouse's endowment gave Conflict Kitchen a 50K grant a few years ago to move to their current location

The volatility of the response to the Conflict Kitchen project shows they're afraid of something. What are they afraid of? Just a guess: they don't want increased public awareness of the BDS campaign, a movement to divest from the Occupation just like ethical people divested from South African apartheid. They're afraid of Americans viewing the Occupation as Apartheid. (BDS: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

You can support Conflict Kitchen without weighing in on whether the Israeli's are occupying the Palestinian population, banning their political organizations, denying human rights, and violating international standards by subjugating a population for 40+ years.

It's pretty clear to me that Palestine is a place, that Palestinians are occupied by Israel, that Palestine is in conflict with Israel, and that America is supporting Israel's actions and policies. To me the presentation of Palestinian food and views is completely consistent with Conflict Kitchen's mission.

People who say, don't talk about that and don't eat their food are afraid, and I wonder if that means they know they're wrong.


Paul Heckbert said...

I enjoy their food and their cause. Conflict Kitchen's wrapper for their Palestinian food is interesting reading:

•It’s difficult to move from place to place in Palestine because of the checkpoints. It can take me three hours to get to my university five miles away in Abu Dis. Sometimes the checkpoint is closed when I try to pass through, so I have to return home and miss class. It really depends on whether the soldier on duty that day wants to let you in. It’s their personal decision. They’re not following any set guidelines.
• My husband was killed twenty years ago. He is a martyr. He was wanted by the Israeli army, and they killed him. Even now there is collective punishment for my whole family. For example: my son was six months old when his father died. He wants to go abroad to Cairo to continue his study, but he was prevented from leaving because of his father’s crime. Last year he had his high school exit exams. He scored a 96%, and got a scholarship to go to a college wherever he pleases outside of the country. But Israel prevented him from leaving; they said he was a security risk. If your father, brother, uncle or anyone in your family has been detained by the Israeli police, you will never get a permit to leave. His dream is to be an engineer, but this dream has been destroyed. Even now, twenty years after they killed my husband, they are still punishing my family. ...

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