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LEBANON: Launching a falafel war against Israel

October 7, 2008 | 11:04 am

Hummus1It sounds like satire, a tall tale meant to illustrate the downright pettiness of the Middle East's ongoing rivalries and resentments.

But apparently, it's totally serious.

According to a report by the Deutsche Presse Agentur, Germany's news agency, a Lebanese trade union is planning to sue Israel for claiming that the Jewish state has propriety over traditional Arab cuisine such as falafel, tabbouleh and hummus, which Lebanese consider their own.

The president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, Fady Abboud, has apparently said he's preparing a lawsuit in international courts against Israel for "taking the identity of some Lebanese" meals, according to the report, which was picked up by the Israeli media, including Haaretz:

"In a way the Jewish state is trying to claim ownership of traditional Lebanese delicacies such as falafel, tabbouleh and hummus [costing Lebanese] tens of millions of dollars annually. ... The Israelis are marketing our main food dishes as if they were Israeli dishes."

He said his union is trying to register Lebanese foods and ingredients with the government in Beirut "so it can appeal to the international courts against Israel," Abboud said.

According to DPA, he cited the Greek "feta cheese precedent" of six years ago, when Athens managed to prove it had invented Feta cheese.

By registering Lebanese foods and ingredients, "we are preventing Israel from stealing our main food trademarks and selling them around the world," Abboud told DPA.

But Lebanon might have a tough time arguing its case. Syrians and Egyptians also lay claim to such yummy Lebanese appetizers as hummus and tabbouleh.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: The salad combination with falafel balls at the Haifa Restaurant on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

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