Saturday, September 1, 2012

Only 'Sort Of'?

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu'a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." Moshe Dayan, Address to the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), Haifa (as quoted in Ha'aretz, 4 April 1969)

In this week's copy of The Australian Jewish News, there's a glossy magazine - Every Woman - a production of the Womens International Zionist Organisation NSW. It contains an interesting feature, Holiday in the past, on Israel's 9 "leading boutique hotels." Says the front cover blurb: "Israel reveals its unique history through its hotels." But dip into this feature and you find that 5 out of the 9 are Palestinian to their foundations:

The American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem: Originally belonged to "the Turkish Pasha and his 4 wives." PALESTINIAN

The Shirat Hayam Hotel, Tiberius: A renovated "1850 building." The hotel was renamed Star of the East in 1946 in honour of the great Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. PALESTINIAN

The Cinema Hotel, Tel Aviv: "The old Esther Cinema, one of the first movie theatres built in 1939." 

The Alegra Hotel, Jerusalem: "Alegra was the daughter of a Rabbi who lived in Ein Kerem at the beginning of last century. Jabara was the neighbouring son of a wealthy Christian merchant. The two fell in love, eloped and had 3 children." PALESTINIAN 

The Varsano Hotel, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv

The Colony Hotel, Haifa: Originally the Appinger Hotel, it belonged to the German Appinger family which fled to Germany in WW 2.

The Efendi Hotel, Acre: One of the "glorious palaces that served the Ottoman rulers in the 19th century." PALESTINIAN 

The Fauzi Azar Inn, Nazareth: A former "200-year-old Arab mansion." PALESTINIAN

And should you consider asking for Israeli cuisine in any of these establishments, keep in mind this little exchange:

Stefan Gates: But is humous originally Jewish or Arabic?

Gil Hovav, Israeli food writer: Of course it's Arabic. Humous is Arabic. Falafel, our national Israeli dish, is completely Arabic and this salad that we call an Israeli Salad, actually it's an Arab salad, Palestinian salad. So, we sort of robbed them of everything.

(From the BBC's Cooking in the Danger Zone: Israel & Palestinian Territories, 13/3/08)

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