Thursday, 19 May 2011

Whole Foods Hearts Palestine - Committed to promoting propaganda

Strolling through Whole Foods in Kensington the other day, I almost fell into my cart when I saw a very chic looking Palestinian Cuisine cookbook for sale.
What a sleek piece of nation building propaganda. But who wrote this cookbook? What ties do they have? What exactly is Whole Foods promoting through the sale of this book (besides a nation that does not exist, and a made-up people who serve as puppets for the Arab world when they need to muster up some fire against Israel)?

Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, the book's author, has been a player in several Palestinian endeavors such as the Bethlehem Project, and she worked at the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation until 2008. A quick read through documents relating to these organizations is a great lesson in Pali propaganda.

The Bethlehem 2000 Project was a Palestinian initiative which received a cool 25Million USD from the World Bank, in addition to private funding and monies from other national governments, to improve infrastructure and promote tourism, all in the name of nation building. Through this funding, the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation was founded (and funded). You can read the full report on the Bethlehem 2000 Project here, it is 41 pages but worth having a glance at. The B2000Project funded numerous initiatives, and in the end guess who was blamed for the project's uncontrollable shortcomings?
You guessed it: Israel.

The overriding and ultimately decisive factor was the Israeli military response to the Palestinian Intifada. This led to the occupation of the area municipalities, the curtailment of the movement of people and goods, the devastation of the Palestinian economy, the crippling of the tourist industry and, of course, the inability to implement key project subcomponents.

Apparently the Intifada would have been alright, as long as Israel had not responded to it.

The Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation dabbles in various local projects, and is largely established for the purpose of building a national Palestinian identity. Sweden now provides a large amount of funding to the centre, and a highly recommend having a look at this February 2011 report about the centre and its goals (and Sweden's goals).
Guess what the first word of the report is?
You betcha: Israel.

A couple excerpts:
With the Israeli occupation of lands internationally recognized as the basis for a Palestinian state, and the de facto colonization by Israel of parts of these lands through a policy of settlement, the historical Palestinian cultural landscape has achieved an increased strategic importance. As the Israeli settlements have become de facto statements of Israeli sovereignty, restored and preserved Palestinian sites and buildings have become de facto statements of Palestinian presence and legitimacy. In the city of Jerusalem, where Israel is claiming full national sovereignty and where the Palestinian population(more than one third) is largely treated as an unwanted minority, the political significance of cultural heritage preservation cannot be underestimated.

As the territorial extension of a future Palestinian State continues to be a matter of contention, and with the seemingly never-ending expansion of Israeli settlements in the area of Jerusalem and the occupied territories,the preservation of historic Palestinian sites and buildings has become part of a Palestinian strategy for de facto state-building.

A large part of this heritage was lost in the aftermath of the war of 1948 when two thirds of all Arabic villages in the part of Palestine which became Israel, were wiped out. In the remaining parts of Palestine, Gaza and the West Bank, a lesser but similar form of destruction took place during and in the aftermath of the war of 1967,with whole villages being erased from the map. Under Israeli occupation destruction of cultural heritage has continued.

(Hey I wonder if the authors of this report are from Malmo?)

What kind of projects is the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation funding??
According to their website, on June 13 2007 the centre inaugurated the Dar Abu Swayy in Artas. There are few Abu Swayys in the world, incidentally one Daoud Abu Swayy (who was from Artas), carried out a suicide attack in Israel. He blew himself up in the Jerusalem Hilton. Coincidence??

Christiane Dabdoub Nasser wrote an article about her cookbook, which was published in This Week in Palestine. Here, in her own words, relating food and her cookbook to the need for Palestinians to triumph over the evil Israelis:

The incremental closures of the last few years, intermittent embargoes and an increasingly depressed economy have been looming factors in changing many people>s lives, including their eating habits, and the isolation of Jerusalem has been dramatic for aficionados of cosmopolitan cooking who can no longer shop for these little extras that add a touch of exoticism on their table. I am quite aware that
gourmet experiences are not a priority when so many are deprived of the basic necessities of life, and am by no means trying to belittle the much graver existential concerns that arise as a result of the degradation of the political
and economic situation, and the moral issues that have surfaced as a result of the erection of this ignominious Segregation Wall, which is scarring our landscape at the four points of the horizon. I am just pointing out to yet another threatened aspect of our quotidian, our culinary habits, which cannot be eluded or underestimated. Small as it is in the larger scheme of our national survival, this aspect of our life reflects in fact another instance of the erosion of our culture and a regression of the remarkable cosmopolitanism it has proudly cultivated over the centuries and which had distinguished it in the region. When all indications point towards the threatening growth of a monolithic, mono-vocal culture in our midst, then everything should be of concern, even our food practices.

You can click here to read the full article. Check out the whole issue, which just doesn't really coincide with the whole life in Palestine is unliveable narrative.

So, when will Whole Foods start carrying an Israeli cookbook? Don't hold your breath.