Lebanese take aim at Israel over hummus

Thu Oct 9, 2008 10:10am EDT
 
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BEIRUT (Reuters Life!) - Lebanese food makers aim to prove that dishes including hummus originated in their country in a campaign to stop Israeli manufacturers from using the names to market the same foods.

"Our battle is to prove that all these names and specialities and foods are Lebanese, as Greece did with feta cheese," said Fadi Abboud, president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists.

EU feta producers other than Greece have been forced to call their cheese something other than feta after a court ruled in 2005 it was a protected designation of origin for Greece.

"Go to the exhibitions. You see that our entire kitchen has become an Israeli kitchen, being produced in Israel," said Abboud.

It was not clear how the Lebanese manufacturers planned to pursue the claim targeting Israel -- which has invaded its northern neighbor numerous times since the Jewish state was established in 1948.

The Lebanese claim is also likely to face complications because dishes including the chick pea-based hummus and tabbouleh, a salad, have long been consumed across the Middle East.

"The row with Israel is very easy (to win), because clearly Israel did not have a common food culture before it was formed," said Sami Zubaida, an expert on the history of Middle Eastern food. "What is a problem is to say that they are specifically Lebanese as opposed to Syrian, or Palestinian or southern Turkish," he said.

(Reporting by Reuters Television, editing by Paul Casciato)

 
<p>People stand around a large plate of hummus in Jerusalem May 5, 2008. Lebanese food makers aim to prove that dishes including hummus originated in their country in a campaign to stop Israeli manufacturers from using the names to market the same foods. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun</p>