Guided food tours of Israeli Jews to Palestinian towns in Israel are increasing in popularity in recent years. Indeed, the relations between Jews and Palestinians in Israel are often negotiated through the plate, and such food tours allow these relationships to be examined by both local Palestinian hosts and their Israeli-Jewish guests. In this article, I argue that food tours in Palestinian towns in Israel allow Palestinian citizens of Israel to express controversial sociopolitical messages and discuss them with Israeli-Jewish participants thanks to the unique characteristics of food tourism: a multisensory experience for tourists that creates value for the destination and its residents. I demonstrate how the practice of exploring and blurring symbolic boundaries through these tours creates a space that facilitates the delivery of explicit and implicit messages regarding civil rights issues, and even highly explosive topics such as national identity. The innocuous and ostensibly apolitical nature of food allows Israeli-Jewish tourists to come to terms, at least to a certain extent, with messages that may contradict some of the significant Zionist-Jewish narratives. This article is based on ethnography conducted from 2015–17 in Kafr Qasim, a Palestinian town in Israel. I joined “Ramadan Nights” tours that sought to present the customs of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar in which, according to religion, Muslims fast from morning until nightfall. I show how the tour facilitates the “digestion” of messages that many Israeli Jews would otherwise find hard to accept, such as the massacre of forty-nine dwellers of Kafr Qasim by the Israeli military in 1956. I conclude by discussing the use of food and hospitality as a means of creating intimacy and challenging power relations and their role in facilitating the digestion of difficult messages.
Digesting the Massacre: Food Tours in Palestinian Towns in Israel
Azri Amram is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. His ethnographic research focuses on the relations between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in food spaces. He serves as Secretary of the Israeli Anthropological Association.
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Azri Amram; Digesting the Massacre: Food Tours in Palestinian Towns in Israel. Gastronomica 1 November 2019; 19 (4): 60–73. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2019.19.4.60
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