Monday, January 16, 2006

Shawarma Lights Up Sharon's Brain?

Last Tuesday, the doctors of Israel's ex-PM Sharon tried to stimulate his brain by putting a plate of shawarma--reportedly Arik's favorite dish--next to his head.

Ironies abound here. First, that Sharon's favorite food would be Arab. (Shawarma, for those readers who do not know, is slices of lamb roasted on a skewer. Like gyros, but much tastier. Shawarma is ubiquitous in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. To my mind, the true shawarma masters are the Lebanese.) Second, that the doctors tried to revive Sharon's brain with the smell of meat, the massive consumption of which probably caused his stroke. (Sharon was also a big fan of other meat dishes prepared in the Arab style, especially kabob.) Third, despite the fact that Israel has tried to turn shawarma, as well as falafel and tabbouleh and "pita" (Arabic bread or khubz) into Israeli national dishes, they remain indelibly Arab in their origins and names. (Although these foods arguably are the "native" foods of a majority of Israelis, if we consider that the majority of Israeli citizens are "Eastern" in origin, if we add together Palestinian citizens and Mizrahi Jews of Arab origin.)

Despite Sharon's best efforts, over the entire course of his career, to deny the Arab/Palestinian traces that Israel attempted to obliterate in the course of its founding, they remain there to haunt him, and perhaps even revive him.

And here is another one of those indelible traces: Sharon is being treated in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. 'Ayn Karim was a Palestinian village that fell to Israel during the 1947-48 war, and was annexed to Jerusalem, its 3000+ inhabitants (Muslim and Christian), expelled. Many of the original homes and churches remain, lending a tony atmosphere to this upscale suburb inhabited mostly by Israeli Jews. Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, is also built on the lands of 'Ayn Karim.

Every time we hear about Sharon and Hadassah Ein Kerem, it reminds us that Arik is being cared for on the land of ethnically-cleansed Palestinians.

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