Food Fight at Harvard Business School
The school’s “Israeli mezze” menu sparks controversy among Arab students.
Photo via Facebook
Sara el-Yafi, a graduate student at Harvard Business School, was offended last month when she noticed that the dining hall put together an Israeli-themed menu of mezze plates that she felt insulted her cultural heritage. So Yafi took to Facebook, where she denoted the true origins of each menu item (harissa = from Tunisa and Libya; halloumi = from Cyprus; hummus = from Egypt) and denounced the school for being culturally insensitive to Arabs. An excerpt:
Dear HBS, that “Israeli Mezze Station” is the ultimate multicultural, multireligious fuck-you in the face of ALL Arabs at once from North Africa to the Levant…
If you insist on giving no honor to the Arabs (many of whom are Harvard students/alumni- “hi!”), and/or if you insist on never ever speaking of Arabs in culinary worth (since we’re only ever referred to as warmongers and terrorists), at least have the decency of calling it MEDITERRANEAN MEZZE STATION.
So far, Yafi’s post has been liked more than 4,700 times and shared more than 3,400 times, and she’s garnered news coverage from the Jerusalem Post and Al Arabiya News. Brian Kenny, spokesman for Harvard Business School, said he was “deeply troubled” that students were offended by the menu options, “particularly considering that our reason for doing the international buffet each day is to celebrate cultural diversity.” The school will be reconsidering their menu options. But Yafi’s fight may not be over. In her post, she also called out the “sweet and sour eggplant” being served with the mezze plates:
This draws the f*ckin limit. Now this sure isn’t Arabic, but I would like to see Chinatown respond to this.
Looks like we have an international crisis on our hands.