Palestinian and Brazilian activists have organised a protest stand at the federal University of São Paulo (USP) against the “Israeli Kitchen” exhibition which was scheduled to take place this month. Students, labour unions and left-wing political parties came together with Palestinian flags and banners proclaiming “Free Palestine” at the entrances to the university. They condemned the establishment of the Israeli exhibition which presents food “stolen” from Palestinian culture as “Israeli”.
The protesters prepared dishes of Palestinian food and invited bystanders to taste the “original” versions of the food claimed to be Israeli. They declared that they would not allow Brazilian universities to be used in support of Israeli apartheid and the cultural appropriation of Palestinian culture and identity by Israel and its allies.
The International Centre of the USP promoted an Israeli cooking class at the university for students to learn how to make “the most beloved trio of Israeli cuisine: Falafel + Hummus + Tahini. They will also be able to learn the history of these dishes, as well as taste them!”
Gastronomia israelense na Universidade Católica de Brasília. 🥙 🇮🇱
A Embaixada de Israel realizou um workshop de Gastronomia israelenses para os estudantes de Relações Internacionais da Universidade Católica de Brasília.
A embaixatriz Liora Zonshine ensinou como preparar três… pic.twitter.com/Qmtvhg3hOp
— Israel no Brasil (@IsraelinBrazil) June 1, 2023
According to a member of the Palestine Committee for Democracy in Brazil, Jadallah Safa, organising this “Israeli kitchen” is viewed as a falsification of Palestinian history as everyone knows that falafel is a Palestinian dish. “So we organised a protest to defend our cuisine and reject this falsification,” he explained. “The protest stand succeeded, in one way or another, in disrupting the so-called Israeli kitchen corner although the organiser of the latter called the Brazilian police to remove our stand.”
The activist pointed out that it is a shame that universities are playing a fundamental role in supporting the pillars of the Israeli apartheid regime and justifying the crimes of the Israeli army. “Accepting their participation means accepting that colonialism enters our universities and agreeing with cultural and political normalisation of relations. We, as a Palestinian community, confirm the continuation of our fight in order to cancel all agreements between Brazilian and Israeli universities.”
The participants called for an end to all agreements with the Israeli occupation, and raised banners and pictures reminding everyone of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. They also expressed their solidarity and support for the Palestinian people and the just struggle for the right of return and the establishment of an independent state.
According to the participants, this was the first of many such activities to be held at USP and other Brazilian universities to challenge any promotion related to the Israeli apartheid regime.Palestine solidarity movements go from strength to strength within Brazilian universities in the face of the Zionist presence in Brazil, particularly at higher education institutions. Palestinian and Brazilian activists have, for example, succeeded in forcing the cancellation of the Israeli Universities Festival, which was scheduled to take place in April at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), near Sao Paulo. UNICAMP administrators confirmed that the festival was no longer going ahead after discussions with its organisers. The decision was taken to suspend it “for security reasons”.
“UNICAMP is a democratic space that maintains six agreements with Israeli universities,” said the president of the Israeli Federation in the state, Marcos Knobel. “We believe that the correct procedure is to work in contact with the universities and spread our message. It’s okay to speak out about it, but our management’s assessment is to keep up the conversation with the institutions of both worlds.”
As comidas típicas de Israel reservam sabores surpreendentes para você! 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/kIthFgZia0
— Israel no Brasil (@IsraelinBrazil) June 18, 2023
According to one of the participants in a pro-Palestine protest, the concept of having festivals or activities for different nationalities in Brazilian universities is in itself a good thing, and is encouraged, but not with Israeli universities that condone war crimes against the Palestinian people. She told me that these universities have a fundamental role in supporting the pillars of the Israeli apartheid regime and justifying the crimes of the Israeli army.
University students, she added, have decided not to stop until Brazilian universities come out of their “daze” and both realise and accept how serious the situation is.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.