A Palestinian ambassador’s boast that he assaulted an Israeli student in an argument over the origins of falafel is drawing strong criticism from British Jewish leaders and veteran Israeli diplomats.
Manuel E. Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) chief envoy in London, asserted in a recent Lebanese television interview that when he was a graduate student at the Ohio-based University of Toledo in 1976, he got into an argument with an Israeli student who claimed “that falafel and hummus are Israeli foods.”
Hassassian continued, “I said to him: ‘How dare you? You steal my land, exile my people and now you are robbing us of our folklore and national foods? You claim that it is Jewish food? It is our food, of the Palestinian people, and I will not allow this.’ I then grabbed him and gave him a beating.”
Mark Gardner, director of communications for Community Security Trust, a British Jewish defense organization, said, “Given the volatility of Israel-Palestine political debate on university campuses, anything that suggests boasting about physical violence is deeply inappropriate: and doubly so for someone in such a senior position.”