Lebanon: Israel stole our falafel
Country's Industrialists Association says Jewish state trying to claim ownership of traditional Lebanese delicacies like tabouleh and hummus, plans international food-related suit
Lebanon is planning on filing an international law suit against Israel for violating a food copyright, Fadi Abboud, president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, told the al-Arabiya network.
The Lebanese claim is that Israel markets original Lebanese food like tabouleh, kubbeh, hummus, falafel and fattoush which the Lebanese considered their trademarks prior to the establishment of the Jewish state.
Abboud explained that the fact that Israel has been marketing Lebanese delicacies under the same names and ingredients around the world has caused great losses to Lebanon, and that while, “the full extent is unknown, it is estimated at tens of millions of dollars annually.”
Abboud, who prepared a memo on the subject, based his case on the, ”feta cheese precedent” that occurred six years ago.
At that time, France, Denmark and Germany asserted that Greece cannot have a monopoly over the production of this type of cheese. Greece managed to prove in international institutions that it is the cheese’s “originator” and won the case.
Until that point, the three prosecuting countries produced 12,000 tons of cheese a year.
The court ruled that from then on, other countries could not use the name “feta”, as this cheese is “largely associated with Greece’s history and has been produced under this name for 6,000 years.”
Thus, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs decided to grant Greece the sole right to produce and market the cheese under that name.
The Lebanese official claims that not only does Israel use the names of Lebanese foods but it also markets them in ready-to-eat plastic boxes for European and US consumers as if these were traditional Israeli foods.
According to Abboud, while Lebanon never registered the names and ingredients of these delicacies, “it can refer to the Greece precedent since these foods are historically known as traditional Lebanese foods.”
He also said that the Lebanese Industrialists Association is working on registering all the foods and ingredients and submitting a report to the Lebanese government since only it can appeal to the international courts against Israel and “prevent it from stealing the foods that others produce."