News Journalist, Future TV
Osama Ibrahim is a television news journalist who works for Future TV in Beirut, Lebanon. He reported extensively on the 'Hummus War' for the network's nightly news service. Future TV was founded in 1993 by Rafik Hariri, a former Prime Minister of Lebanon. The channel supports the views of Lebanon's Future Movement.
Lebanon, October 2011
Can you tell me about the significance of the 'Hummus War' as you see it for Lebanon?
The issue of the hummus and beans war is not the problem as an expression. The basic problem is the Arabic-Israeli conflict, and when the Israeli enemy tried to confiscate this issue for some reason, hummus and beans became part of this war. That's why the main cause was the Arabic-Israeli conflict, and not hummus and beans.
Tell us about your position as a journalist. What was your reportage about?
At first it was about the confiscation by the Israeli enemy, or their claim that falafel is an Israeli product. Consequently, by talking about falafel, the issue of hummus and beans was discussed as well. We also discussed the Guinness Book of Records issue about hummus. But the main issue was telling the world that falafel is an Israeli product. From this point we made the reportage to assert to the whole world that it is a Lebanese product that definitely affects the Lebanese economy. And that that is part of the conflict with the Israeli enemy. The purpose was to prove to the world economically, politically and culturally that falafel, hummus and beans are Lebanese products.
What was the reaction to the reportage you did about the giant hummus dish, and what did people say? What were the responses you got from the people?
Working as a journalist is all about creating a public opinion supporting the idea you are discussing, in order to explain your idea to the people. Maybe a lot of people did not know that it was a Lebanese product. They took it for granted, since it is part of our customs and tradition. That's why maybe they didn't think about it or about the basis of the issue. Through the reportage people knew more that it is a Lebanese product and its effect on our national economy and the cultural mentality of a Lebanese and Arab citizen in general concerning such issues. As for achieving a Guinness Record, Lebanese people are always motivated to prove how they excel in a lot of fields, and this was one of those fields.
How did the people react? Did you get any responses? Did they like the story? Did they not like it? Did they think it was useless?
The day that issue was brought up it immediately became the talk of the hour. Everyone talked about it. That's why the reportage was a mere echo to what people were already talking about.
In your reportage you referred to the Israeli as the enemy. Is this your view of Israelis in the hummus war? Or is the conflict bigger than that?
We definitely consider the Israeli as the enemy. And the conflict in question is a long and historical one extending from the smallest to the biggest issues. At first it began as a struggle for existence. Then it went on to include the smallest of things economically, socially, culturally, politically, issues related to the water, the land and the refugees. Every issue of life, especially with Israelis, there is some kind of conflict. Internally within the borders of the Arab region, or externally with other countries at the Security Council and otherwise. Hence, the conflict extends from the smallest to the biggest of issues. Israel is definitely an enemy. History showes that it is an enemy, and the future will confirm that, too.
Please explain to us, since a lot of foreigners don't know that Lebanon is at war with Israel. They don't understand how exactly.
First of all, whether we like it or not, we are part of the Middle East region. This region included a nation called Palestine before the English and the French mandates to the Arab region in general, which later became known as the Middle East region. The Balfour Declaration that gave the Jews the right to settle in Palestine, which is the historical land of the Palestinians, was the base upon which the Jews, under the protection of the British mandate, established their Zionist entity in Palestine. That was what triggered the conflict at first. And consequently, Palestinians were displaced into surrounding areas such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt or the rest of the Arab nations. The beginning of the conflict was the occupation of Palestine. Years after the declaration of the Palestinian State, the Palestinians were practicing their natural right in defending their country through Lebanon. So, Israel occupied the Lebanese southern land. After the Israeli occupation of the Lebanese south, Israel also occupied Beirut, which is the second Arab capital after the declaration of the state of Israel. The Lebanese resistance rose up;the Israeli occupation was set back, first from Beirut, then from Sidon. And in the year 2000 Israel left the Lebanese south. Resistance was in the form of an armed conflict between Israel and the Lebanese resistance. In the year 2000 Israel was out of most of the Lebanese land, except for some occupied areas. Lebanese captives remain detained in Israeli prisons. This was another form of conflict. To sum it up, today we are living in a stage where some of the Lebanese land is still occupied. Israel is violating the Lebanese sovereignty whether at sea, on land or in the air, on daily basis. Also there's currently the issue of the oil or gas that Israel is trying to seize and control.
I see, you are translating word for word.
For him to understand what was said.
But concerning to the situation between Lebanon and Israel, aren't we at war with Israel because there is no peace agreement?
We can never commit to a peace agreement with an occupying entity whose existence we don't even recognise. How can we hold a peace agreement with an entity we don't even recognise?
Since Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese all like hummus, would you imagine that one day they would all sit at the same table and eat from the same plate?
Who? The Palestinians, the Israelis...
And the Lebanese
No, this is farfetched. Simply, farfetched. Why? Because what had happened is more than just a surreal painting that the world dreams of. The world did not actually live that experience, or experienced the pain inflicted by the Israeli occupation and assault on the area, especially in Lebanon and Palestine. A very long painful and miserable history that can never be wiped away by just sitting at the same table.
The last question is: how often do you eat hummus? And what do you like about it?
Hummus is a very delicious dish. There are several types of hummus. But the main advantage is that it is a complete nutritional meal rich in protein, which is one of the main nutrients needed by the human body regardless of the taste, and regardless of how we make it, since we make hummus in several ways. It is one of the main meals rich in protein needed by our bodies.
Israelis say that hummus is good for your sex life.
Of course, just like any other protein-rich meal. That's possible, yes.