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View Full Version : BBC Trains Staff with Houmous

04-02-2006, 12:11 PM
The Arab-Israeli conflict? 'It's houmous v falafel'
By Chris Hastings, Arts Correspondent
(Filed: 02/04/2006)

For more than half a century, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been one of the most complex and intractable struggles.

But, if the BBC's Jeremy Bowen is to be believed, understanding the origins of houmous - mashed chickpeas with oil, lemon juice and garlic - and falafel - deep-fried chickpea balls - provides the key to unlock the Middle East.

Bowen, the Middle East editor, is introducing a training course to help 8,000 news staff understand the conflict. His contribution, available on the BBC's intranet, is one of three training modules. The others deal with editorial policy and reporting the European Union.

The courses, overseen by Vin Ray, the deputy head of news gathering, are a response to the critical Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly.

Journalists are supposed to spend more than an hour tackling imaginary news scenarios, and can make progress by ticking the correct boxes.

Some are refusing to do it. The module on the Middle East is the most controversial. In it, Bowen says houmous and falafel are national dishes for Palestinians and Israelis. "They both claim to have invented them. There are two versions of the truth," he says.

"Now, what about the life-and-death issues here that really matter? Jerusalem; the Holy Places; the control of land and water; the future of Palestinian refugees? Well, just like houmous and falafel, there are two competing narratives."

One BBC employee said that the course was an insult to staff who risked their lives covering the conflict. "It has not gone down well with staff who have spent a lot of time in the Middle East. "

A BBC spokesman said the courses had seen a positive response. "The course on the Middle East introduces some very serious issues."

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10-03-2006, 12:05 AM
The different responses that different persons have to the post that began this thread are very illustrative of cultural differences. Perhaps it can be used to wonder upon cultural differences among Muslims?

What is the first verbal phrase that comes into any other Muslims mind about this thread?

I am an Australian and in my mind the first words that came were "foodfight", but it had a picture of a BBC canteen in which I once had lunch in London. But then I naturally automatically proposed to my self that any Jihad in Australian ought to seem to be overtly and comically like children fighting at the dinner table.

What are other folks minds automated with? But perhaps you might prefer to wait until after Ramadan to post.


10-03-2006, 08:00 AM
I like houmous. Never tried falafel, but I think I'd like that too. See, no conflict. :p :)

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