The March 1st edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Fifth Floor’ included an item described as follows in its synopsis:
“Tala Halawa of BBC Monitoring takes us on a tour of her hometown, the Palestinian city of Ramallah.”
Amanor: “Now, ‘My Home Town’: the series where we ask a Fifth Floor journalist to tell us about the things they find unique or special about their home towns. Tala Halawa works with BBC Monitoring. She takes us to the West Bank city of Ramallah.”
While most of Tala Halawa’s monologue is unremarkable, listeners may have noticed two spurious claims. [emphasis added]
Halawa: “Ramallah is so special because it has every available place to worship. Like, Christians have their churches, Muslims have their mosques and it’s open for all cultures and religions.”
Beyond the fact that there is nothing particularly “special” about a town with both churches and mosques, Ramallah – like the rest of the territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority – is clearly not “open for all cultures and religions” when the sale of land to Jews is a criminal offence.
Halawa: “Food is like the main thing that you can do in Ramallah. It’s the main activity. Palestinian food like falafel, hummus, barbecue.”
Some consider falafel to have been invented by Egyptian Copts and hummus to also have originated in Egypt. Regardless of their actual origins, to describe those foods as “Palestinian” is inaccurate. While we have seen similar efforts to promote a politicised narrative using claims of “Palestinian food” before, the notion of the barbecue as “Palestinian” is certainly a new one.