Mama’s Palestinian Kitchen facebook group
During the Covid pandemic Abbas Hamideh decided to start a new Facebook group. He wanted to create a platform on which Palestinians and others could share their love for Palestinian food. But not only for food. And not only for Palestinian food. A platform where they could talk about food in general, Palestinian food in particular and Palestine above all.
There were other groups on Facebook for Arabic food. But according to Abbas the admins would not allow Palestinians to speak openly about their struggle. The Palestinians did not feel support in that group. So one night he decided to create a new group. And he had no idea that Mama’s Palestinian Kitchen was going to be so popular.
Only a few days after he started the group so many people had joined that he needed help to moderate the group. He asked some of his friends to support him. Within less than two years the group almost reached 100k followers. There are between 50 and 70 posts daily. Most of them are about food, recipes, questions related to cooking Palestinian food and videos and photos from Palestine that are related to food and heritage.
Abbas Hamideh a Palestinian American activist
Abbas is not only the founder of Mama’s Palestinian Kitchen. He was also one of the founders of Al Awda coalition for the Right of Return.
Abbas’ father is originally from Deir Yassin in West Jerusalem and his mother from Issawiya in East Jerusalem. His father was twelve years old when he witnessed and survived the Deir Yassin massacre. During this massacre Zionist militias attacked the village and killed a large number of people. This brutal attack was the reason why many Palestinians in surrounding villages decided to escape to save their lives.
His father ended up in a refugee camp in Jericho and in 1967 he was again forced to leave when the Israeli army occupied the Westbank. The family ended up in Puerto Rico and later in the United States.
The right of return of Palestinian refugees
When Abbas was twelve years old his father took him for the first time to Palestine. They also visited what is left from Deir Yassin, the village where his father spent his childhood. There is not much left. Most of the houses were demolished. There are a few buildings still standing. It is now a neighborhood of West Jerusalem called Givat Shaul. On the lands of Deir Yassin they built a hospital for people with mental health issues.
During this visit Abbas was very much affected by the memories of his father, by the great sadness of loss and the injustice that the Palestinians had to live with. This is the moment that he became an activist. And since then he was in every demonstration, he became active later in the University and then in Al Awda. He put the right of return of the Palestinian refugees in the diaspora on the agenda.
Palestinian food and heritage
Everybody loves food. And Palestinian food is connected to the land. To the history. To the heritage. Palestinians also love other kinds of food. So the Facebook group is not exclusively about Palestinian traditional food. But it is definitely a to-go-place if you want to learn more about the Palestinian cuisine. There is a special tab with documents that has recipes. You can see many photos of the food that Palestinians cook.
In this podcast episode we also talk about food appropriation. It used to make Abbas very angry when Palestinian food was marketed as Israeli food. The humus and falafel that have been part of the Palestinian tradition for centuries, are now sold as Israeli. But these days he laughs about it. “There is no Israeli cuisine. Israel is a country only since 1948. In Israel you can find Jewish people from all over the world who brought their own cuisine. You can eat amazing Polish food or Moroccan food or Russian dishes. It is a melting pot of cuisines. But when they market our traditional food as Israeli, it is a joke. They stole our land and now they also steal our food. Because they have nothing to be proud of.”