Saturday, November 24, 2007

Will Crab Cakes at Annapolis Peace Talks Signal a Pro-Arab Tilt?

When Dipnote, the State Department's Blog, asked the public a Question of the Week about the up-coming Middle East Peace Conference [What Tangible Results are Necessary for the Annapolis Conference to be Deemed a Success?] it got a snarky reply from Ronald in New York, whose Ten-Point Plan for Success is:

1 - 40 seats occupied.
2 - No verbal or physical violence.
3 - Saudi support for Israeli/Palestinian agreement.
4 - Everyone has a copy of the "Roadmap"
5 - Sponsorship by Garmin or Tom-Tom.
6 - Crabcakes on the menu.
7 - No Hezbollah or Hamas disruptions.
8 - President attends full conference.
9 - No "Oil for Peace" deals.
10 - Separate checks.

Those are all worthy goals, but it was the crab cakes criterion that grabbed my attention. I know that I would certainly want to have crab cakes if I found myself in Annapolis, but has Ronald thought through the diplomatic implications of offering crab cakes at a Middle Eastern Peace Conference??

The Associated Press has, and it ran a story today on the Kosher and Halal complications of menu-planning for the summit conference. The Arab delegates will have a big culinary advantage over their Israeli counterparts, it seems.

"Crab cakes and oysters are halal," said Dr. Muhammad Chaudry, president of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. "All types of seafood are OK," as long as they're not prepared with alcohol, he said.

The Israelis should be so lucky. "I have no idea what they're going to eat," said Rabbi Ari J. Goldstein of Temple Beth Shalom, a Reform synagogue in nearby Arnold, Md. "They can either buy their stuff at Trader Joe's and borrow someone's kitchen ... or they can just go vegetarian, which is what they're probably going to do."

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