Grim's Grub: The 2009 war between Israel and Lebanon

How one Biblical story led to an unprecedented conflict between two countries

Photo illustration /

Israel was at war.

It's a sad state of affairs that that statement may elicit little or no shock. If there's one nation more constantly in conflict with its neighbors, I'm unaware of it.

Officially, the war began in 2009. I say “officially” because the war's foundations had been laid much, much earlier.

You see, Israel had claimed ownership of something that the Arabic world claimed for itself, specifically Lebanon.

It was Lebanon's Minister Fadi Abboud who officially started the 2009 conflict — and surprise, surprise, it was because of a biblical translation.


Israel had claimed this property as its own because of Ruth 2-14, a book estimated to have been written in the time of Judges, after the conquest of Canaan and before 1050 B.C., which they point out is significantly longer than Lebanon's 68-year history.

Abboud, in reply, points out that the property gets its name from Arabic, which is over 2,500 years old.

The conflict almost has parallels to the United States and the Soviet Union. Those who were watching were almost certainly holding their breath as they competed for the biggest and best "weapon" they could enter into the conflict.

It was a veritable arms race, though maybe the space race is more similar. It was a matter of national pride and some worried the tension over the conflict could turn to violence at any moment.

Lebanon claimed success first in 2009 with their invention, which weighed over two tons. No doubt they patted themselves on the back, but Israel was on their tails.

The success lasted only months before Israel responded. Their creation was one whole ton heavier.

Lebanon did not respond in 2009. They may have needed to regroup, plan and lick their wounds.

Even more likely, they needed more resources, because they didn't simply respond with a one ton improvement. Their response was 23,000 pounds, a whole 11.5 tons, unveiled in May 2010.


That record still stands, and while there is no saying Israel couldn't renew their efforts to usurp Lebanon, for now they stand for the size of their "horse" in the fight, and not a shot was fired, which is appropriate as the conflict boils down, basically, to words.

The words for chickpeas.

You see, Israel quotes the book of Ruth, saying: "Come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the hometz."

Israel says this quote is proof of their ownership.

Abboud, however, points out that the word “hometz” in modern Hebrew means “vinegar,” which is a popular dip for crusty bread. By comparison, Abboud said the Arabic word for chickpeas is proof of their ownership.

Then again, Israeli proponents say that the modern word hometz may be for vinegar, but the historic word “himtza” also means chickpeas, and is what Ruth is referring to here.

It's possible that the "war" could have been avoided altogether, except that Abboud, truly a minister — but of tourism — had traveled to France where they credited Israel with the invention of hummus.

And thus began The Hummus War between Lebanon and Israel, where each country fought by setting three new records for the creation of the biggest batch of hummus, resulting in the current record of 11.5 tons of hummus.


Lemon Dill Hummus

Photo illustration /


  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • Naan flat bread

Place the garlic into a food processor with the lemon juice. If not already minced, you can use the food processor to do so now.
In a small pot, mix the chickpeas and baking soda and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 12 minutes or until the chickpeas have softened and their skins have fallen off. Skim any floating skins or debris off the top.

Drain the chickpeas and discard any skins that can be easily removed. Rinse in cold water. Combine all the ingredients, except the naan bread, in the food processor and process on high speed for one minute. Add ice water and then blend again for another minute. Taste and add more salt if needed.

This can be served like a spread for crackers, or a dip for chips, but may be most simply enjoyed on a flat bread.

Infused Oil and Vinegar for Bread Service

  • Boiling water
  • 5 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 large, hot chili of your choice
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar

Choose your rosemary sprigs, garlic and chili (if using). Rinse them in the boiling water very briefly just to clean them. Set them aside to dry. Once dry, move on to the next steps.
You can either cold infuse the oil and vinegar over a longer period of time simply by placing the rosemary and crushed garlic cloves into a bottle and the pepper and vinegar into another bottle to be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, or you may infuse them over a shorter period of time.

Either way, you will want to infuse the pepper in oil at least for a few days in the refrigerator. Be warned, adding these ingredients changes the pH of oil and vinegar and, if unrefrigerated, can harbor botulism.

Add the oil to a saucepan along with the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs. Heat over a medium burner and continue cooking until the garlic turns golden brown. Once this has happened, turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool before straining into a clean glass jar or bottle.


Add another rosemary sprig and sample for taste. If both the vinegar and oil have absorbed as much flavor as you wish, you may proceed.

Once ready, slice a crusty bread very thin, or even into small cubes depending on the setting. In a shallow saucer, add a small layer of infused oil, then drizzle infused vinegar over the oil.

You may add as much or as little as you like, depending on personal taste. Dip the crusty bread into the oil/vinegar mixture and enjoy.

Bread service is best enjoyed in the company of others. It could easily be paired with the hummus recipe.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Opinion by Travis G. Grimler
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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