I owe a thank you to whoever posted on Facebook about the Jewish woman who uploaded a video about matzah ball soup on TikTok and was promptly and improbably, accused of “cultural appropriation.” Without that social-media post, I would have missed a frankly bonkers episode of antisemitism.
As Purim was just over two weeks ago and as we’re fast approaching April 1st, I wanted to be certain this was neither an April Fool joke or a Purim spiel. But no, a “Free Palestine” supporter, posting as Mocrorebelarmynl, really had responded to a recipe for this quintessentially Jewish dish by claiming it had been “stolen” from the Palestinians.
Presumably he/she meant “stolen from Palestinian Arabs,” since Palestinian Jews (at least some of the Ashkenazi ones) probably made matzah ball soup for at least part of the millennia that Jews lived in the region.
As it’s mainly eaten by Ashkenazi Jews, I imagine the origins of matzah-ball soup lie in soups and dumplings made across Eastern Europe. Jews living there having adopted soup and dumplings (matzah-balls AKA kneidlach, are, after all, simply Jewish-style dumplings), adapted them in accordance with taste and kashrut, and then taken matzah-ball soup (AKA kneidlach soup) with them to Western Europe and America as they fled pogroms and persecution. (I am not suggesting, by the way, that Sephardi Jews don’t eat or make matzah ball soup – after all, that TikTok video that so offended the “Free Palestine” Jew-hater was an instruction for making Moroccan matzah ball soup – I am simply saying that warming soups are more a feature of cold-climate cuisines and thus figure less in Sephardi Jewish culinary traditions).
But while conceding here that matzah ball soup is probably not 100% Jewish in origin, it has been made by Jews for a couple of centuries at least, and for the particular combination of chicken broth, vegetables and matzah-balls/kneidlach, it has become widely recognised as a quintessentially Jewish dish.
Indeed, the idea that it was “stolen” from Palestinian Arabs is such a ludicrous and patently absurd allegation that it is only worth addressing because it rather neatly illustrates how some “supporters” of Palestinian Arabs – having absorbed (and believed) all the lies told by Israel’s enemies – have become not just fanatical Israel-haters but have tipped right over into full-blown antisemitism.