JERUSALEM—When wandering around Israel, one’s first impression is colored by the country’s food—from restaurants and food stalls, to billboards and souvenir shops. In fact, one of Israel’s most recognized postcards, sent by many tourists every year, depicts a pita bread and falafel, topped with an Israeli flag and the caption—“Falafel: Israel’s national snack.” What is particularly interesting about falafel, as well as many other food items depicted as Israeli, is that they are also an integral part of the food culture of the Middle East as well as the local Palestinian culture. While it’s hardly clear whether this food is fundamentally Israeli, Arab, or Palestinian, it is a reality that questions of ownership and authenticity of food items like falafel have become another contentious element in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

From the outside, Izbeh does not look like a typical restaurant. Its...

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