Hamas vs hummus: What’s the difference?

26-year-old American lone soldier builds on viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, launches own awareness campaign, of Hamas vs Humous.

Humous (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite the similar sounding names, if there was any confusion about Hamas – a terrorist organization that threatens the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis – being bad, and hummus – the pureed chickpea spread – being good, American Corey Feldman wants to clear it up.
The 26-year-old lone soldier, building on the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, wanted to make his own awareness campaign, that of Hamas vs Hummus.
In a video first shared on his Facebook page, Feldman walks on camera in full combat gear along with two fellow soldiers. He explains the premise: “Hamas, as you may know, is a terrorist organization that threatens the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. Hummus, on the other hand, is delicious.”
The people of the Middle East may not agree on much, but the popularity of the ubiquitous spread is as close to a general consensus as we’ll ever get.
Much like the ALS campaign – which has people pour a bucket of ice water on their head while nominating friends to do the same or donate $100 to research – Feldman nominates others to accept the Hamas vs Hummus challenge. Those who do must smear the dish on their face, extol the dangers of Hamas, and/or donate $100 to fundraising group Friends of the IDF.
In another video, one nominee to the challenge says: “Islamic terrorism is a disease, which, like ALS, is fought aggressively and unapologetically wherever it takes root. Hamas is possibly the worst thing to come out of the Middle East. Hummus is quite possibly the best.”
The ice-bucket challenge, which went viral online and has succeeded in raising $15 million for ALS research, has been co-opted by other groups to raise awareness for their cause. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have taken to pouring buckets of rubble on their head, explaining that water is too precious to waste and electricity too scarce to use to freeze it.
In India, journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi has started the Rice Bucket Challenge, asking people to buy or cook a bucket of rice to give to those in need.
People are also encouraged to contribute 100 rupees ($1.65) of medicine to a hospital if they can’t donate rice.
Feldman was finishing up his reserve duty near the border of the Gaza Strip when he released the video on August 18. He wasn’t supposed to be in Israel, which makes his story all the more captivating.
Having made aliya and joined the IDF in 2010 serving in Givati, Feldman returned to the States shortly after he finished his service in October 2013. Arriving in Israel in June to attend the weddings of some friends, his plan was to stay for only two weeks. But when the war broke out, he offered to volunteer for the army, collecting donations and delivering supplies to bases. Shortly before the IDF ground forces began to pull out of the Gaza Strip on August 3, he was called up for reserve duty, and went down to the Strip.
With the mass coverage the war was receiving in the news, and the resulting widespread anti-Israel sentiment, Feldman wanted to do something that brought attention to the plight of Israelis, but in a humorous way.
“We had a ridiculous amount of hummus lying around our living quarters,” Feldman said in a Skype call from New York, to which he returned last week.
“There was a pile-up of delicious hummus, that was going to waste.”
Feldman is refreshingly American, delivering his jokes with a matter-of-fact air. He alternates between the serious and the farcical easily, which comes through in the video.
But jokes aside, the main objective of the video, Feldman says, is to raise awareness of the dangers of Hamas.
“I don’t know if there is the knowledge base about Hamas around the world,” Feldman says. “Simple facts, like the number of children [160] that were killed in the construction of the terror tunnels, or that the Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Every individual can find his or her own fact, that’s the idea, that each person makes it personal.”
The first people Feldman nominated were his siblings and girlfriend in the United States. Their response was, he says, “pessimistically supportive.”
“‘You’re an idiot, what were you thinking?’” Feldman recounts.
But the effect was almost instantaneous. The pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs posted the video on its website, which garnered 1.3 million views in less than 36 hours.
“It snowballed from there,” Feldman says.
Those that he nominates have 24 hours to spread hummus on their face and trashtalk Hamas, or they have to donate $100 to Friends of the IDF.
The video was posted on the website of Israel-advocacy NGO StandWithUs and was shared over 13,000 times. The president and CEO of StandWithUs also took part in the challenge, and Feldman says even someone in China put hummus on their face.
In an email statement to The Jerusalem Post, FIDF said: “We greatly appreciate creative efforts like the one carried out by these three IDF soldiers to support the wide range of well-being and educational services FIDF provides. Such grassroots initiatives are deeply inspiring and remind us of the critical importance of caring for Israel’s brave soldiers, including many Lone Soldiers from around the world, who defend and protect the State of Israel every day.”
Asked which is the best brand of hummus to use for the challenge, Feldman is coy.
“I’m waiting for my sponsorship to come in, so I can’t commit to one brand or another.”
As for where he would like to see the challenge go to next, “Omri Casspi,” he says immediately, nominating the Israeli basketball star who plays for the Houston Rockets. “I would like to nominate him in this article.”
Casspi, you have 24 hours.