The Harvard Business School is "deeply troubled" for having offended Arab sensibilities due to the mischaracterization of various foods appearing on the menu of the dining room's Israeli Mezze Station, Brian Kenny, chief marketing & communications officer of the school, was quoted by Al-Arabiya English as saying Friday.
The controversy over the Israeli food station arose after Lebanese Harvard graduate Sara el-Yafi on October 28 posted to her Facebook page a letter of protest to the university describing the Israeli buffet's menu as an affront to Arabs, as Hummus and Couscous, for example, are not of Israeli origin.
"That 'Israeli Mezze Station' is the ultimate multicultural, multireligious 'f'-you in the face of ALL Arabs at once from North Africa to the Levant," Yafi wrote.
"Israel already has a hard time keeping face in the Arab world for the way it has 'appropriated' its lands since 1948, don't make it worse for them by having them appropriate other peoples' foods as well," she added.
Yafi also pointed out that Halloumi was in fact "Cypriot," and therefore "until Cyprus becomes another conquered Israeli territory, Halloumi is considered NOT Israeli."
She concluded that at the very least the buffet should be renamed "Mediterranean Mezze Station."
In response to Yafi's Facebook protest, which as of Friday had garnered more than 4,500 "likes," the Harvard Business School communications officer Brian Kenny reportedly said that “we are deeply troubled that we offended anybody by doing this buffet item, particularly considering that our reason for doing the international buffet each day is to celebrate cultural diversity.”
“We've been following the comments and the [Facebook] posts," Kenny continued, which have "prompted us to have some extensive conversations here internally...to understand how this happened and to make sure that it doesn't happen again."