Yale removes, then quickly reinstates ‘Israeli’ couscous salad in dining hall after Jewish student pushback

Photos of the signage at a Yale University dining hall circulated on social media this week after the word “Israeli” was removed from a popular salad dish, prompting a swift response from the school. 

Yale sophomore and editor in chief of The Yale Free Press Sahar Tartak first reported the change in a post Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying, “At Yale, the years-old, popular ‘Israeli couscous salad with spinach and tomatoes,’ has been renamed in our dining halls as the same exact dish but without the word ‘Israeli.'” 

After another student shared a photo the following day showing a dining hall label for the salad offering that included the word “Israeli,” Tartak included her own photos and said, “Here’s the before/after, so that no one is misled. The change was made, then undone upon outreach from Jewish students. Dining administrators emailed me this: ‘Considering it is the main ingredient, it is appropriate to remain in the title, and we will correct this oversight.'”

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A closer look at the X images shows the dining card labels have dates in the bottom lefthand corner. The first image from Tartark is labeled “Israeli Couscous Salad” with a date of “Lunch, 11/1/23” while her second with “Israeli” missing is dated “Lunch, 12/11/23.” 

The other student’s photo with “Israeli” back on the food label is dated “Dinner, 12/11/23.” 

Yale Hospitality sent their response to the student’s concern, which appeared to match what Tartak reported, to Fox News Digital, aiming to provide context on the process of reviewing and planning new menus, which they said began in July.

“Authenticity of the food and naming of the recipes have been a concern brought to us by students in the past,” the message said. “There were times that they felt our food did not ‘authentically’ represent the country or ethnicity referenced in the name. To that end, our team made the decision to remove names of countries and ethnicities from recipes.” 

“However, you have raised a point that merits further consideration,” the message to the student continued. “In this case, Israeli Couscous is indeed an actual ingredient and is explicitly listed on the ingredient list. Considering it is the main ingredient, it is appropriate to remain in the title, and we will correct this oversight.”

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Israeli couscous differs in size, texture and production method when compared to regular couscous. 

The message said that Yale Hospitality was committed to “the principles of diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging.”

Yale told Fox News, “The menu item changed sometime this semester as part of an ongoing process that began in July. It has since been changed back as indicated above.”

In October, Tartak wrote a pro-Israel column in the Yale Daily News that was hit with an editor’s note two weeks after publication, reading, “This column has been edited to remove unsubstantiated claims that Hamas raped women and beheaded men.” 

After protest, the editor’s note was retracted with the acknowledgment that the rapes and beheadings had been previously verified.

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