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Food & Hunger

This chef thinks hummus can bring Israel and Palestine together

Flickr: stu_spivack

I’m not a fan of hummus, but I would definitely give it another shot if I was at an authentic Mediterranean restaurant and the meal was 50% off. I think a lot of hummus-haters and lovers would do the same.

That’s the brilliantly simple idea of the owner of the Humus Bar in an area just North of Tel Aviv, Israel—a region that loves hummus.

Book me a flight! Make me a reservation! Hold on, hold on—there’s a catch.

This 50% off hummus meal is only available to pairs. And not just any pairs. A pair that consists of an Israeli Jew and an Arab.

You see, violence has once again escalated in Israel and Palestine. Animosity between the two countries is high. It’s always been high, but flames of hatred have been stoked in the past few years. Looking at just some of the very recent history, Israel heavily bombed Palestine in 2014, killing more than a thousand civilians. Since (and before that) Hamas (or unaffiliated Palestinian groups) has sent a steady stream of missiles into Israel. And kidnappings, attacks and general hatred have become commonplace among the two populations.

It seems to be an intractable problem.

But maybe the most simple and human solutions will work. At least that’s what Kobi Tzafrir—the Humus Shop owner—is hoping to find out.

Arabs love hummus. Jews love hummus. When you strip away nationality, both people share this bond and come from the same human race. There’s no reason why more common ground can’t be found.

A hummus restaurant is an especially powerful place to test this hypothesis, because, as NPR writes, they have become “a litmus test of race relations.”

Since October, Palestinians have killed 10 Israelis in a series of stabbings and shootings. Israeli security forces have killed at least 48 Palestinians, including Arab Israeli assailants, in the same period. In this environment, Israelis who normally visit Arab restaurants have been shying away from them.

Tzafrir thinks that if enough Arabs and Jews meet one another and get to know one another, then maybe some of the animosity will fade.

It’s a slow process and it will reach only a sliver of the two populations. But it’s a good start at peace—after all, any attempt at peace is a good thing. And business has improved for Tzafrir. 

When these pairs sit down together for some free hummus, they’ll be making a powerful statement of solidarity for everyone to see.  

Solidarity among humans from warring cultures. Solidarity for peace. And solidarity for love of good food.

As Tzafrir told NPR:"If you eat a good hummus, you will feel love from the person who made it," he says. "You don't want to stab him."