An Israeli shopkeeper has come up with an innovative way to inspire world peace -- or at least create dialogue within his tiny country: offer a enticing discount for Arab and Jewish patrons who will break bread together.
Kobi Tzafrir, who owns a hummus bar in the northern Israeli town of Kfar Vitkin, a fairly short drive from the Palestinian-run West Bank, offers a 50 percent discount to Jews and Arabs who will agree to eat together at the same table.
Posted in Hebrew, Tzafrir notes that what he offers is not just a cultural blend of the quintessential Israeli fare ("Arab hummus" and "Jewish falafel"), but a reminder of the ambiance that once was common in many Israeli restaurants.
And his idea seems to be working. According to Al Jazeera, many mixed tables have already offered to pay the full price to show their support for the idea. The restaurant draws Palestinians from the other side of the border, as well as residents from the historic Jewish enclave, which has existed as a community since the 1930s. It's apparently a hit with tourists from Japan as well, who are eager to experience the true Mideast ambiance.
“If there’s anything that can bring together these peoples, it’s hummus,” Tzafrir told the Times of Israel. It's true: Few things seem to mend old hurts better than a dish that shares a common history.
In fact, the idea got me thinking: Could it work here? Are there communities or viewpoints where a common sharing of bread could enhance dialogue and in, so doing, promote commerce together? Could shared meals help Democrats and Republicans find common ground as they gear up for the 2016 elections? What about oil and gas industrialists and renewable energy proponents? Climate change activists and global warming skeptics? No matter how entrenched our issues seem at times, we all have our yearning for common terms ... and common goals, it would seem, since Tzafrir's hummus bar is benefiting from the concept's success.
“Scared of Arabs? Scared of Jews? By us, we don’t have Arabs! But we also don’t have Jews… By us, we’ve got human beings!"
And it's a great way to build business, as well as bridges.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.