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Munchies

This Israeli Cafe Is Giving Free Hummus to Jews and Arabs Who Eat Together

Following Israel’s recent upsurge of violence that has seen eight Israelis and more than 40 Palestinians killed, a cafe in the coastal city of Netanya is offering special discounts to Jews and Arabs who dine together.

by Phoebe Hurst
Oct 20 2015, 12:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Aamer Javed

Is there anything hummus can't do? It's the creamy base to your falafel wrap, the sesame-tinged crown atop your pita bread (remember: wipe not dip), and the coverall meat-free option to placate even the most aggressive of vegan dinner guests.

While we can all agree that the chickpea-tahini-oil combo is a great culinary invention, one Israeli cafe is backing hummus as a potential diplomacy tool, too.

Following a recent upsurge of violence in the country that has seen eight Israelis and more than 40 Palestinians killed, the Hummus Bar in the coastal city of Netanya is offering special discounts to Jews and Arabs who dine together.

READ MORE: Hummus Is a Metaphor for Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

In a status in Hebrew on its official Facebook page last week, the cafe said: "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 real excellent Arab hummus! And great Jewish falafel! And a free refill for every serving of hummus, whether you're Arab, Jewish, Christian, Indian, etc."

The post has received over 4000 likes and been shared 1200 times, with commenters from as far away as Japan praising Hummus Bar's "brave" sentiment and "lovely idea."

Speaking to The Times of Israel's Ilan Ben Zion, who has reported on food in Israel for MUNCHIES, the cafe's manager Kobi Tzafrir said that he had seen a rise in the number of Arabs and Jews dining together since launching the initiative.

"If there's anything that can bring together these peoples, it's hummus," he added.

Tzafrir isn't the first to attempt to ease Israeli-Palestinian tensions via the chickpea dip. In August last year, the trend for "#hummusselfies" surfaced on social media, as campaigners posted photos of themselves with hummus in protest against ongoing violence in Gaza.

READ MORE: Why You Should Be Wiping Your Hummus

The idea of Jews and Arabs forgetting their differences over a plate of dip is nice, but hummus comes with its own set of complications regarding ownership. While "hummus" is an Arabic word referring to chickpeas and the dip they're turned into, others argue that the first mention of the dish can be found in the Old Testament, and Israel adopted hummus as its national dish in the 1940s.

As Laila El-Haddad, co-author of The Gaza Kitchen explained to MUNCHIES: "It's not as simple as, 'We like hummus, you like hummus. Why can't we all just get along?' We reject this notion that we can all bond over hummus while ignoring the underlying, core issues: people's fundamental rights and equalities. It's a little deeper than that."

It'll take a paste stronger than hummus to patch together Israeli-Palestinian relations but free refills can't be a bad thing.