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We were supposed to do a tour in Jericho today but it was cancelled. What was interesting to me telling other Israeli Jews where we were going is that many wanted to come, some did not but all said the same things: “But it’s not safe”. Most Israelis (unless they travel in the West Bank) assume that anywhere Arab is not safe for Jews. This is not a debate about the why (Israelis hear Palestinian violence or threats towards Jews daily for 100 years) or if this is fair or comparable (Palestinians also fear Israeli soldiers/it is a minority who commit violence).

 

My question is that if there are two peoples living on this land and we have to find a way to live together somehow- how can this be done when we are so cut off from one another and violence keeps us away from even trying to get to know each other? How do we change the mantra of ‘Arabs are violent’ or ‘Israelis are violent’?

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Commentator Robert Haymond, a Jew, presumably, who resides in a settlement in the Westbank, brought up a very real situation, one which he has witnessed and which actually exists, yet with all the high sounding phrases and ideas, not one poster even bothered to consider the example of Rahmy-Levy's, a business in which Jews and Arabs appear to actually co-exist and on a dynamic level.  Apparently, it seems too much for mepeacers to actually contemplate.  As a businessman myself (at least, in my latest incarnation), I'd say that we are the best people to model peaceful solutions on because we are practical and quite non-political when it gets down to the nitty-gritty.  So, Peacekeepers, what about the example of Rahmy-Levy's?  

@Ghazi, I agree that business connections are an excellent opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to work together. I live in Tel Aviv next to a hummus restaurant owned and run by Palestinians who employ Jews. They have been part of the fabric of the neighbourhood for years.

Some Palestinians are supportive of these connections but the dominant Palestinian narrative in the West Bnak is that dealing with Jews is "normalizing the occupation"- meaning we won't deal with Israelis until the occupation ends by Israel. They are full of crap because a large portion of the products in every store are Israeli products that they someone keep buying. What matters though is what they claim in public so they will claim to boycott all things Israeli (including businesses that work with Palestinians). I hope that the rational people will win out because it is in Palestinian interests to deal directly with Israelis and the occupation won't end until Israelis begin to trust Palestinians (which requires them to deal directly with Israelis).

Just now read your apt comment, Corey.  Thank you for adding interesting information (the Tel Aviv hummus restaurant) and your analysis about what would be required for peace, i.e., direct communication and subsequent trust.  There are too many people (unlike yourself) on this forum who comment void of context.  

By the way, speaking of hummus, about one year ago the Lebanese press was critiquing Israel for "pirating" Lebanese hummus recipes while calling the recipes their own.  One cartoonist even dared to entitle one of his illustrations, "The Great Hummus War", depicting a fat Muslim with a scimtar  in his shield with a Crescent shaped design embossed on it across the table from a paunchy Jew with an automatic rifle across his lap with the Star of David emblazoned on it both greedily munching down gobs of hummus with pita and both men saying at the same time, "Your hummus even outdoes our hummus"...  What's the moral of this story?  Food lovers on both sides of the divide are willing to put aside their weapons and their differences if only the humus is excellent.  What do you think?

Before I get into your specific question/suggestion, I have to point something out: Arabs love to claim that Israelis stole hummus and felafel to link simple foods to the idea of theft of land. The idea being that Jews all came from Russia and Poland and therefore have no connection to Middle Eastern foods. 55% of Israelis Jews today are of Middle Eastern origin- meaning their grandparents, parents or they themselves come from Arab countries so hummus, felafel etc. is cooked at home. These are the people who generally own the hummus places in Israel (along with many Palestinians). Therefore hummus is just as native for them as it is it for Palestinians. People like me who come from non-Arab backgrounds of course enjoy these foods and eat them often in the same way that Palestinians (and other Arabs) eat potatoes which are NOT native to this side of the world. Arabs always want to focus on the negative (using the word theft) and in this case, use this issue to create a false image of Israelis to serve their needs- to believe that all Jews are colonist thieves even of food- instead of taking it as a compliment that non-Arabs adopted their food and the majority of Israelis have an Arab culture as well.

About your idea. Of course meeting and talking and including food is very important. But it doesn't lead directly to solutions or common ground. There is a phrase for years in Israel relating to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue groups called 'hummus and hugs' referring sarcastically to the belief that if Jews and Arabs just sit down over a plate of hummus, everyone will leave understanding each other. It isn't that easy. If it was, we would have peace years ago. Solutions require years of trying to understand the other even when what they say threatens what you already believe about the other or yourself. It is really tough work. Hummus (and any other food) definitely needs to be involved in my opinion because food calms people, connects people and even brings up issues such as the example above of the theft of hummus as a microcosm example of the conflict in general.

Once again, thanks for your apt, informative and interesting reply, Corey.  The cartoon, itself, was extremely humorous but it's hard to describe without the illustration much less trying to translate it from Arabic to English.

Amos Oz: Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute — one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise, Review of A Tale of Love and Darkness, from National Review

I find Amos Oz to be an overrated writer to the extreme and full of phoney sentimentality.  Perhaps you should write him, Sussan, and ask him to read (or reread) the Hamas Charter.  From the standpoint of Hamas, it's an ideological struggle and no amount of compromise will assuage its (Hamas) need to destroy and decimate.

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