Eat Hummus, Make Peace


Hummus
Photo by Darya Pino via Flickr

Can sharing a meal turn enemies into friends? Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland look at a particular food - hummus. They look at ways this food can bring people of the Middle East together.

Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

Two men sit together at a table. They are eating at a small restaurant in Kfar Vitkin, Israel. Each man holds a piece of flat bread, called pita. One man takes his pita bread and spreads a smooth, thick substance all over it. The substance is a light yellow-colored food called hummus. He takes a bite and enjoys the wonderful taste.

Voice 2  

Hummus is a very famous food in the Middle East. People make it from cooked chickpea beans, olive oil, lemon, garlic and a liquid called tahini paste. People from the Middle East have been making and eating hummus for almost a thousand years. It is a much-loved food! And that is why Kobi Tzafrir decided to start his hummus restaurant – “Hummus Bar”. He wanted “Hummus Bar” to be a place where people could enjoy hummus together.

Voice 1  

In 2015, Tzafrir’s restaurant became famous for something more than his hummus. It became famous for peacemaking! Today’s Spotlight is on Kobi Tzafrir’s restaurant and using hummus to bring peace!

Voice 2  

In Israel, there has been a long history of conflict between the Jewish and Arab peoples. In 2015, violence between the groups increased. This increase in conflict concerned Tzafrir. So, he decided to do something unusual about it. He did not protest or fight. He did not write a letter to his government officials. Instead, he wrote a message on his restaurant’s Facebook page. It said,

Voice 3  

“Are you afraid of Arabs? Are you afraid of Jews? At our restaurant, there are no Arabs, but there are also no Jews. We have human beings! And real excellent Arab hummus!”

Voice 1  

Tzafrir continued his message. He said that he would charge only half price for hummus that was ordered by Arabs and Jews that would eat together. Immediately, Tzafrir’s simple message spread around the world. Hundreds of people ‘liked’ and commented on his Facebook post. And news organizations from around the world began contacting him.

Voice 2  

Tzafrir hoped that charging half price would encourage more Jews and Arabs to eat and talk together. Tzafrir believes that if people know each other, it will be more difficult to hate each other. And he thinks hummus is a particularly good food to encourage peace in Israel. Tzafrir told the New York Times news organization,

Voice 3  

“Hummus is a social food. You eat together and share the pita bread. This is a food that came from Arabs, and that Jews also like a lot.”

Voice 1  

After Tzafrir started his offer, some Arabs and Jews did come to his restaurant to eat together. This made him proud. However, he wanted to increase the number of Jews and Arabs that could eat together in his restaurant. So, in 2016, Tzafrir decided to do even more to encourage peace with his restaurant. He began raising money on a website called Indiegogo.com. On this website, people can give money to Tzarfrir’s cause. They can give money to pay for an Arab and Jew to share a meal. People can also give money to pay for a bus to bring Arabs and Jews to the restaurant to share a meal together.

Voice 2  

Tzafrir says that he will continue his offer as long as he can. He is not just trying to get more people to eat at his restaurant. His goal is much bigger. He told the New York Times,

Voice 3 

“I want to keep this idea for all time. It will be the normal thing here. Maybe in a few years, everybody will forget the difference between Jews and Arab. Maybe then, I will stop.”

Voice 1  

Tzafrir is not the only person who thinks hummus may be the secret to peace in the Middle East. In 2012, Trevor Graham released a film called “Make Hummus Not War.” Graham had heard that there was a legal fight between Lebanon and Israel. The fight was over who ‘owned’ the legal rights to hummus.

Voice 2  

Graham knew that no one country owned the ancient food. But he thought it was interesting to follow the stories of hummus lovers from different Middle Eastern countries - like Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. Some of these people shared how they made their hummus. People from each of these countries make hummus in the same, basic way. But individual people do make small changes to make their hummus different. Most of the people in the film believed that their country was the home of hummus. And they all thought their hummus was the best!

Voice 1  

But, Graham’s film was about a lot more than just hummus. He used the story of hummus to explore bigger subjects of love, hate, conflict and peace in the Middle East. He wrote,

Voice 4  

“Hummus and chickpeas are a symbol of our common humanity. A symbol of our common ancient roots to live, eat, taste and enjoy life. I wanted this movie to communicate that ‘We have more in common than what divides us.’”

Voice 2  

Claudia Rodin is one of the people that Graham’s film follows. Rodin is a Middle Eastern food expert. She was born in the Middle East and grew up eating hummus. Today, she has written many books on Middle Eastern food. And she has even made a television series about cooking Middle Eastern food. In the film, she talked about the power of food. She said,

Voice 5  

“When you eat together, you cannot betray each other.

Voice 1  

Her words are very similar to a famous English language saying. It says: “It is hard to remain enemies when you have broken bread together.” In this saying, the term “breaking bread” means to eat a meal together. So, “It is difficult to remain enemies when you have eaten together.”

Voice 2  

This is definitely the idea that Tzafrir and Graham are trying encourage. But what do you think? Do you think there is power in eating a meal together? Do you think food can turn enemies to friends? Do you think hummus could bring peace in the Middle East? Maybe not. But each small act a person does to build peace makes a difference. And it is definitely a way to try that tastes good!

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Eat Hummus, Make Peace.’

Voice 2  

Tell us what you think about today’s program. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

You can also get our programs delivered directly to your Android or Apple device. Just download our free official Spotlight English app. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever shared a meal with someone you disagree with or do not like? Did it change your opinion of them?

Comments


Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on April 25, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Monday 25, April 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Robin Basselin, Bruce Galland, and Michio Ozaki:

First of all, I want to thank you to develop this great article for us readers and learners of English.
No, I have never.  However, this is a great idea that enemies eat together to bring a piece of Peace. Israel and Palestines need a piece of Peace. There are only fights, guns, deaths, and explosions against each other. Also, the world had already had some damages from these Israel and Palestines people. Please, Israel and Palestines people stop to fight. Live in Peace with God.

All the best,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on April 28, 2016

We share joys. We share sadnesses. We care for the life. We love beautiful good things. We all have desire of peace. We respect beautiful good things. We judge ourselves. We go to perfection. Beautiful good things are important in our lives. Beautiful good things may be more important than our lives. We sacrifice much in our lives. We sacrifice much for beautiful good things.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on May 29, 2016

I think that peace in Middle East will not be achieving whether by Hummus or anything else because the hate between Arabs/Muslims and Jews it is religious roots.
Israel must depends on millitary force in the existence on the promised land/Israel land because Arabs/Muslims not admit to right of Jews in life forever.
Respect