If people say "this isn't the
right time for Dialogue," you decide for yourself.
But. . .first read this true-today story of a Palestinian Muslim and an Israeli Jew who met in heated conflict at a checkpoint and are now successful restaurant partners and best friends.
It shows how Sustained Dialogue is just what transforms unequal relationships to equal, productive partnerships.
"There are some who subscribe
to the theory that if harmonious co-existence can be achieved within the powder
keg that is a restaurant kitchen, then world peace is, well, a piece of cake. Jamil Amleh and Sasi Habeh are among those
So began "Partners in peace - and food" in
It's about Jamil and Sasi's Jerusalem Steak House,
"If the negotiating table
doesn't work for now, for sure the meal table can," said Fanny Botto, our Palestinian neighbor and Dialogue partner.
"I've been saying for years if Israelis and Palestinians would meet in the kitchen, it would save a lot of bloodshed," added gourmet Judy Bart Kancigor of CookingJewish.com, about the first-of-its-kind cookbook, "Palestinian and Jewish Recipes for Peace," described at:
Sasi and Jamil's offer the closest story in real life to Ari Sandel's WEST BANK STORY,
the wonderful, new 20-minute musical comedy set in the
fast-paced world of competing falafel stands in the
Jerusalem Steak House in Canada is in the tradition of other
Palestinian-Jewish owned restaurants:
Again in today's Ha'aretz in Israel is the unfolding, inspiring story of Sasi Habeh and Jamil Amleh -- Jew and Palestinian -- cooking up the future, making peas, having the thyme of their lives what our lives will look like soon down the road.
Cook up what you can, too.
Published in Ha'aretz newspaper --
Where hallal meets kashrut
By Haim Rivlin
Sassi Haba is what is known as a "hard-core" Beitar Jerusalem soccer fan. He will never miss a match and will always sit in the bleachers on the east side of Teddy Stadium, with its whole repertoire including the group chant "Death to the Arabs." He is such an enthusiast that even his emigration to
That had been a hasty move. Several days later, in consultation with his Palestinian partner Musayed Amla, Haba painted over the symbol in black. The two decided to keep any political identification away from the business. "Politics isn't good for business," they say. This is something of a faux-naif statement in light of what has happened to the two since the local media discovered their story.
Sassi Haba (38) and Musayed Amla (25) met six years ago at the Al-Ram roadblock north of
Haba recalls: "He thought I was from another planet. He was so moved that he asked me for my phone number. Without hesitating, I gave it to him. He looked like a real gentleman." Amla explains: "I thought that if I had the phone number of an Israeli soldier, and one who speaks Arabic, it could help me if I encountered a similar attitude in the future. Today he's a soldier, tomorrow he's a general. Who knows?"
Haba, who was not planning a military career, went back to his post as the cook in the kitchen of a restaurant owned by his family in the Mahaneh Yehuda market in
Amla has 18 brothers and sisters. Some of them emigrated to
A few months ago the father decided to expand into the restaurant business. He purchased a franchise to operate a pizzeria and delegated its management to his son Musayed. But Musayed, a student of management at
The decision to accept Amla's generous offer - full partnership without investing a cent - was not at all simple. "I come from a pure Likudnik home. Very right wing. There was just a meter between talking to you and being smeared over some wall in a terror attack in Mahaneh Yehuda (in August, 1998). The switch occurred after I met with Musayed's father, Jamil. I was astonished that there are Arabs like him. That you can talk to. Arabs who believe in a solution of give and take, who believe in coexistence. The meeting with him changed a lot of things in me."
Before he boarded the plane to
Congratulations and curses
As might have been expected, the story of the two sparked the imagination of the local media, which saw the restaurant they opened as a model of coexistence. A series of media stories attracted a huge wave of customers, a sharp rise in profits and reactions of a potency that Haba and Amla had not expected.
"We received hundreds of phone calls from people who called to congratulate us on the initiative," relates Amla. Dozens of reservations began to flow into the restaurant, which is still in the running-in phase. Excited patrons wanted to see the two men who had cooked up in their kitchen the recipe for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "There were people who really shed a tear," is how Haba describes the emotions their story aroused.
The two learned just how emotional and fraught the business is, even in the multicultural atmosphere of
Can you understand your friends' anger?
Amla: "They didn't grow up under the occupation - they grew up here in wealthy families. They aren't familiar with the situation in the region. How long are we going to keep on killing each other? I've had it. I'm proud to say that I'm a Palestinian, but at the same time it's necessary to say that's it. Enough is enough."