Culture

Israeli and Palestinian Comedians Think Hummus Can Help Bring Peace to the Middle East

YouTube screenshot of Toby Muresianu and Sammy Obeid, and hummus in the shape of Israel.

Two stand-up comedians, one Israeli and one Palestinian, say the two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can agree on one thing: the virtue of good hummus. The two teamed up with an Israeli-American public relations professional to make a hilarious video last year demonstrating that despite all their differences, Israelis and Palestinians share at least one thing in common.

The video centers around Toby Muresianu, an Israeli wearing a beanie with the Israel flag, and Sammy Obeid, a Palestinian wearing a “Free Palestine” t-shirt. Muresianu and Obeid dispute whether Jews or Arabs invented hummus, and the two engage in a cook-off — before the United Nations.

“As an Israeli-American who lived in Israel for 10 years (currently in California), I have worked side by side with Israelis and Arabs together in the same work environment,” Ish-Shalom, who helped write the script and played the arbitrator who called for a United Nations cook-off, told PJ Media on Monday. “When we are together, enjoying food, there is very intimate rich experience. Everyone loves quality food!”

The comedian even suggested, perhaps jokingly, the shared love for delicious foods like hummus could help bring peace to the Middle East. “Maybe what can bring peace is if the Jews and Arabs create a recipe for a Middle Eastern Dish!” Ish-Shalom quipped.

He insisted that “Jews and Arabs have a lot in common. Historically speaking, many Jews and Arabs originally come from the same cities, where they had similar access to food and resources. Thus, it is important to note that it is likely they ate the same foods with very similar recipes. One have more paprika or more pepper, but at the end of the day both are hummus!”

“Hummus is a way to get individuals from both sides of the aisle to the table to listen to one another, and learn from one another,” Ish-Shalom added. “Part of the biggest problems in the world is that we are scared of individuals who are different from us. Hummus can be one step forward in helping to start that dialogue, and learning about one another!”

Obeid, the Palestinian partner who also wrote the script, agreed. “I agree that food should bring people together. Sure, we can debate politics and history over dinner, but we should all be able to agree that delicious is delicious,” he told PJ Media.

“I think the video calls attention to how Jews and Palestinians — as with many groups of people in close proximity — fixate on minor or historical differences that drive us apart, but when you look at the big picture we have so much in common … to the point where nobody can tell our hummuses apart,” Obeid and Muresianu wrote in a joint statement.

The humorous video, and the goodwill shown between Palestinians and Israelis in the comedians’ friendship, suggests there is hope that a shared love of hummus may bring together people who have longstanding historical feuds.

Late last year, celebrity chef Rachael Ray caused a storm by referring to allegedly Palestinian hummus as “Israeli.” James Zogby, an Arab member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), went so far as to call Ray’s tweet “cultural genocide.”

Mediterranean food, whether in Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Greece, Turkey, and even Iran, is both delicious and comparatively healthy — and people across the world have discovered the virtues of hummus. Whether it was invented by a Jew or by a Palestinian, the food is beloved everywhere.

Let’s hope Ish-Shalom, Muresianu, and Obeid are right that hummus is more a reason for Israelis and Palestinians to sit down together at the dinner table than it is a reason for unfounded accusations of “cultural genocide.”

A shared love for hummus most likely will not paper over the longstanding conflict in the Levant, but it could bring more Palestinians and Israelis to a shared dinner table, fostering increased understanding and decreased fear of one another.

Click “Load More” to watch the hilarious video.