Bat-El Malul is a young Israeli shop worker in Jerusalem whom I was introduced to by my Israeli fixer and translator Lee Fishman. Bat-El is a lively young woman with very fixed views on both hummus and the Arab/Palestinian conflict. She lives with her family in the settlement of Eli near Nablus on the West Bank, which Bat-El calls the old biblical name Samaria. Every working day Bat-El travels an hour and half each way to Jerusalem where she works in a shopping mall for orthodox Jews.
Bat-El and her mother were fine hosts the evening we travelled to Eli for filming. Her mother originally from Morocco made a very fine hummus.
Jerusalem & Eli Settlement - September 2011
What is the meaning of your name and why do you think your parents gave you this name?
My name is Bat El and the meaning is the Daughter of God. Why have I been given this name? Until today I am asking myself this question (laughing). May be it's connected... It's because of the religion, my parents became religious therefore they called me Bat El. Bat El is a religious name. I think so, the Daughter of God.
Do you feel like the Daughter of God?
Of course, I feel like I am his daughter.
Where are you from, where do you live?
I am coming from Eli settlement in Samaria in the (Palestinian) territories.
And what do you think of the issue of the land?
What do I think? It's ours. It's not worth while to argue about it. The truth always comes out and we will stay there. I am coming every day in an armoured bus, almost an hour and a half. It's worth it, that's ours and we will fight for it.
Tell us about Eli, it's a settlement isn't it? Where is it? What's near it? What's bordering it? Ramallah? Hebron? From the beginning.
I am coming from Eli settlement. Its located in Samaria not far from Nablus. We are surrounded by many (Palestinian) villages, it's very dangerous?
Are you afraid?
I am not afraid, no, there is nothing to be afraid of.
But the way there is dangerous?
The way is dangerous. There are stones, sometimes, Molotov cocktails. There is shooting, they don't spare us anything. They attack us in every possible way, they kidnap people who wait for a lift, but you have to be cautious. That's it.
Have you been attacked?
I had an attack on the bus once.
Tell me what happened?
They threw stones, a very big stone. They shot us, my father got shrapnel in his eye. Everyday there is something, something else, sometimes it's stones, sometimes rioting.
How did you feel in the attack?
How did I feel? In that situation I was scared but you can't do anything you have to continue. That's our home there.
What do you say to the Palestinians when they claim it's their territory?
They can say whatever they want. They say many things. It's proven that it's ours, the Jews. It's written in the Bible, it's written in our books, in the Bible. They can think whatever they want they know very well the truth. They like to argue not to go straight but bent (Showing it with her hands).
What do you think of the Palestinian claims?
The Palestinians think that the land belongs to them, but it belongs to us, to the Jews.
Why do you think it belongs to the Jews? Can you explain?
Why do I think it's ours? The Jews, it's written in the Bible that it belongs to us, the land, the soil. We don't just say it, we also know it. They enjoy attacking us, they want to finish us, as we say. The Palestinians, they throw stones, they want the territories , they destroy homes they kill children, everything.
So what do you like about hummus Bat El?
What the hummus? Everything, I will die for the hummus, I love the taste, I love it with bread, hummus is me. Mum will tell you, she buys it and I eat a lot from it. It has a very natural taste. It is fatty, it's dense and it's good with everything. I love it with meat, with bread. It's not boring, I feel full, I don't need to look for more food, I wipe it, come on... be more...Hummus is very filling , it goes with every kind of food in the world. When I eat it I really feel that I am full, I don't need to eat anything else after that, I like to wipe it with bread. It's the most Israeli thing in the world, and this proves that the hummus is ours.
We want to know what do you think of the Palestinians saying, that it's theirs?
I think it's the most Israeli thing in the world. It does not belong to the Arabs as they claim, it's something different, it's Israeli, and it's simply us. We have our Independence Day where we consume a big quantity of hummus, when we have a barbeque or mangal (on the fire) We eat a lot of hummus, with everything with every meal.
Do you think it's good to go out with a guy on a date and eat hummus?
I think it's really, really nice, fun and enjoyable and the most sexy thing in the world to eat hummus on a date. It's food that everyone loves, men and woman, children. Every one smears. Hummus is hummus. Boy... girl...It's very wild to go out with a guy that has it smeared on him..It's definitely not disgusting to me. On the contrary it's even beautiful. It shows that he is a real Israeli, a real man.