by Trevor Graham
A Bright Idea: A serendipitous moment?
Make Hummus Not War started in October 2008 when I read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Jerusalem correspondent Jason Koutsoukis.
Funnily enough there are lots of personal stories around this production. Jason Koutsoukis is the younger brother of a friend of mine from my high school days in Melbourne. So I was always an avid reader of Jason's regular columns reporting from the Middle East, in part because of the personal connection and also it's a part of the world I've long been interested in. It was serendipity.
I was a hummus tragic dating back to my late teens, so I started surfing hummus online and to my amazement discovered the 'Hummus War' headlines.
It was surreal, 'a war over hummus?' Go figure? It took another year and a half of researching and thinking about what to do and how I could integrate my personal story and love of hummus before I started writing a treatment.
Give me the money You Bastards!
In 2010 I approached Screen Australia's Signature Program, was successful, and granted $200,000 towards my production.
When producer Ned Lander found out that his old friend, ME, was making a film about love, sex, war, politics and chickpeas he just laughed...loudly. But he jumped on board and was instrumental in raising the final $500,000+ budget. And I was glad he did. Doing it all yourself is a lonely thankless task. Ned brought in Andy Myer of Fine Cut Films as EP. The Melbourne International Film Festival's Premier Fund joined the financing of the production as did, Screen NSW, and distributors Off the Fence in Amsterdam and Antidote Films in Brisbane Australia. They all need recognition for making this film happen outside of the usual documentary broadcaster financing system. Docos like Hummus are increasing an endangered species in Australia as both national broadcasters the ABC & SBS become increasingly ratings focussed, predictable in their commissioning and less inclined towards the 'one-off documentary'. Screen Australia's Signature Fund was a lifesaver for our film.
Thanks Screen Australia!!!
A Production of Friends
Ned and I have been friends for 40 years, since we were both in our late teens. We first worked together on a film called Red Matildas, in 1985, and then in 1986 we went to Israel together to produce and shoot, Painting The Town, about Australian-Israeli artist, Yosl Bergner.
Yosl Bergner, his Tel Aviv studio, 1986
Since then we've worked together on numerous other film projects and also at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and at SBS TV where we both commissioned documentaries, and Ned also, TV drama.
Painting The Town: Australian-Israeli artist, Yosl Bergner
I worked with other close friends on Make Hummus Not War as I desperately wanted to work with a team of people, across the production process, with whom I'd successfully collaborated with on previous occasions. I needed people I could trust with the story, including some of the personal story elements.
Jenni at work in Bethlehem Market So I called on Jenni Meaney, a fabulous cinematographer from Melbourne, to shoot the film. We have been working together for almost 20 years. This is our 5th film we've collaborated on. Jenni was a natural choice of DOP. She has travelled extensively in the Middle East and is a big fan of falafel and baklava. She's a good travelling companion, which was particularly important on this two person low budget shoot, living out of each other's pockets.
Denise Haslem with Angelita Graham &
Dennis Wanambi from Yirrkala
Editor Denise Haslem has been working on and off with me since 1994. We made the award winning, Mabo Life on an Island Man which is one of our mutual career highlights.
Eddie Mabo indicating garden boundary markers
This is our 7th film. We ate a lot of baklava whilst editing in Denise's front room. We stuck to our post schedule, but there was no pressure. If we went over a week or two it wouldn't break the budget.
Other key collaborators include my wife, Rose Hesp, who script edited the narration, Peter Walker as sound design consultant, we've done numerous films together and Tim Richter the lead animator.
I also turned to composer and rock n' roller David Bridie to compose the music. David composed the music for the award winning Mabo and worked with me on Lonely Boy Richard in 2003.
Rob WellingtonAnd then to compete the skill set, there was web designer Rob Wellington, with whom I made Homeless 6 Cities, 6 Lives in 2002, and the CD-ROM Mabo:Native Title Revolution.
In 2011, for both the research and production of, Make Hummus Not War, I spent 3 months travelling and visiting 'characters' and hummus makers in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, the UK and USA. They were tasty journeys where I ate hummus every day, sometimes several times, as people invited me into their homes or cafes to try their hummus and tell their stories. The hummus makers ended up being the stars of the movie. Without their passion and zeal there would be NO film.
Raed Taha, Abu Shukri restaurant
The research trip was a mashup in its own way. I went here there and everywhere around the globe. Here's just a taste:
Monday, 2nd May, 2011
Flew into Minneapolis to meet, Majdi Wadi from Holy Land, a hummus label in the US. It's a small hummus producing company run by a Palestinian/American family. Majdi grew up in Jordan "Back home, they would shoot me in the head for doing this to hummus," Majdi Wadi says as he shows me his 14 varieties of flavoured hummus, including artichoke-garlic and spinach. Majdi's 5 year plan is to have a turnover of $30 million for his hummus business. He says he can achieve this because Americans are increasingly liking their hummus. Majdi's hummus is a food that brings both Arab and Jewish Minnesotans to his stores. He thinks hummus brings both communities together. I scouted around Minneapolis today. Didn't find much hummus at Walmart though!
Wednesday 4th May
Debbie Schlussel Travelled to Detroit Michigan to meet Debbie Schlussel at Sara's Deli & Glatt Kosher in the Jewish Community Centre in Oak Park. Debbie is a capital 'C' Zionist conservative Detroit radio talk show host, columnist, and attorney. The fiery blond is a frequent guest on ABC's 'Politically Incorrect' with Bill Maher". As both an attorney and a frequent 'New York Post' and 'Jerusalem Post' columnist, Schlussel's commentary on radical Islam has drawn a great deal of attention across the US. Debbie and I are chalk and cheese when it comes to politics. She agrees to be interviewed for the film when I come back in October. I like the way Debbie is incredibly upfront with what she thinks as most right wingers in America are. She has a forthright sense of humour to express her views. As we leave our meeting Debbie says, "So what if Jews and Arabs like hummus? Jews and Nazis liked schnitzel in pre-war Germany".
Friday 6th May
Claudia Roden Met Claudia Roden at her home in Golders Green London. I'm a big fan of Claudia's writing and cookbooks and so I'm hoping she will agree to appear in the film. So am more than a little nervous. I arrive with my camera and want to shoot a few short pieces with her. But she's reluctant and concerned she looks tired. We talk about the history of hummus and get on extremely well. Claudia turns out to be very charming, agrees to be filmed and to be interviewed when I return in October.
She tells me about an Arab saying, "If you eat together,
you can't betray each other". It stays with me and she says it to camera.
Hotel room in Marble Arch is a depressing flea pit-a tiny, pokey little room that can hardly house me and my camera box.
Saturday 7th May
I had an extremely early start today. Was at Heathrow at 5.15am for a 7 o'clock flight to Brussels. Caught the airport shuttle to Gare de Midi for a meeting with Christiane Dabdoub Nasser at Sam's Cafe. Christiane, the author of Classic Palestinian Cooking is dynamic and charming. We only have an hour together as I have to get back to the airport for a flight to Cairo where I have an overnight stopover on my way to Beirut. I arrange with Christiane to meet her in her home town, Bethlehem, and film there and her mother Paulette making hummus. Christiane also wants me to go to the Bethlehem market and film her there shopping. All sounds great. It's a long time since I've been to Bethlehem so I'm eager to satisfy Christiane's request.
The Novotel Cairo adjacent to the airport tonight is fabulous, spacious and luxurious compared to London. Breakfast next day was an Egyptian breakfast, which included stewed ful beans, cooked like a porridge. Delicious!
Thursday 12th May
BEIRUT to TEL AVIV to JERUSALEM
Royal Jordanian RJ0402 - Dep: 08.45 Arr: 09:45 Amman
Royal Jordanian RJ0347 - Dep:11.00 Arr: 11.45 Tel Aviv
On my way from Beirut to Tel Aviv. I arrive this morning at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, but my camera case with all the gear I need for my research filming doesn't. I'm completely panicked. A near new camera and Royal Jordanian can't track it. I have one shot at this and have another 4 weeks travel ahead of me. Ned quickly arranges for delivery of another camera to my apartment in Jerusalem from a Tel Aviv production company. But this will take another day to arrive. I have my Pentax stills camera with a HD movie function so I use that the following day.
Friday 13th May
The date is ominous by superstition. But this day truly was-my first in Jerusalem. You can feel the tension in the air. Sunday is Nakba Day, a day when protesters, particularly Palestinians, in the Mideast demonstrate against the foundation of Israel, and the expulsion of Palestinians. Israeli police and soldiers in Arab East Jerusalem are on high alert today. They prevent men under 50 from attending Mosque in the Old City for Friday prayers. I still don't have my movie camera, but despite this I manage to shoot some good material with my Pentax.
ID and personal papers are checked. The police are everywhere. Nuha my Palestinian fixer is very upset and angry. I'm not stopped from entering through Damascus Gate.They don't even bat an eyelid. I keep filming and photographing. I'm not stopped though. I'm just another press guy with a camera. I was politely told to move outside a perimeter fence that was set up. I film Palestinians praying on the street outside the New Gate, those under 50 years that were prevented from going to the Al Aqsa Mosque. Some violence and skirmishes broke out that day and there was more to come on Sunday.
Saturday 14th May
My replacement camera arrives. I can finally start filming in Jerusalem. Pity I didn't have it for Friday because the material would have been so much better. But still I have captured something of the tension on the streets.
Sunday 15th May
Yehuda Litani My fixer Nuha refuses to take me to the Qalandia checkpoint dividing Jerusalem from the Palestinian Territories. She is worried for my safety. I have appointments in Jerusalem anyway with Meir Shalev and Yehuda Litania. So it's not realistic for me to go.
I'm also not here to cover the protests, but to research my story and both Meir and Yehuda are key people. It's taken months to arrange to meet them. But like a moth to the flame
Meir ShalevI am drawn to the street battles and drama and after my appointments I head down to the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. I make my way down a labyrinth like pathway through Arab houses to a street where Israeli police are charging stone-throwing Palestinian youths. It's a minor skirmish.
The real action that day is taking place at the Qalandia checkpoint that divides Jerusalem from the Palestinian Territories.
Palestinian youths protesting at Silwan East Jerusalem on the Nakba Day anniversary.
Tuesday 17th May
Got some good stuff today with some young soldiers in Hebron, a whole potential scene. They guard the check point between the Palestinian and Jewish communities.
What do you like in the local hummus?
Local hummus? From this city? The truth is that when I ate the hummus, it wasn't so... It was hot, but it's a light hummus, you can eat a lot of it. He also brought me beans.
Do you think the hummus is Israeli, Lebanese or Palestinian?
Where did it start? Palestinian it's for sure no, they don't have too much brain to invent something like that, but listen, it's definitely Arabic, something Arabic. Go to Abu Gosh investigate there, maybe it was invented here. Did you ask the Arabs of Jaffa? Did you speak to them?
Where does hummus come from?
Yes, in many cultures they eat it, I have the feeling it's more Arabic than Israeli, that's how it looks to me.
Do you think it's Lebanese?
No, not Lebanese, maybe the countries that surround us.
Thursday 19th May
Lee FishmanToday, with Lee Fishman's help I am setting up my casting couch in an Orthodox shopping mall in Jerusalem, I'll give a full report later on what one can buy in such a mall, but I am meeting 5 orthodox men, who believe hummus comes from God's land of milk and honey. If I can shoot it as a casting session I will. Hopefully fun.
Lee took me to Pinati and translated on the spot. She was cool to hang out with. And sang songs. She is a great singer.
Nuha Musleh was our Palestinian fixer with the patience of a saint
Nuha Musleh as she drove us through check point after checkpoint. An excellent translator on the spot she had the canny ability to spot and find great talent. There is fabulously good camera talent in the West Bank. Nuha introduced me to farmer Ali Salah and Sheik Suliman Burnat. They were both exceptionally good in front of camera. Thankyou Nuha! And Nuha also is a great cook of local cuisine and she fed me on many occasions - delicious Palestinian food. And she had to put up with me. Which she did well.
Jenni and Leena at the Naas factory, Beirut Leena Saidi, fixer in Beirut, introduced me to Fadi Abboud, Robert Fisk, Chef Ramzi and took me to some great hummus restaurants, landmarks of Lebanese cuisine like the Sultan Ibrahim Restaurant. She is a really well connected fixer in Beirut. Without Minister Fadi Abboud the film could not have been made. He launched the 'Hummus War'. So I am grateful to Leena for getting him on board and he was very generous with his time.
Sunday 22nd May
Satisfied Palestinians customers
King Of The Felafel, Hebron It's 5am and I am on my way to see Palestinian construction workers on their way to Jerusalem through the checkpoint with their plastic bags of hummus.
Then to film a chickpea farm and farmer who I hope is good talent in early morning light. The sky is clear.
the Salah family with grandchildren Met Ali Salah the chickpea farmer from al-Khader village. Some good material with him. But when asked about the idea of Make Hummus Not War the answer was;
"I need war to get my land back!" The material I shot with Ali is fabulous. It will make one of the best scenes in the film... AND IT EVENTUALLY DID!
Monday 23rd May
A funny thing happened on the way to Nablus.
I went to Nablus with the husband of my Palestinian fixer this morning. He knows Nablus well and is a bit of an expert on everything Nablian. Nice guy too. We had some great discussions on the way about identity, hummus and politics.
Anyway Nablus is in Area C security zone. IE you need special permission to go there and or an Israeli GPO press card which I don't have. I didn't bother applying for one after not deciding to go to Gaza. So we get to the security check point this morning and the soldier who checks the car won't let me through. Khader has a GPO card, so he is fine. But my international journalist's ID card is not enough. Khader argues the point, "He's an Australian, he has a press card let him through. I have a GPO card, so what's the difference?" Absolutely no go with the soldier. I thought we were sunk. There goes the trip to the tahina factory I'd lined up months ago. Nablus produces the best tahina in the world. But Khader keeps on insisting, so much so, that another soldier with higher rank comes over to ask what is going on. Khader explains the situation. And then to make light of it all he says, "This guy is an Australian film director, he's making a film called, Make Hummus Not War". At which point the soldiers start pissing themselves and instantly become very friendly. I ask them, "Do you like your hummus?" And they waved us through with a smile and the advice, "Well make sure you make hummus not war!" I wish I'd filmed it as it was soooooooooooo funny. I'm going to start using the title much more in the filming process, because it gets good reactions.
MAYBE THIS IS WHY I LOVE HUMMUS??????
Email to Dafna Hirsch a Tel Aviv based academic who researches hummus and who introduced me to Hummus Ashkara and provided advice.
"Beirut was probably the best hummus. Everywhere. Particularly a place called Abu Hasan, a small place. Lina and Abu Shukri in Jerusalem were great but you have probably been there. Afteem in Beitlehem very good and in Hebron I went to the King of Felafel just near the mosque in the centre of town. It was quite a scene, people come for take away in plastic bags. I'm told on Fridays that there are many 100s of people coming. I liked this place it's the workers hummus joint. They apparently also service the Hebron Jewish community via intermediaries. If I can get that story it would be wonderful. The Jewish community life in Hebron struck me as soulless, nowhere to buy fresh hummus, a couple of bad cafes, shopping from a super market only, although there was plenty of hummus options there".
A HUMMUS DIPLOMACY ANECDOTE 'LOL' 2007
In 2007, the Turkish government helped to organize secret negotiations between the Syrian and Israeli governments. An American businessman visited Syria with hopes to convince President Bashar Assad of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's "serious intentions".
Along the way, he told Assad that one of Olmert's favorite foods was hummus.
The businessman was scheduled to leave his hotel the next day at 9:00 AM. At 8:55 AM, a Syrian officer knocked on his door. He was holding a jar filled with Syrian hummus. "This is for the Israeli prime minister," he said.
The man took off from Damascus to Amman, and from there to Israel.
That afternoon, the jar was brought to the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. Olmert instructed not to subject the jar to security checks; it was a gesture of trust. Olmert, his chief of staff Yoram Turbowicz and the political adviser Shalom Turjeman-all three shared in the secret. They sat around the jar and ate heartily.
It could be said that a dark deal was devised here: hummus in exchange for the Golan. But there was no deal: Assad sent hummus, but secretly built a nuclear facility in northern Syria; Olmert ate the hummus, but secretly gave instructions to attack the facility. The strike was carried out in September.
Now there is a new government in Jerusalem, and it has not yet experienced the taste of Damascus hummus. If Assad wants to renew the negotiations, he should get the chickpeas ready.
I travelled to Bi'lin a Palestinian village on the West Bank. Bil'in has a population of 1,800. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Bil'in was occupied by Israeli forces. Since the signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995, it has been administered by the Palestinian National Authority. It is adjacent to the Israeli West Bank Wall and the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit. Much of the village land has been appropriated for the Israeli settlement.
They no longer farm chickpeas for hummus in Bi'lin because they have lost so much land.
Since January 2005, the village has been organizing weekly protests against the construction of the West Bank Barrier. The protests have attracted media attention and take the form of marches from the village to the site of the wall with the aim of halting construction and dismantling already constructed portions. Israeli forces always intervene to prevent protesters from approaching the wall,
The weekly protest against land
confiscation and the wall in
Bil'in Occupied West Bank and violence usually erupts in which both protesters and soldiers have been very seriously injured. The protestors arrive with gas masks and shout chants including "Israel is a fascist state!" Palestinian boys have been seen flinging stones at the soldiers. The weekly protests, which only last a few minutes, regularly draw international activists such as Richard Bronson and President Jimmy Carter, who come to support the Palestinian movement.
I met a Bi'lin mother, Sahha Aburahmeh, who had lost two of her children, a son and a daughter at protests at the wall. Her son Bassem was shot and in a separate incident, her daughter died as a result of tear gas. The grieving mother sees both her children as "martyrs for Palestine who have gone to paradise". She made a hummus breakfast with pita for her 3 remaining children.
Sahha Aburameh lost two of her children
in protests over land confiscations in
Bil'in Occupied West Bank
Together they are a 'normal' day to day, joking family enjoying life around a bowl of hummus, as they laughed and teased each other. I felt right at home here. There is no hummus recipe. It's what Sahha learnt from her mother.
In Bi'lin I also met Um Samara, who cooked her chickpeas in a clay pot in a wood fired oven to enhance the flavor. Um makes her hummus the traditional way with a mortar and pestle. No kitchen wiz or blender in this simple Palestinian house. Um was quite categorical, "We will never share from the same plate with the Israelis. They have taken everything. Our land, our crops, our culture and now our food. We used to farm chickpeas, we used to farm olives and everything has been impacted by the wall. We used to survive on the olive oil from the trees and the vegetables. Now we have nothing. Since Israel has confiscated our land we have gone back to poverty. I hope God will compensate us for what has happened to us".
Sheik Suleiman Yasin Burnat and his wife, Bil'in village West Ban
Bi'lin like most Palestinian villages has a mosque, and the man who runs it is Sheik Suleiman Yasin Burnat. Sheik Suleiman is a man who loves his hummus, he eats it daily and it shows on his rather rotund waistline just what a passion he has. In fact Sheik Suleiman is an ex-cook in the restaurant trade from Bethlehem. He is a very colorful character who calls local Muslims to prayer on a daily basis at the mosque, just a short walk from his modest home. And Sheik Suleiman still makes the family hummus at least once a week sometimes more; "In my view hummus is the best meal of the day, it's nutritious and I desire it because it is delicious. I eat it most days. Yesterday I ate it for dinner and I had it for breakfast. I used to specialize in my restaurant in hummus and falafel and I make the best hummus. I will make for you the best hummus in the world. Israelis are not better than anyone else in the world and one thing is for sure hummus is not Israeli".
"The Lebanese are very proud of their hummus, they like to think it is their's. But the Palestinians can claim it too. It's a proud tradition for us. Egypt also claims it".
"God mentions in the Koran food all the time." I quote the Koran, "it says 'eat and enjoy, figs and olives'. God mentioned food in relation to paradise, in paradise the food will be fantastic". I ask the Sheik, "Including hummus? Will hummus be better in paradise?" "Paradise has food that you have never dreamt or heard of". I ask him again, "So perhaps the best hummus ever?" "Paradise has things that no one can ever imagine. It will have the most beautiful women. Women that are more beautiful than the most beautiful. In paradise there are rivers of wine which people on earth are not allowed to drink".
"Bi'lin", says the Sheik, "has been suffocated by the Separation Wall. It has turned the village into a small prison. It has taken the land. Our animals can't graze, nor can the farmers farm. The wall has stopped the planting of everything, chickpeas, olives, fruits, you name it. Yes the wall has stopped the local chickpea industry".
Bi'lin is a very profitable village for story. It is a site of conflict. And just across the wall that divides these two people, on the other side, Israelis are consuming their hummus with equal passion, but on the whole from plastic tubs bought in a supermarket. Israeli settlements have few cafes. They are so concerned with security that cafe culture is a luxury they can't afford.
Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new status could serve as a model for peace between the two peoples.
"It is a great honor to be offered a passport," he said late on Saturday after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, the West Bank city where he has been active for some years in promoting contact between young Arab and Israeli musicians.
I want to know, "Does Daniel Barenboim love hummus?"
Thursday 26th May
I had a final good morning in Jerusalem. Now have a great Israeli hummus icon on board, Pinati,they have 18 franchises throughout Israel. Owner quotes the bible as proof that it is Israeli. He is from a Jewish Turkish family. Palestinian workers in kitchen and Moslem patrons eating there because the hummus is good. And most importantly Meir is great on camera and loves what we are doing. He even started quoting PM Netanyahu's speech about hummus in Washington.
He's a proud Israeli.
I wrote this email to myself from Jerusalem
I couldn't help feeling my life was one of multiple and long-term, hummus-inspired, allegiances. A Jewish girlfriend, a Syrian girlfriend, both so similar, so much in common in heritage, family background, love, taste and lust for life. It prompted bigger questions. I was not of either tribe, but which side was I on? Why do people who share the same passions and have a common ancient food custom, kill each other? How can we comprehend the most intractable and perplexing conflict of our time, Arab-Israeli, and 'process' it in human terms that we can understand? Is an acknowledgement of our common humanity, our basic need to eat and enjoy life, a starting point for peace? In a globalised world and a multicultural nation can we remain immune from the troubles of the world? These are the big questions posed by this personal and gastronomic journey from Bondi to the Middle East-the quest to Make Hummus Not War. The Beatles said, "All You Need Is Love". But perhaps all it takes is a shared plate of hummus?
Some other ideas:
Some hummus makers who are in my top 10!!!
their hummus is delicious
Soucci is a fabulous 'fouwal' place in the suburbs of Beirut. Raji the owner is a very charming man who runs the place with his cousin and has been doing so for 50 years. It's a plastic chairs and tables kind of place. Very popular. Best day to go is Sundays. They start prepping at 5:30 am. It's all over by 1:00pm. People will turn up from the surrounding district with pots to buy their hummus and ful beans.
Raji is great talent with good stories, "Wives want to come to Soucci to find out why their husbands spend so long away from home". It's very quaint, old fashioned and hasn't changed the production method since his grandfather's time. Raji started when he was 16 and followed in his grandfather's footsteps. He says he gets pleasure from watching people eating and enjoying themselves. Lebanese Jews used to come here before 1967. Will film there from start to finish. One day of schedule. The food is fabulous and all hand ground with a pestle.
Raed Taha's grandfather Yasir Mohamed Shukri, known for his hummus, was a refugee in 1948. He was the original Abu Shukri. His father was also well known for his hummus and expanded the business. After the 1967 'Six Day War' Palestinians wanted to come to Abu Shakri when they visited the mosque. After 1970s the restaurant began to be mentioned in Jerusalem tour guide books. Their recipe is unique, and Raed won't talk about it. His attitude is to welcome people as though it is to his house. Hospitality is important.
"Jews claim they own hummus. This is a lie. It cuts the Palestinian economy. It's a creation of the fertile crescent. Lebanese are Arabs like us. So I support them".
Nafas (spirit) is what makes good hummus. Cleanliness is important too. Freshness. Good lemons. This is how grandad taught the family. "I learnt from dad and I taught my children. One secret recipe I have is my father's. The process takes 12 hours from beginning to end. Israeli soldiers come to eat here. It's big joke the that Israelis have to make hummus a war too. People used to come from all over the West bank, but the Wall has stopped that. Usually Friday is good business. But too many soldiers today. Pre 1948 Dad used to sit at the same table as Jews. Israelis are not all the same. There are peace lovers and war lovers".
Abu Shukri is open from 6am till 5pm, people coming for breakfast and lunch. He doesn't like preservatives and won't put his hummus in plastic tubs.
Enjoying hummus and friends at Lina
Ghaleb's Zahdeh's father was a refugee from West Jerusalem in 1948. They have been 20 years on the Via Delorosa. Lina in Arabic means for us.
Ghaleb Zahdeh "I started because father was getting old and I wanted to help him. We open at 7am and it takes an hour before that to get ready".
Ghaleb only uses organic materials and no preservatives. Business goes well by the grace of God and by treating people well. It creates popularity. Saturday is most popular it's packed. "There is no difference between Jews and Muslims here. This is our food. They would be queuing outside. It's ours but we shouldn't have a monopoly. It doesn't disturb me that the Lebanese are claiming it. What makes good hummus is good tahina. Fresh garlic. But the person is the most important". Ghaleb doesn't take seriously the Hummus War. He uses Israeli or Turkish or Mexican chickpeas. 50-70 kilos per week. He's a patient man.
Hummus Talpiot is in the industrial suburb of Talpiot, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. I met Uri Levy who is an Iraqi Jew and owner of a busy hummus joint. Uri's customers are mainly local workers who work in industrial plants.
Uri LevyAt lunch time it's hectic here - the kitchen frenetic and noisy. We need to shoot an interview with Uri before 11am. He is an engaging character. Speaks good English. Uri think hummus belongs to the region. But the region including Jews. His hummus bar is "a workers' restaurant". "Workers come here to fill their bellies. You are hungry then you come and eat, fill up on hummus. You don't come here to talk and make conversation. You come here to grab the pita and wipe the plate. It's good. It's also healthy".
What is interesting about Hummus Talpiot is that Uri offers Glatt Kosher hummus to his customers. It's only the hummus that is Glatt, the rest of the kitchen is just plain old ordinary kosher. To be true Glatt Kosher the hummus has to be prepared only by Jewish hands. And here in lies the rub of the Hummus Talpiot story, the kitchen staff here,
Rabbi Yeheil who supervises
Glatt Kosher at Hummus Talpiotlike in most hummus joints, are all Arab Palestinians a mixture of Moslems and Christians, not exactly strictly Glatt Kosher. So to make it strictly Glatt, Rabbi Yehiel from Yeshiva Minhat Schlomo, comes to the restaurant and does a daily ritual. He lights the flame on the stove and puts the pot on the flame, so non-Jewish hands are not involved in preparing the chickpeas. Does he also stir the pot????? The Rabbi has invited us to film in his home. His family are very fond of hummus, particularly with his son. He has also invited us to film at his Yeshiva. We will film him in the kitchen at Hummus Talpiot as he undertakes his daily Glatt Kosher ritual.
Ikermawi Hummus is just near the Damascus Gate. Palestinian construction workers come as early as 5.30am to collect take away hummus in plastic tubs.
King of Falafel
King of the Felafel, Hebron
Azmi Selaymeh is the owner. Azmi sells hundreds and hundreds of take aways on Friday, he says he feeds a family for 10 shekels. Azmi says hummus is a poor man's food. But he has his rich customers too. He also goes to mosque on Fridays so this could be a good additional reason to go to Hebron on a Friday.
TWO STORIES FROM THE SHOOT
Sunday 11th September
We were flying on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It prompted a lot of bad taste jokes, "You're flying on 9/11? Not a good day to be flying". We arrived in Amman via Bangkok exhausted at 5.51am and still another Royal Jordanian 25 minute flight to get to Tel Aviv. Once you get to Amman everything is so close, a stone's throw to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was a great relief to arrive in Tel Aviv and collect all our bags and jump in a taxi to our first filming destination Jerusalem. We are staying in the East of the city, the Arab area close to the Old City. It's a delight here, the coffee and cake shops, the felafel stalls with their aroma of fresh felafel and the hustle and bustle of Palestinian life. And of course on the whole the Palestinians are extremely welcoming, hospitable people and when you tell them you're here to make a film about hummus their eyes light up with passion and the conversation takes off.
Monday 12th September
We started filming at the heart of political power in Israel, the Knesset. I had previously filmed here with an MK Anastasia Michaeli from the 'Israel is our Home' party. And I now needed some exterior shots of the Israeli parliament. We arrived to be told that no filming of the building from the forecourt could be done without permission from security which of course we didn't have. Our fixer Lee Fishman went to work, phoning all her contacts within the Knesset, from MKs to heads of security. She explained to everyone we were here, an Australian film crew making a film about hummus. On the radios transmitters of the Knesset security guards we could hear excited conversations amongst the guards, "they are making a film about hummus". Eventually we were granted access to the forecourt to get the best shots. Israeli security at the Knesset is extremely tight. Our gear was pulled apart and examined every which way and as the guards went about their job they gave us advice about where to find the best hummus in Jerusalem, Israel, the world. Some said it was in Akko, some Jaffa, some in Jerusalem. "No no, it's Nazareth". Jesus would be happy!