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Middle East Peace, One Kitchen at a Time

This is how things could be in the new year. The population of the country, Jews and Arabs, will live in peace and tolerance, work the land together and sit and share meals in the shade of the grapevine and the fig tree. Men and women will fall in love and start families without being concerned about the boundaries of language and religion.

In the kitchen, they will cook together, using the fruits of the orchard and the herbs that grow on the mountainside. They will drink the wine harvested in the vineyards and on weekends and holidays will open their homes and serve the produce of the good land to the visitors and vacationers who come en masse.

That’s how things can be. I know, because that’s what I already saw with my own eyes when I visited the Majda restaurant. It is situated in the village of Ein Rafa outside Jerusalem, where Michal Baranes and Yakub Barhum built their blue house up on the hill. It’s also where, four years ago, they opened a restaurant on the ground floor of the house, which is surrounded by an orchard.

Michal is Jewish, born in a Tripolitan home in Netanya; Yakub is Muslim, the youngest of 10 children of the Barhum family from Ein Rafa. Everything else about their story is exactly like that of any young couple who fall in love and decide to live together.


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