Arab Resident of Jerusalem Ensures Jews Can Have Their Hummus and Eat It, Too

Jamal Halasa of Jerusalem wants to make sure Jews can get their Old City hummus fix, even when they’re scared to go out.

Hummus Ziad (Little Abu Shukri) in East Jerusalem.
Rotem Maimon

Jerusalem resident Jamal Halasa is seeking to fill an unmet need in the city: Bringing hummus from the Old City to all those who crave it, but are afraid to go and get it themselves due to the tense political situation.

Every Saturday, the electrician offers his services as a deliveryman, bringing hummus from the famed restaurants of the Old City and the Muslim Quarter to all who call to order. Pickup is from the Jaffa Gate. 

While he takes a small commission for his services, he claims that he’s not doing it for the money.

“Money doesn’t interest me. I know that Israelis love hummus but now everyone is afraid to enter the city. Even I’m afraid to enter sometimes,” says the Arab Jerusalemite. “But more than that, I want to help.”

The story starts with the current wave of terror attacks. Before then, Halasa and a Jewish Israeli friend, Eyal, would eat together at the famed Lina hummus restaurant in the Old City. But Eyal stopped coming due to the security situation, instead asking Halasa to pick up hummus and knaffeh pastries for him. 

Halasa says he’s motivated by goodwill; hummus is one of the central symbols in the complex relationship between Jews and Arabs. It’s a symbol of the conflict: the focus of numerous fights over food ownership, arguments over whose hummus is best, and who invented it - is it mentioned in the Bible or not? It’s also a symbol for coexistence and coming together - hummus restaurants such as Abu Hassan in Jaffa, or Lina and Abu Shukri in Jerusalem, are all examples of places where Arabs and Jews come together on a day-to-day basis. 

Jerusalem, a city of conflict from the beginning of time, has known difficult eras. At a time when people are afraid to go outside due to the violence, businesses - including bars, restaurants and falafel stands - suffer, as well as public morale.

“People aren’t coming to Jerusalem, and Jerusalemites aren’t going outside,” says Halasa. Hummus restaurants, those symbols of hope, are empty.

Halasa wants to fight the loss of hope.

“I’m not telling people to stop being scared, but I hope they’ll be a little less fearful,” he says. “Not everyone is bad, just like not everyone is good.”

His hummus deliveries offer a new point of coexistence - the Jaffa gate, a location more comfortable for Jewish Israelis than the Muslim Quarter.  Yet another small step toward living together, by means of hummus.

Transporter, hummus deliveries from Jerusalem’s Old City. Every Saturday starting at 9:30 A.M. Pickup from the Jaffa Gate. Prices range between 10-20 shekels. Jamal: 054-793-1447