Can hummus, the savory staple of Middle Eastern cuisine, serve as a bridge between Israelis and Palestinians online? People around the world are hoping it can, and they’re posting selfies with the chick-pea dip on social media, pleading for an end to the war in Gaza that has killed more than 1880 Palestinians and 67 Israeli soldiers and civilians.
There has been much heated debate (paywall) over who can claim ownership of the Levantine dip, but there’s no denying that Israelis and Palestinians both love the stuff. Hoping to build on that common bond, a group of British Jews has launched a campaign called ‘ChickPeace,’ encouraging people to take photos of themselves with hummus. The hope is that this will promote peaceful dialogue on social media, instead of hate-speech. The campaign comes a couple weeks after students in France launched the “The Hummus Initiative,” (link in French) which seeks to underline commonalities between the two groups instead of what separates them. The “Hummus Initiative” has garnered 4,359 likes on Facebook and is gathering similar hummus selfies.
This isn’t the first time hummus has been suggested as a common denominator that can be a basis—or at least an opening—for dialogue. It has been pointed out that foodies on both sides of the hostilities cross boundaries and meet to share their love of the dip. A 2013 documentary, “Make Hummus Not War,” explored the idea of hummus as the food of peace. But hummus has also been invoked in the cause of one side against the other: consider “Hummus Not Hamas,” which claims to “share love and unity in support of Israel, peace and happiness.” It has a vibrant Twitter presence, and a Facebook page with 263 likes.