Make Hummus Not Walls

Yesterday was a heavy day, both fascinating and eye opening. We caught a taxi from our hotel in Tel Aviv to go to Bethlehem. We were dropped off outside checkpoint 300 to cross the border between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Our Israeli taxi driver is not allowed into Bethlehem and our Palestinian tour guide has restrictions on when and where he can move. In order to meet Hazem, we had to walk through a passage into Bethlehem for our private tour.

Most tours of Bethlehem focus only on the Biblical history. Our tour would provide some of that, but we were going to get a real life history lesson of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and see things through the lense of a local.

Our tour started at the Walled Off Hotel where we had coffee with Hazem. He provided some history of Palestine past and present. We toured the ornate hotel which also housed a museum. It was mixed media about the Palestinian occupation through their voices. I took a quick look at the art gallery which held a nice collection from local Palestinian artists.

The hotel was named the Walled Off Hotel because it is located next to the border wall. It is adorned with political graffiti.

Hazem walked us around to see a refugee camp. With no rights, the community lacks resources including access to food and water. This was all very sad but important to see.

It was time for lunch and Hazem said he would be taking us to the best place for hummus in the entire world! He wasn’t sure it was still open because he explained that most people eat it for breakfast and there was a chance they could have run out of hummus and closed. I was definitely curious because I didn’t think the place I had gone to get hummus in Tel Aviv was that great. The restaurant was called Bazaza and it was luckily still open!

There were two types of hummus, one which had extra tahini. We also got falafel and black tea with sugar and lemon. The hummus was really good and I could not disagree with Hazem that it’s the best hummus in the world! The falafel though was the star for me. They were light and crispy and temperature hot. I think I ate 6 of them.

Once we finished lunch we were headed to the old City of Bethlehem where we would spend some time at the Church of the Nativity, the alleged spot where Jesus was born.

We were taken to the roof of an olive wood factory to see panoramic views of Bethlehem.

The last stop was Shepherds Field which is said to be the location where the angels appeared to the shepherds to witness the birth of Jesus.

I am glad I was able to participate in this tour with Hazem. I learned a lot and got a glimpse of a community of oppressed people.

We were taken back to Tel Aviv by taxi. Once we got back, my friend and I really wanted to a have a drink, actually we each ordered two drinks and some French fries to soak it up.

In lieu of a real dinner, we agreed ice cream was definitely in order.