Prominent Arab cuisine restaurants, which are usually very popular with Israeli Jews, suffered a devastating blow in the past month after costumers stopped visiting in light of the IDF's offensive in Gaza and rising tensions between Jews and Arabs within the country.
"During the war we recorded a 80-90% drop in the number of Jews who came here to dine," said Dokhol Safadi, chef and owner of the mythical Diana restaurant in Nazareth. "I can understand them," he added, "unfortunately it wasn't very pleasant for them to come here during this time. Even now, after the war has ended, we have about half the amount of costumers we were used to."
Better days: Standing in line for Ali Caravan's hummus place (Photo: Yehonatan Zur)
The Gaza operation, coupled with the financial recession, forced Safadi to close down his restaurant this week, although a new and more lavish branch of Diana in the city remains open.
"It's important for me to tell the Jews that they have nothing to fear. We embrace everyone, Jews and Arabs. nothing g here has changed – this is still the same old Nazareth," he concluded.
'It's not our fault there are wars'Another well-liked spot for Mideastern gourmet, Elbabor, located at the entrance to Umm al-Fahm in Wadi Ara, has also felt the war's painful effect on business. In the first 10 days of the war the situation was very bad – nearly a complete boycott, said owner Husam Abbas. However, this Saturday things showed a slight improvement, with drop in the number of visitors reaching only 30%.
Arab-owned shops and restaurants in Jaffa have been standing virtually empty since the fighting in Gaza began, Ayini Kathtat, a waiter at the famous hummus hub Ali Caravan, said that many regular customers have simply stopped coming, and that some passersby taut and even curse the workers.
"Is it my fault that there are wars? I live here like everyone else. We all just want to earn a decent living. People need to understand that living together is the only option, force will get us nowhere.
"For some reason, whenever there are security problems Jaffa is being boycotted… I don't get it, what did we do to hurt you? It's a shame because at the end we all lose," he added.