Food truck to promote Mideast peace

kosher halal truckAn Egyptian- American  , author of several books  and  holder of a PHD  degree in Mechanical Engineering is trying to use a food truck to promote peace in the Middle east between Arabs and Jews because he thinks if they can reconcile their falafel differences, they can make peace “.

“I’m choosing falafel because both Israelis and Arabs claim it’s their native food,” Soliman said. “Maybe if they can reconcile their falafel differences, they can make peace.”

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Washington post Article printed Jan.26, 2013

Moustafa M. Soliman, a 76-year-old Egyptian American author and activist, wants to spread the message of attainable peace between Arabs and Jews with a food truck that serves kosher eats from one window and halal treats from another.

“All aboard the vehicle to peace!” said Soliman one recent morning at a Manassas warehouse. He was there to inspect his new truck, which has both the Star of David and the Islamic symbol of the crescent moon painted on the side.

Washington is a magnet for offbeat activists, but even by this city’s standards, Soliman’s strategy may seem eccentric.

So forget the muddy public spaces of Occupy D.C. and what may be the country’s longest-running anti-nuclear peace vigil by protesters-in-residence in Lafayette Square — soon Soliman’s food truck will be parked at colleges, mosques, synagogues and churches in and around the nation’s capital.

Soliman, a novelist and retired Energy Department staffer, hopes that if the Washington truck is successful it will help fund at least five more trucks in cities such as Chicago and New York, along with trucks in Israel and the West Bank.

“It’s just one spark,” said Soliman, whose round face was freshly shaved above his green pullover sweater. “Hopefully it will bring people from different backgrounds, who are waiting on line, to talk together.”

an arab a jew a truckHe retired after 25 years managing the U.S. government’s often problematic energy collaborations with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia. If that sounds like real work, hard work, headache-inducing work, that’s because it was. “Deals would fall apart,” he said.

This time around, he’s opting for a far more direct approach.

“It’s this really clever way to get Arabs and Jews to take a sort of communion together,” said Libby Traubman, co-founder of the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue, which tries to facilitate interaction between Arabs and Jews. “It think it will work because, well, everyone likes food.”

The idea for the food truck was derived from Soliman’s recently published novel, “An Arab, a Jew and a Truck.” The book tells the story of a devout Palestinian Muslim and an American Orthodox Jew who are forced by circumstance to live together and share a kosher kitchen in the Bronx. They end up starting a moving business together, and by the book’s end are dreaming of launching a kosher and halal food truck.

If it all sounds like the plot of a TV sitcom, Soliman doesn’t mind.

“I have spent years and had numerous meetings trying to get energy projects to work with Israeli and Arab officials, then a government minister leaves or Hamas fires a rocket or Israel launches an attack and the whole thing becomes hostage to who’s in power,” he said. “When political structures are shaky, it’s the grass roots that can really make a difference. I started to think, let’s literally take it to the streets.”

Washington has plenty of activists, but a lot of them wear suits and walk the halls of Congress. People like Soliman are known by freedom-of-speech advocates as “protest innovators,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group that is taking the case of Rives Miller Grogan, who climbed a tree on the Mall to declaim against abortion on Inauguration Day.

“It’s kooky and quirky, but it’s also really promising and a neat sign,” Whitehead said. “We are living during a time when ordinary Americans feel like they aren’t being heard, so what’s happening is, people are frustrated, they come to Washington and find ways to get attention.”

Soliman has a PhD in mechanical engineering, perhaps not surprisingly from the University of California at Berkeley. He remembers fierce debates over Israel and Palestine when he was a graduate student there in the early 1960s.

“Each side stubbornly stuck to his or her rigid position,” he said. “Those debates disturbed me because they left me feeling that there was an endemic hatred between Arabs and Jews, while ignoring the fact that Arab societies historically included Muslims, Christians and Jews.”

Raised in Cairo, Soliman has happy memories of his Jewish neighbors coming over for weekly card games with his parents. “I was always really haunted by how polarized and hostile things became” in later years, he said.

He started to write his novel in 1977, inspired by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Israel, which launched peace negotiations between the two countries. But he put the book aside to work and raise a family, finishing his writing only recently.

“Sadly, all these years later, the issues were the same,” said Soliman, who added that his wife is Christian and his son married a woman who is half Jewish. “I am someone who really believes that people can move past politics,” he said.

Some Washington activists who also happen to be entrepreneurs think Soliman’s timing is perfect. Nick Vilelle, 33, is one of the founders of Cause, which calls itself a “philanthropub” and opened three months ago in the U Street corridor. All the restaurant’s profits go to a rotating list of causes.

“It’s the sort of thing, that, if it’s going to work anywhere, it’s Washington, because we have this socially aware population and this nonprofit population and everybody is young and wants to go out,” said Vilelle, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Africa.

Soliman, he said, is an example “of someone willing to push the envelope and re-imagine activism.”

So what will the food truck serve?

“I’m choosing falafel because both Israelis and Arabs claim it’s their native food,” Soliman said. “Maybe if they can reconcile their falafel differences, they can make peace,” he said and added with a laugh, “Somebody can call Larry David! This really does sound like a sitcom.”

  • Prophettttt

    What a clever Egyptian!!!! I Tip my hat for this man .
    Both Arab and Jews claim Palestine is their native land,and both claim that Falafel is their native food!!!!
    But,we all know the truth; Palestine is for Native Palestinians including the Jews and the Christians, but it is not A native land for Israelis because there is not such a thing,at least ,not in Palestine. As for the Falafel,it is a very Egyptian native food;Food of the poor,and it is not the native food for Jews,and never was.
    They stole a whole country and then claimed that God gave it to them, They stole Falafel from Egyptians and claimed it is their native food. Neither the differences over Falafel will be settles,nor will the differences over land.
    I could see how the debate about Falafel will go. At least,throwing Falafel at each is not deadly,but it can be costly if many Jews and Arab get involved in this debate,and the only winner in this case will the Genius Egyptian who thought this scheme very well,and his anticipation of funding five more trucks is well within reach,and all under a “Non-Prophet Organization”.lol.The debate will go on,He thought,so why not make money pretending to solve this conflict.
    If I could think of way to make money over the debate of which came first,the Chicken or the Egg, Maybe, I could claim that my scheme tops the scheme designed by this sharp man,lol

    • breakthemould

      If this is OK: Sorry for the diversion from Falafel. But you reminded me of this:

      A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is smoking a cigarette

      with a satisfied smile on its face and the egg is frowning and looking a

      bit pissed off. The egg mutters, to no-one in particular, “Well, I guess we

      answered THAT question!”

      • Prophettttt

        LOL , I like your sense of humor, even though you took a shot at me,but no worries,I have a thick skin,and some humor too.
        I do wish this man success despite the debate about his intentions,lol

      • breakthemould

        I forgot you are from the other side!

        • 5thDrawer

          Far Side Of The Moon … ;-) … actually.
          Oh … thought you meant me … :-))

        • Prophettttt

          I don’t know what side you’re on,but I know I’m on the right side.!!

          • breakthemould

            You asked what side is that. I meant if there is need to explain, those who don’t eat pork and have their kids circumcised but do not face Mecca when praying. Is that sufficient info?

          • Prophettttt

            I didn’t realize that you’re the type that would always consider “side” to mean religion or sect.However, Now that you know exactly what “side” I’m on, I could careless what “side” you’re on,and I disrespect those on my “side” or any “side” who think like you because I don’t judge people based on which “side” or which way they pray.

      • 5thDrawer

        An oldie, but a goodie. :-)

    • 5thDrawer

      Good business beats war any day, right Prophet?? ;-) (hmmm … or is that now Profit ?? :-)
      Fava beans are healthy also. :-))

      • Prophettttt

        LOL, Finally we have a debate that has nothing to do with election laws, sectarianism and all.lol

        • 5thDrawer

          I saw a documentary/movie named ‘Falafel Wars’. Quite good actually. It’s made now in MOST countries.

          • 5thDrawer

            Dedicated to Prophettttt ;-)
            ‘Ode to the Bean’

            An Egyptian found favas a mouthful.
            Now we say this about the falafel:
            You can stuff them with Rice,
            Pork, Chicken, or Lice,
            But simply can’t make them taste awful.

            Falafel was deemed better than bread.
            The best thing to stuff in your head.
            Chop the salade just right,
            Add a spice to your night,
            And you won’t find the crumbs in the bed.

            Over 3 millennia they found fava with lasses.
            Word carried through all mountain passes.
            Now You could stuff in a turd
            And There wouldn’t be a Word
            Falafel, like religion, suits the masses.
            – 5thDrawer -

          • Prophettttt

            5th, Thank you, I’m honored, lol.
            I finally found people who worship Falafel religiously:

            Oh, Falafel, what is there to not like about you?
            Falafel, you are the king of food…

            You taste great with hummus,

            and you will never leave us.

            Oh Falafel, Oh how I love you……

            Oh how I adore you….

            I would be lost without you……

            You are wonderful…..

            You taste wonderful…..

            You are so delightful that I will eat you tomorrow….

  • Prophettttt

    What a clever Egyptian!!!! I Tip my hat for this man for his idea.
    Both Arab and Jews claim Palestine is their native land,and both claim that Falafel is their native food!!!!
    But,we all know the truth; Palestine is for Native Palestinians including the Jews and the Christians But it is not for the native land for Israelis. As for the Falafel it is THE EGYPTIAN NATIVE FOOD,Food of the poor.and it is not the native food for Jews.They stole a whole country and then claimed that God gave it to them, They stole Falafel from Egyptians and claimed it is their native food. Neither the differences over Falafel will be settles,nor will the differences over land.
    I could see how the debate about Falafel will go. At least,throwing Falafel at each is not deadly,but it can be costly if many Jews and Arab get involved in this debate,and the only winner in this case will the Genius Egyptian who thought this scheme very well,and his anticipation of funding five more trucks is well within reach. I would not be surprised if this clever Egyptian didn’t already establish a non-prophet cooperation for this business,So that all of his permits are easily issued,and no taxes would be paid .lol
    If I could think of way to make money over the debate of who came first,the chicken or the Egg, I would then claim that my scheme tops the scheme designed by this sharp man,lol

    • breakthemould

      If this is OK: Sorry for the diversion from Falafel. But you reminded me of this:

      A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is smoking a cigarette

      with a satisfied smile on its face and the egg is frowning and looking a

      bit pissed off. The egg mutters, to no-one in particular, “Well, I guess we

      answered THAT question!”

      • Prophettttt

        LOL , I like your sense of humor, even though you took a shot at me,but no worries,I have a thick skin,and some humor too.
        I do wish this man success despite the debate about his intentions,lol

      • breakthemould

        I forgot you are from the other side!

        • 5thDrawer

          Far Side Of The Moon … ;-) … actually.

        • Prophettttt

          What side is that?

          • breakthemould

            You asked what side is that. I meant if there is need to explain, those who don’t eat pork and have their kids circumcised but do not face Mecca when praying. Is that sufficient info?

          • Prophettttt

            I didn’t realize that you’re the type that would always consider “side” to mean religion or sect.However, Now that you know exactly what “side” I’m on, I could careless what “side” you’re on,and I disrespect those on my “side” or any “side” who think like you because I don’t judge people based on which “side” or which way they pray.

      • 5thDrawer

        An oldie, but a goodie. :-)

    • 5thDrawer

      Good business beats war any day, right Prophet?? ;-) (hmmm … or is that now Profit ?? :-)
      Fava beans are healthy also. :-))

      • Prophettttt

        LOL, Finally we have a debate that has nothing to do with election laws, sectarianism and all.lol

        • 5thDrawer

          I saw a documentary/movie named ‘Falafel Wars’. Quite good actually. It’s made now in MOST countries.

          • 5thDrawer

            Dedicated to Prophettttt ;-)
            ‘Ode to the Bean’

            An Egyptian found favas a mouthful.
            Now we say this about the falafel:
            You can stuff them with Rice,
            Pork, Chicken, or Lice,
            But simply can’t make them taste awful.

            Falafel was deemed better than bread.
            The best thing to stuff in your head.
            Chop the salade just right,
            Add a spice to your night,
            And you won’t find the crumbs in the bed.

            Over 3 millennia they found fava with lasses.
            Word carried through all mountain passes.
            Now You could stuff in a turd
            And There wouldn’t be a Word
            Falafel, like religion, suits the masses.
            – 5th Drawer -

          • Prophettttt

            5th, Thank you, I’m honored, lol.
            I finally found people who worship Falafel religiously:

            Oh, Falafel, what is there to not like about you?
            Falafel, you are the king of food…

            You taste great with hummus,

            and you will never leave us.

            Oh Falafel, Oh how I love you……

            Oh how I adore you….

            I would be lost without you……

            You are wonderful…..

            You taste wonderful…..

            You are so delightful that I will eat you tomorrow….

  • Patience2

    And where does Knafe fit into this picture??

    • Prophettttt

      Knafe is originated in Palestine. The word Knafe is usually followed by Nabulsiyeh as in Knafe Nabulsiyeh to indicate the city of its origin.Israelis stole Palestine,They claimed Falafel from the egyptians, they stole Hummus from lebanese,So no surprise if they claim knafe too

      • Patience2

        It has quite a past … I learned to love knafe in Zouk Mosbeh without ever knowing it’s international character … except that it was favoured in Israel, too.

      • 5thDrawer

        All true Prophet, as noted in Wikipedia (Kanafeh) … but we don’t need to say ‘stole’ do we? ‘Shared’ might be better … although that documentary ‘Falafel Wars’ has some Greeks claiming to make the best ones, in America, no less. Hahahahhahaha

        • Prophettttt

          5th,No compromise,and No sugarcoating here.Stealing is exactly what it means; taking what does not belong to you without permission and with no intention of returning it.. Sharing is to enjoy/use something jointly,and I love sharing .
          Last time I was in a restaurant,in west village, on Macdougal street, I left my table without ordering,when I read “Israeli Hummus” on the menu.Had it said plain “Hummus” , I would have stayed,and agreed to share. We were 5 people,and I explained- loud enough for others to hear- to the waiter and to the manager, why we were not going eat there,and that we prefer either plain “Hummus” or “Lebanese Hummus”,lol .

          Call me suborn , call me whatever you want,but I won’t spend a penny on any “Israeli Hummus”.I tend to favor originality and authenticity….

          • 5thDrawer

            Ah yes … a purist. I do understand – have made ‘statements’ myself on occasion.
            (now where’s that Glenfiddich… a real Scotch)
            A ‘fine restaurant’ should not be among the ignorant masses. :-)

          • Prophettttt

            LOL, Very Authentic,lol
            We do tease our Greek friends when we order “Turkish coffee” at their fine cafe, And We make sure to order “Arabic coffee” at Turkish restaurants too.lol
            It’s fun…

          • 5thDrawer

            Speaking of coffee … the wikipedia on it is very interesting … might be the reason for some ancient religious animosity … amazing. And I thought the scotch was a devil drink. :-)))

  • Patience2

    And where does Knafe fit into this picture??

    • Prophettttt

      Knafe is originated in Palestine. The word Knafe is usually followed by Nabulsiyeh as in Knafe Nabulsiyeh to indicate the city of its origin.Israelis stole Palestine,They claimed Falafel from the egyptians, they stole Hummus from lebanese,So no surprise if they claim knafe too

      • Patience2

        It has quite a past … I learned to love it in Zouk Mosbeh without ever knowing it’s international character … except that it was favoured in Israel, too.

      • 5thDrawer

        All true Prophet, as noted in Wikipedia (Kanafeh) … but we don’t need to say ‘stole’ do we? ‘Shared’ might be better … although that documentary ‘Falafel Wars’ has some Greeks claiming to make the best ones, in America, no less. Hahahahhahaha

        • Prophettttt

          5th,No compromise,and No sugarcoating here.Stealing is exactly what it means; taking what does not belong to you without permission and with no intention of returning it.. Sharing is to enjoy/use something jointly,and I love sharing .
          Last time I was in a restaurant,in west village, on Macdougal street, I left the my table without ordering,when I read “Israeli Hummus” on the menu.Had it said plain “Hummus” , I would have stayed,and agreed to share. We were 5 people,and I explained- loud enough for others to hear- to the waiter and to the manager, why we were not going eat there,and that we prefer either plain “Hummus” or “Lebanese Hummus”,lol .

          Call me suborn , call me whatever you want,but I won’t spend a penny on any “Israeli Hummus”.I prefer originality and authenticity….

          • 5thDrawer

            Ah yes … a purist. I do understand – have made ‘statements’ myself on occasion.
            (now where’s that Glenfiddich… a real Scotch)

          • Prophettttt

            LOL, Very Authentic,lol

          • 5thDrawer

            Speaking of coffee … the wikipedia on it is very interesting … might be the reason for some ancient religious animosity … amazing. And I thought the scotch was a devil drink. :-)))

  • IraniAngel

    oh man, i dont like falafel

    • 5thDrawer

      How about scotch?

      • IraniAngel

        god yes :) but scotch is extremely expensive in irAngel

  • IraniAngel

    oh man, i dont like falafel

    • 5thDrawer

      How about scotch?

      • IraniAngel

        god yes :) but scotch is extremely expensive in irAngel