Eating Hummus without Talking Politics?
Abu Hasan is probably the most famous hummus place in Israel. It’s definitly the best hummus in Tel Aviv area. Jerusalem has better ones, but that’s a different story. The original Abu Hasan place (he has two other places nearby, but everyone agrees its not the same) is a tiny joint in Dolfin St. - one of the most romantic streets in Jaffa - between a Maronite church and the old Jaffa Jewish cemetary.
Abu Hasan has the best hummus in Tel Aviv (actually you should try the m'sabaha - spicy hummus with whole chickpees), and as Hani Qaravan, the grandson of Abu Hasan and the current manager, says: when you are hungry - you don't care about politics. So in Abu Hasan you can find yourself sitting between a Jewish couple, Arab family and a group of happy tourists. No politics.
But Dolfin street, and the neighbourhood - it is in Ajami - is transforming rapidly. It is the only area in Jaffa that wasn't destroyed by the Israelis after the 1948 war (other than Old Jaffa, which was turned into a kitsch disneyland for tourists), and the remaining Arab population of Jaffa found refuge there. For decades it was a very poor and neglected area - by the sea but seperated from it by a mountain of construction waste.
Now the mountain of waste is gone, replaced by a beautiful promenade, and the area is going through a process of urban gentrification. But in Jaffa it's a special type of gentrification - national gentrification. Poor and mostly Arab population is being pushed out by the market forces (and a little more), and rich and mostly Jewish population is buying their beautiful houses by the sea.
Hani Qaravan doesn't want to discuss politics, and he's right - it's bad for business. His family, who lived in the neighbourhood for generations, built with the hummus money one of those huge-rich-orientalistic styled houses nearby. But his tiny joint will lose some of it's authenticity when surrounded only by million-dolar-houses. And the local Arab population, who eats in his place and is half of the equation that makes it a place of peace, won't eat there - because they won't be local anymore.
So hurry up and eat the best hummus in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, before it's gone.