Hummus from Damascus
By Nahum Barnea
In February 2007, the secret negotiations between Israel and Syria began under the auspices of the Turkish government.
Shortly afterwards, a North American businessman visited Damascus. He was invited to a long meeting with Bashar Assad. Ehud Olmert's name arose in the conversation. The American tried to convince Assad that Olmert's intentions were serious. Along the way, he told Assad that one of Olmert's favorite foods was hummus.
The businessman was scheduled to leave his hotel the next day at 9:00 AM. At 8:55 AM, a Syrian officer knocked on his door. He was holding a jar filled with Syrian hummus.
"This is for the Israeli prime minister," he said. Hummus
The man took off from Damascus to Amman, and from there to Israel.
That afternoon, the jar was brought to the prime minister's office in Jerusalem. Olmert instructed [staff] not to subject the jar to security checks; it was a gesture of trust.
Olmert, his chief of staff Yoram Turbowicz and the political adviser Shalom Turjeman -- all three shared in the secret. They sat around the jar and ate heartily.
It could be said that a dark deal was devised here: hummus in exchange for the Golan. But there was no deal: Assad sent hummus, but secretly built a nuclear facility in northern Syria; Olmert ate the hummus, but secretly gave instructions to attack the facility. The strike was carried out in September.
Now there is a new government in Jerusalem, and it has not yet experienced the taste of Damascus hummus.
If Assad wants to renew the negotiations, he should get the chickpeas ready.