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Israeli Restaurants Serve Syrian Cuisine to Raise Funds for Refugees

A group of Israeli restaurateurs have begun a two-week campaign to serve Syrian foods and use the proceeds to help Syrian refugees, Haaretz reported (Hebrew link) Tuesday.

During the Kitchen Without Borders program, which started Monday and lasts through the end of January, more than thirty participating restaurants, cafes, and diners across Israel are serving dishes based on Syrian cuisine and earmarking the earnings for charity.

“We see what is happening there next to us and how it’s sad,” chef and restaurant owner Yair Yosefi explained. Instead of “looking at the side and saying how awful it is and moving on, we wanted to contribute and raise awareness of the situation. It’s going on right across the border, this inconceivable disaster. So we thought of an initiative beyond a single restaurant, to do something on a larger and wider scale.”

After the restaurateurs  decided to help, it was necessary to find a charity whose funds would actually go to help Syrians in need. (UNICEF was eliminated because its activities in Syria are controlled by the Bashar al-Assad regime.) A fund called Karam (Arabic for “generous”) was instead selected.

“This isn’t a political project, it’s a humanitarian one,” wrote Haaretz food critic Ronit Vered. “It’s based on the fact that every person is a person. … It is our obligation to help. Beyond that, if the help is coming through food, that is part of our shared geographic space, then so much the better, it’s one more thing to unite us.”

More information on the program can be found at the Kitchens Without Borders Facebook page.

This is the latest example of Israeli assistance for victims of Syria’s civil war.

Over 2,500 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals since 2013, even though the two countries have been in a state of war since 1948. Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai documented one of the risky missions the IDF undertook to rescue an injured Syrian fighter in 2015. Pregnant women sometimes travel to the border in order to deliver their babies in Israel, and Israeli doctors have treated young Syrian patients with cutting-edge procedures that allowed them to walk again.

An Israeli crowdfunding campaign raised nearly $350,000 for Syrian refugees last month.

Last year, Aboud Dandachi, a refugee from Syria now living in Turkey, expressed his gratitude to “true friends” of Syrians, especially Israel and Jewish organizations, in an article for Tablet Magazine. Dandachi also maintains a website called Thank You Am Israel, which was created “in appreciation of the assistance given to Syrian refugees by Israeli and Jewish organizations and individuals.”

[Photo: מטבח ללא גבולות /Facebook ]