Filet mignon menu brightens fearsome West Bank wall

Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:36am EDT
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By Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters Life!) - It might be a while before some future U.S. president prevails on Israel to "tear down this wall," so Palestinian restaurateur Joseph Hazboon printed his menu on it waterproof colors.

When Israel ran a towering concrete "security barrier" past the window of the Hazboon family's Bethlehem property a few years ago, it seemed liked the kiss of death commercially.

But Hazboon, 35, hit on the idea of transforming what was now a highly undesirable location into a lucrative attraction.

He renamed the place "The Wall Lounge" and, judging by the results, the setting is surprisingly popular with tourists.

It seems to give them a satisfying taste of the political realities of the modern Holy Land, in addition to the religious antiquity they come to experience in the town of Bethlehem, which is revered by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus.

"The idea just came to me, like a vision," said Hazboon as he busily served lunch to a roomful of mostly foreign customers.

Hazboon has 15 years in the restaurant business. He said he had pondered leaving Bethlehem for the United States, where his mother lives, but decided instead to give the Wall Lounge a go.

Clients interviewed this week clearly appreciate it.   Continued...