“More Than Just Hummus: A Gay Jew Discovers Israel in Arabic” by Matt Adler— The Unseen Israel

Adler, Matt. “More Than Just Hummus: A Gay Jew Discovers Israel in Arabic”, Matt Adler, 2020.

The Unseen Israel

Amos Lassen

Israel is one of those places where no one seems to have anything neutral to say about. The truth is that although Israel is a tiny country, there are vast differences throughout the country. In “More Than Just Hummus: A Gay Jew Discovers Israel in Arabic”, writer Matt Adler becomes our guide Jewish guide to the country but he uses Arabic to explain some of the lesser seen parts of the country. I lived in Israel for many years and for before the time that gays were (at least in Tel Aviv) recognized as equal citizens and before Tel Aviv Pride became a gay destination. It was a time when people did not openly speak of their sexuality. Adler shows how much it has all changed. He shares his gay identity with a questioning teenager, hitchhikes on golf carts in a rural Druze village, and celebrates Shabbat and he does so in Arabic and with humor and compassion as he visits Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze communities. We are taken into contradictions and intricacies of one of the most diverse places in the world.

While I was in Israel (and it was for many years), I worked with both Arab Israelis and Druze Israelis but I would never have considered discussing that I was gay with them. We had come together to build a city in the Golan Heights and while we spent days and nights together as well as lots of free time, the topic never came up so I was anxious to read how Adler dealt with the situation. For me, there are few lesser known places in Israel— I took it as my responsibility to get to know the country’s every nook and cranny so I spent a lot of time exploring. Adler shares his stories with an open mind and we sense his identification with the characters he writes about. The writing is fine and many will find it enlightening. When Adler writes about food, we can almost taste it.

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