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Restaurant Plans Kosher Menu For Israeli Tourists

May 29, 1995

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ First came peace, then Israeli tourists, then the idea for a kosher restaurant _ run by a Palestinian whose family lost its home when Israel was created in 1948.

But for Khalid Mohammed Ali, catering to Israelis in the heart of an Arab capital has nothing to do with politics.

It’s all about business.

Israel and Jordan signed a treaty in October, ending a 46-year state of war and opening the door to economic ties. Little has gotten off the ground, though the two have talked about ambitious projects like an amusement park on the Dead Sea.

But thousands of Israelis have flocked to Jordan, many to see the spectacular temples and tombs hewn out of cliffs in Petra or the biblical sites in Madaba, south of the capital Amman.

Jordanian tour operators and hoteliers have complained that many Israelis must bring in their own food to ensure their meals don’t violate Jewish dietary laws.

Ali, whose family fled a village that now is part of Israel before he was born, said he was approached last week by an Israeli company to begin serving a kosher menu for Jewish tourists.

The change in menu will offer the 29-year-old restaurateur a chance to save his failing Istanbul restaurant, which opened March 15 and now serves mainly Lebanese dishes. He’ll begin offering a kosher menu on Thursday _ the first in Amman.

``I am not a politician to discuss war and peace,″ Ali said at his restaurant, a block away from the Israeli Embassy in the heart of the capital.

``I am a businessman looking after saving my restaurant which has been doing really bad since it opened,″ he said, puffing a water pipe under a tent in the restaurant’s garden.

The Israeli company, SAZ International, will provide the appliances and kosher food, and the two plan to split profits. A rabbi will travel from Israel to Jordan three times a month to supervise the food’s preparation, Ali said.

``Canned food and milk will vanish from the restaurant because everything should be fresh in Jewish dietary laws, but all my Jordanian customers can still enjoy the shish kabab and the Lebanese mezza,″ traditional dishes that can be cooked according to kosher guidelines, he said.

Ali’s chef, Jamil Hassan Al-Awadi, also a Palestinian, said his one regret about the new menu is having to quit serving mansaf, a Jordanian dish of rice, meat and yogurt _ non-kosher since it mixes milk with meat.

``I will miss it a lot,″ he said.

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