Sunday Routine: How Rawia Bishara, Chef and Restaurateur, Spends Her Sundays

Rawia Bishara, 63, a James Beard Award nominated chef who was born in Nazareth, Israel, is also a co-owner of the popular Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, restaurant, Tanoreen, a celebrated destination for Middle Eastern home cooking. She also has a new cookbook, which will be published in June, “Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen.” Since the restaurant is open on Sundays, the day is a mix of work and rest for Ms. Bishara, who also lives in Bay Ridge with her husband, Wafa Bishara, 73, who works in auto sales, and their dog, Zain. Their daughter, Jumana, 42, the restaurant’s co-owner, also lives in Bay Ridge. Their son, Tarek, 38, is an actor living in Los Angeles.

INTERNAL ALARM No matter the day of the week, I am up by 6:30 a.m. It doesn’t matter if I’ve gone to bed at 3 a.m., which I often do because I don’t get home from the restaurant until 11 and take some time to wind down before sleeping. I’m not much of a sleeper. Wafa is awake before me and brings me a cup of strong coffee with cream in bed.

FUR BABY While I’m drinking my coffee — I usually have two cups — I spend about an hour playing with Zain. We don’t get much quality time together, and I love cuddling him and spoiling him with new toys.

BREAKFAST BY WAFA Since I cook for a living, it’s nice to have other people cook for me once in a while. Wafa happens to be fantastic at making breakfast and will cook up a feast. We have eggs; they might be scrambled or fried and tucked inside a white roll with za’atar on top. Za’atar is a tart-tasting Middle Eastern spice, and I love it on everything. Our spread also has olives, a thick yogurt spread called labneh, cheeses like halloumi and feta and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. To drink, it’s always mint tea. It’s a hearty meal that’s a great way to start my day. After cleaning up, Wafa will watch soccer games on TV while I sit on the couch and catch up emails and drink more tea.

EXERCISE I do a 15-minute workout and have a reformer in my bedroom that stretches out all my joints. Having loose muscles and moving in the morning gives me energy for the day. When I’m done, I shower and get dressed for work.

A CHEF PREPARES Tanoreen is a three-minute drive from my house, and I get to the restaurant somewhere between 11 and 12. Sunday is one of our busiest days. Between diners in the restaurant and our catering jobs and deliveries, we feed 600 people. We have a set menu, but we also offer between five to eight specials a day, and these are what I make while my five other cooks prepare the daily dishes. My recipes are based on specialties from countries around the Middle East, but they have influences from all over the world. I recently made kibbeh, for example, from Syria. It’s a mix of lamb and cracked wheat with pomegranate molasses.

MINGLE Cooking takes me between two to three hours, and when I’m done, I spend some time circulating around the dining room. It’s nice to see familiar faces, but we always have some newcomers. These new diners tend to be curious about the food and ask a lot of questions, and I try to take the time to answer them.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY My friends are off on Sunday so they come into the restaurant to have a meal and say hello. Later in the day, when I’m more free, I’ll sit with them and possibly have a glass of wine. They feast on meze, kebabs and fish, and, at some point, Wafa also comes in for dinner. I can’t eat when I’m working, so I only chat and maybe drink.

LIGHT, LATE DINNER I head home after the restaurant closes at 10. Zain and I play some more. Then, Wafa sits with me while I eat dinner. It’s always salad, like mixed greens with grilled halloumi cheese, or a tabbouleh salad with grilled chicken. To drink, I’ll have whiskey, tequila or wine. For dessert, I have a big bowl of in-season fruit. In summer, I’ll eat cherries and lots of watermelon. We often sit in our backyard while I eat.

MIDNIGHT MOVIE Watching movies is my favorite way to relax. I curl up on the chaise longue in our family room and find a romantic comedy. Wafa has already gone to bed, but I have Mondays off because the restaurant is closed so I stay up. I fall asleep there on the chaise longue, probably around 2 or 3 a.m.

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Nonfiction: If You Want to Really Understand Bibi

By the early 1980s, after studying at M.I.T. and working as a management consultant, Netanyahu was a rising star at Israel’s Washington embassy. It was there, and later as ambassador to the United Nations, that he honed his formidable public relations skills (known as “hasbara” in Hebrew), befriending columnists, talk-show hosts and influential and wealthy Jewish and other Americans, including the real-estate entrepreneur Donald Trump. In 1988, as the first Palestinian intifada was challenging the status quo of the post-1967 occupation, he went home to join the Likud Party. The world beyond the Beltway first noticed him on CNN, donning a gas mask on air during the 1991 gulf war.

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Pfeffer is one of the smartest and most prolific of Israel’s younger generation of journalists. His work for Haaretz reflects that paper’s liberal bent, instinctively opposed to Netanyahu and much of what he represents. It is hard to imagine that this author ever voted for his subject. Bibi, obsessed by hostile “left-wing” media, complained pre-emptively that this biography would be a “cartoon.” It is not: It fleshes out a superficially familiar and invariably quotable figure with a wealth of background information and analysis that provide necessary and, of course, often highly critical context.

Yet it is also fair. In 1995, before the trauma of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination by a Jewish extremist, Netanyahu was widely accused of “incitement.” Not fair, Pfeffer concludes, explaining that Netanyahu nevertheless chose to ride the “far-right tiger.” Yasir Arafat paid Rabin’s widow a condolence call; Bibi was not welcome but he still won an election, albeit by a tiny margin, soon afterward. Another interesting observation on Pfeffer’s part is that Netanyahu is no fan of military action, tending to caution and even indecision, rejecting, for example, a ground offensive after the Israeli air campaign in the Gaza war of 2014.

Pfeffer rightly focuses on Bibi’s attitude toward the Palestinians. In his first term of office in 1996, he inherited Rabin’s landmark Oslo agreement with the P.L.O., which the Likud opposed, but still grudgingly complied with it. Back in power in 2009 after a period that encompassed the second intifada, Arafat’s death and Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, he came to appreciate how Oslo maintained Israel’s security while allowing settlements to expand as the American-led “peace process” went nowhere slowly. Netanyahu was initially seen as committed to a two-state solution while simultaneously demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. But a few years later the most he was prepared to contemplate was a “state-minus.” Rivals further to the right do not even go that far. “The only peace he has been willing to consider,” Pfeffer concludes, “is one where Israel bullies the Palestinians into submission. Until that happens, he will continue building walls.”

Netanyahu, in this view, has always seen the Palestinian issue as a diversion — a “rabbit hole” that misinformed Westerners insist on going down. Terrorism and unchanging Arab and Muslim hostility were and remain his preferred emphases. In recent years his “primary obsession” has been the danger from Iran, whose plans to acquire nuclear weapons (and break Israel’s regional monopoly on them) he says threaten a new Holocaust. Barack Obama’s support for the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement and his efforts to curb Israeli settlements meant that mutual loathing between president and prime minister was inevitable. Trump is a different and of course unfinished story. (Bibi’s aides, perhaps unsurprisingly, have begun branding unfavorable media reports as “fake news.”)

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300 Meters in Gaza: Snipers, Burning Tires and a Contested Fence

A fence that divides Israel and Gaza has become the latest flashpoint in the decades-old conflict, with Israeli soldiers unleashing lethal force against mostly unarmed Arab protesters who have been demonstrating every Friday for the past several weeks.

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A protest in Khan Younis on March 30. The photographer, Yasser Murtaja, was killed in a protest in the same location the following week. Source: Yasser Murtaja, Ain Media

The image above shows how each side is arrayed in Khan Younis, one of five demonstration sites where 35 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began nearly three weeks ago.

The protests resumed on Friday, and the Palestinians plan to keep the weekly protests going with large turnouts until May 15, when many plan to try to cross the fence en masse. The Gazans are protesting Israel’s blockade, which has been choking off the impoverished coastal strip for more than 10 years. They also want to reassert the rights of refugees and their descendants to reclaim their ancestral lands in Israel, 70 years after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced.

In Israel’s view, there is nothing benign about the Palestinian claim of a right of return. It would amount to the destruction of Israel by demographic means. And they see the protests as providing cover for violent attacks.

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The Fence

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Palestinian protesters stood in front of an Israeli tank during a protest in Khan Younis on April 3, 2018. Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

The fence that separates Gaza’s 2 million people from Israel is not the sturdiest of barriers. To penetrate Israel, a Gazan would have to get past a crude barbed-wire barrier and cross a short distance, then get over or through a 10-foot-high “smart fence” packed with sensors to detect infiltrators. If a crowd of thousands surged toward the fence, it would take about 30 seconds to cross, the contractor who built it told Bloomberg News.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we have to handle hundreds or thousands of people inside Israel,” Giora Eiland, a retired major general and former head of Israel’s National Security Council, said recently. “This is something we would not be able to contain. So the right way is to make sure nothing happens to the fence.”

That means stopping people from touching it, even with deadly force. Though the protests were initially billed as nonviolent, the Israelis say they have repeatedly discovered grenades and other explosives along the fence, and that Palestinians have sometimes thrown firebombs at their soldiers, not just rocks. Israeli forces have responded lethally.

Few Israelis believe Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules Gaza and is running the protests, is capable of peaceful protest.

The closer to the fence protesters move, the more perilous it becomes for them. The Israelis have made clear that people they believe are “instigators” are fair game to be targeted. Videos have surfaced of people being shot with their backs turned to the fence, while praying, or with nothing in their hands.

A protester gestures at Israeli soldiers. Source: Yasser Murtaja, Ain Media

The latest rules of engagement, according to one Israeli report, permit soldiers to shoot armed Palestinians within 300 yards of the fence, and unarmed people within 100 yards of it. The Israelis’ use of live ammunition has prompted demands for an investigation into possible war crimes.

Israeli snipers have positioned themselves atop large sand berms that military engineers are continually reconfiguring with tanks positioned nearby. After protesters burned tires to obscure the soldiers’ view and rolled them toward the fence, the Israelis brought in giant industrial fans to disperse the thick black smoke and powerful water cannons to douse the fires. Soldiers have fired countless volleys of tear gas to try to push back crowds of demonstrators.

The military insists that its soldiers are instructed to shoot to warn, then shoot to wound, before shooting to kill. But the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said: “Anyone who approaches the fence endangers his life.”

The Conflict Zone

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An injured Palestinian protester being carried by fellow demonstrators during clashes with Israeli security forces near the frontier with Israel, east of Khan Younis, last week. Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Some of the protesters sit, while others dart around, taunting Israeli sharpshooters. And some risk their lives by trying to get up to the fence.

Among the Palestinians, approaching the fence makes a powerful statement of defiance, bravery and national pride. A Palestinian photographer has even begun giving wounded protesters framed photos taken of them shortly before they were shot. And the Hamas political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said in a speech this week that the demonstrators had “taught the world how to be men.”

The Palestinians have much to be angry about. A collapsing economy and a worsening public health crisis along with the 11-year blockade of the tiny, jam-packed territory makes it almost impossible to leave. But the effort is billed as the Great Return March for a reason: Most Gazans are Palestinian refugees or their descendants, and marching on the fence highlights their desire to reclaim the lands and homes from which they were displaced 70 years ago in the war surrounding Israel’s creation.

The Field Hospital

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Nurses at a medical tent near the border with Israel, east of Khan Younis. Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

When a demonstrator is shot, others rush to him and quickly carry him off the field to waiting ambulances or to tents that triage and give first aid to the injured. Farthest from the fence, along a road leading to central Khan Younis, is a field hospital with doctors and enough equipment to perform procedures short of major surgery. Other medical tents are staffed mainly by volunteer nursing-school graduates.

As of Friday, 34 people had been killed, three of them under 18 years old, and more than 3,000 had been injured in the demonstrations, according to Gaza health officials. More than 1,000 have been hit by live fire; nearly 1,000 have suffered from gas inhalation; 300 from being hit by rubber bullets and eight people lost fingers or feet.

Families and Prayer

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Palestinian men praying during a tent city protest along the Israel border east of Khan Younis. Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

Entire tent villages have been set up to meet the basic needs of demonstrators, and then some. Vendors sell falafel, nuts, sweets and lemonade from ramshackle huts. Once a day or so, a delivery arrives with free slices of pizza or cakes. Large dedicated prayer areas accommodate the faithful. Gaza journalists and radio hosts occupy other tents.

The tents nearest the fence, still not safe from Israeli snipers, house young men, some of them just groups of friends, others organized for various task such as providing tires to burn.

Farther back, many Gaza clans have pitched more elaborate tents with blankets and gas stoves inside, creating the feeling of an offbeat family reunion across much of the protest grounds. At the entrance to one tent, women baked saj, a round bread, over a wood fire on Thursday to hand out to demonstrators. Another tent, with coffee and comfortable sofas inside, was reserved for religious officials.

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An aerial view of tents at Khan Younis on Wednesday. Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

The organizers have created a festival-like atmosphere, with a robust schedule of daily events: Volleyball and soccer games played by amputees, poetry readings, musical performances, even horse races. The sudden crackle of gunfire and wail of sirens are at times the only giveaways to what is happening a short distance beyond the tents to the east.

The Israeli Side

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Agricultural fields at the Nir Oz kibbutz near Gaza on the Israeli side. Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Avocados, carrots and an abundance of other crops grow along the Gaza border on the Israeli side. Hundreds of Israeli citizens live within a mortar shell’s range of Gaza territory in small communities of farmers such as Nir Oz and Kisufim. The army says its fierce defense of the fence is protecting those citizens — and stopping infiltrators from kidnapping a soldier or two — a longstanding Hamas tactic.

In the Israeli community of Nahal Oz near Gaza on April 6, a group of young people climbed an old watchtower along the community’s western edge, looking out on the disturbances as if they were sitting in the nosebleed seats at a baseball game.

Parking lots full of tanks tucked away behind berms make up only part of the military’s presence along the Gaza border. A $2 billion underground wall project is under way to prevent Hamas from digging any more tunnels into Israel used by attackers. And Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile batteries protect southern cities such as Sderot from Gaza rockets — though its sensors are so easily triggered that air-raid alarms have been set off in the area by gunfire alone.

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Front Burner: Stoudemire Takes a Shot at Kosher Wine Market

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Wines to consider for Passover Seder could include Château Lascombes 2015, and reserve Galilee 2016 and grand reserve Capernaum 2014 from Stoudemire Cellars. Credit Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times

Fill glasses at your Seder with the new Israeli kosher for Passover wines from the Stoudemire Cellars label, owned by the former basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire, and your dinner will have another reason to be different. Mr. Stoudemire, who is a member of the Hebrew Israelite community, loves Israel (he’s a frequent visitor) and red wine. He has three wines: Reserve Galilee 2016 is 100 percent cabernet sauvignon with fruit and lingering tannins ($64.95); and grand reserve Capernaum 2014, from equal parts cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot ($99.95), is more complex. Private collection 2013, a Bordeaux-style blend ($259.95), is sold out. For a Bordeaux blend, consider Château Lascombes 2015, an elegant Margaux grand cru ($109.95) that is kosher for Passover for the first time: skyviewwine.com.

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Op-Ed Contributor: The Uncomfortable Truth About Swedish Anti-Semitism

Some are answering yes. One reason is the nature of the current threat.

Historically, anti-Semitism in Sweden could mainly be attributed to right-wing extremists. While this problem persists, a study from 2013 showed that 51 percent of anti-Semitic incidents in Sweden were attributed to Muslim extremists. Only 5 percent were carried out by right-wing extremists; 25 percent were perpetrated by left-wing extremists.

Swedish politicians have no problem condemning anti-Semitism carried out by right-wingers. When neo-Nazis planned a march that would go past the Goteborg synagogue on Yom Kippur this September, for example, it stirred up outrage across the political spectrum. A court ruled that the demonstrators had to change their route.

There is, however, tremendous hesitation to speak out against hate crimes committed by members of another minority group in a country that prides itself on welcoming minorities and immigrants. In 2015, Sweden was second only to Germany in the number of Syrian refugees it welcomed. Yet the three men arrested in the Molotov cocktail attack were newly arrived immigrants, two Syrians and a Palestinian.

The fear of being accused of intolerance has paralyzed Sweden’s leaders from properly addressing deep-seated intolerance.

Some of the country’s leaders have even used Israel as a convenient boogeyman to explain violence. After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, explained radicalism among European Muslims with reference to Israel: “Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there isn’t a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

In an interview in June, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was asked whether Sweden had been naïve about the link between immigration and anti-Semitism. His response was typical of the way in which leading politicians have avoided giving straight answers about the threat against the country’s Jews: “We have a problem in Sweden with anti-Semitism, and it doesn’t matter who expresses it, it’s still as darn wrong.”

But the problem has grown so dire that it finally forced Mr. Lofven to admit in an interview this month: “We will not ignore the fact that many people have come here from the Middle East, where anti-Semitism is a widespread idea, almost part of the ideology. We must become even clearer, dare to talk more about it.”

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