There is bread and salt between us
Sharing bread and salt is an ancient custom, prevalent in the Middle East as well as parts of Europe. The act of eating together signifies a welcoming between two sides, expressing gratitude, friendship, and trust.
On 20 August 2022, UNIFIL Peacekeepers and the community of Tibnin town shared “bread and salt” between them at the Tibnin Cultural Day in south Lebanon.
The event was organized to bring peacekeepers and the local population together to share food, exhibit handicrafts, provide entertainment for children, and above all, spend time together.
French, Irish, Italian, Malaysian, Polish, and South Korean peacekeepers of UNIFIL’s Sector West joined a large crowd of Lebanese to celebrate the cultural day by cooking for each other. The Italians offered pizza and spaghetti, the Malaysians assam laksa, a typical Malaysian soup, the French prepared crepes and fruit drinks and the Irish presented chocolate cake for dessert. From the Lebanese side came well known dishes such as kibbeh, fatoush, tabouleh and other delicacies.
“Knowing each other, even exchanging our cultures as in today's event, participating in events all together we can be sure of building many lasting things”, was how Sector West Commander Brig Gen Giuseppe Bentoncello captured the essence of the event.
The mayor of Tibnin, Mr. Nabil Assad Fawaz, added that the community is “very grateful to UNIFIL for everything it has done for the south of Lebanon for a long time. Only by working together will we be able to achieve lasting peace”.
The Tibnin cultural day was not just about breaking bread together, it was, as its title suggests, about sharing each other’s cultures. Having conversations, being curious and asking questions allows for much to be discovered for the Lebanese as well as UNIFIL’s contingents.
One interesting piece of history that was discussed and explored in detail was the link between the Phoenicians and the Sicilians. The current Italian battalion, the Aosta Brigade, hails from Sicily and according to history the Phoenicians had colonized Sicily and many other parts of the Mediterranean during the first half of the first millennium BC. Did olive oil arrive in Italy by way of the Phoenicians? This and many other cultural links, similarities and differences were discussed between the UNIFIL peacekeepers and the Lebanese host community.