How One Israeli Hair Salon Brings Jews And Arabs Together

Iris Zaki's new documentary, "Women In Sink," goes behind the scenes at an unlikely bastion of coexistence.

Jews and Arabs live largely segregated in Israel, but you wouldn't know it spending an afternoon at Fifi's hair salon in Haifa. 

The salon is the subject of a new documentary, "Women in Sink," by Israeli filmmaker Iris Zaki, who captured an unlikely place where cultures come together in harmony. The New York Times featured a clip on Tuesday called "The Shampoo Summit," adapted from Zaki's documentary, with commentary from the filmmaker.

"I had initially set out to make a film about Israeli Arabs, a community which I believe is treated unequally in this country," Zaki wrote. "I never expected that to do that, I would find myself in a hair salon of all places."

Owned by two Christian Arab women and frequented by Jewish and Arab women alike, Fifi's stood out to Zaki as a bastion of coexistence in a place where different groups often remain insular.

"My hometown, Haifa, in Israel, is very proud of its legacy of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs. But I think it is more divided than it can seem. For example, as a Jew I don’t remember ever chatting with my Arab neighbors growing up," she said.

But Fifi's is different. To go behind the scenes, Zaki got a job washing hair at the salon and filmed herself chatting in Hebrew with the women of varied faiths and backgrounds who filed through her chair.

Many of the women bemoaned the distrust and antagonism that exists between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

"Let me tell you," one woman told Zaki, "if women were running things here, including the politics, we would have lived in peace with our neighbors ages ago."

Check out the clip from "Women in Sink" above.



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