This is the story of how my wife's new kitchen allegedly prevented peace from breaking out all over the Middle East.

We bought a house in Eli, Samaria. That's near Shiloh, the ancient capital of the Jewish nation and site of the Tabernacle for 369 years. Some people believe that Jewish communities (a.k.a. "settlements") are an obstacle to peace, and expanding them is a double obstacle to peace. Of course – some people also believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Abominable Snowman, but some people believe you're not allowed to ridicule dumb stuff that some people believe in– so I'll skip the issue.

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Our house had two tiny bedrooms and a smallish combined living room and kitchen. My wife wanted to enlarge the kitchen and add bedrooms for the married kids to come visit. We found an architect who did her stuff and a contractor who would do his stuff. Everything was agreed on by word of mouth and a cordial handshake.


The contractor informed us that we need to file our building plans with the regional council in order to get a permit to build, and that alone would cost over $2,ooo.

Now I know that some people think that the Jews in Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank) are lawless. Maybe that's because our supermarket is called the O.K. Corral and the sheriff wears a black hat and his name is Bart. But that's not true. We Jews can't make a move without legal sanction by the community council, the regional council and the state, and we certainly can't build a square foot without a permit.

Asking my contractor how long it takes to get the permit, he says about a half of year – but once you submit the plans and pay the fee you can start building. The permit usually comes by the time construction is finished.

I ask: "But what if a building inspector comes by and sees that I started building before actually receiving the permit?"

He answers: "Don't worry; everyone does it (a well-known legal argument)! Besides – building inspectors come around only once in a blue moon!"

So the expansion of our house begins. I check to see the status of peace in the Middle East… and indeed ISIS and the Syrian civil war are still going strong, probably because of my wife's kitchen… With all that going on, we didn't notice the blue moon in the sky…

"We have a problem" the contractor informs me. A building inspector came, checking that the housing plans on my street fit the actual houses. He discovers construction on a house that doesn't have a building permit and calls to the workers, who are all Arabs. Even though they know enough Hebrew to get by – when "the law" comes they play dumb, as if they don't know Hebrew. I have friends who try that: when a cop pulls them over to give them a ticket, they stammer in heavily-accented Hebrew, claiming to be new to the country. The inspector asks: "Who's in charge?" They're willing to admit understanding that and point out the sub-contractor. The sub-contractor is also an Arab – but he's fluent in several languages, including Hebrew. So he comes over and says there's a contractor above him. My contractor comes by and we're slapped with a no-building order.

"What now?" I ask the contractor.

"We stop for two days and then resume building… inspectors are like lightening: they don't strike twice!"

Only ours did. So the construction work stopped for two months, which added to the costs – all for the sake of law and order. In reality – I'm happy there's law and order. We all are... until it comes to our own pockets!

Finally after close to a year our additions to the house were completed and we moved in. My wife's new kitchen (which she richly deserves) represents an expansion of a Jewish house in Samaria (a.k.a. West Bank) which of course is an alleged obstacle to peace. But in reality it was willingly and peaceably built by Arabs living under the Palestinian Authority, and it was lawfully sanctioned with a very expensive building permit of the Benjamin regional council where we live.

You're all invited for peace coffee and a piece of cake!

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