In 2014, Etay, Ammoun, and I formed what we believe is the first ever American, Israeli and Palestinian mobile video game company in the world! Despite all of the barriers that keep millions of Israelis and Palestinians from creating relationships, we defied all of the odds, and we dreamed of creating the same types of relationships for the people closest to us. So when we sat down to think of a name for our new company, we wanted to find a word that was the same in Hebrew and Arabic.
There are many words that share the same root in Hebrew and Arabic, and many words that are easily understood across both languages. The words for “fun,” “cool,” and “let’s go” are popular within both Israeli and Palestinian communities. But when we checked, all of those words were already taken by other game companies. So we kept going down the list, and then Bandura showed up.
Now, Bandura means tomato in Arabic. It does NOT mean tomato in Hebrew. But, it ALMOST meant tomato in Hebrew. Historically, people used to call tomatoes “lust apples,” because they thought tomatoes might be poisonous. Then, when people started eating them, they called them “golden apples,” which in latin is “pomme de oro.” The Italians turned “pomme de oro” into “pomodoro,” and then as Arabic speakers started to eat tomatoes, they called them “banduras.”
As the Jewish people were reviving the Hebrew language in the 1800s a great debate ensued over what the word should be for tomato. In the end, “bandura” lost, and “agvaniyah” – which derives its origin from the hebrew word for “lust – won.
So, back to our story. Bandura accidentally shows up on this list of words in Hebrew and Arabic, and I throw it out as a possibility. Etay immediately says “Ugh! I hate Bandura!”
When we asked him why, he said, “Guys, I know this is really weird, but I have an irrational fear of tomatoes. I cannot eat, touch, or smell a tomato without getting scared and nauseous. My friends once put several kilos of tomatoes in my room, put a GoPro camera inside and closed the door. When I opened it, the tomatoes fell on me and I ran away screaming for my life!”
We laughed and realized that we have to be Bandura Games. Our whole mission is about teaching people to overcome their fears of others. If we can get Etay to work for a company called Bandura, we can get Israelis and Palestinians to play together.
Now for the coincidental twist: One of the most world-renowned psychologists to study the effect of media on overcoming your fears is named Dr. Al BANDURA!!
So in the age old debate, is it “to-may-to” or “to-mah-to,” we say: Bandura!