Israel/Palestine

Palestinian Oktoberfest

As long as we’re posting encouraging reports, here’s one from the West Bank about an Oktoberfest in the village of Taybeh– sponsored by the local brewery.

And yes, Taybeh is a Christian village, but I’m sure the festival attracted more than just Christians. And the Palestinian Authority made no effort to stop it. Imagine if someone tried to organize an event like that in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

“This is the other side of the coin,” [Taybeh mayor and brewery co-owner David] Khoury said of the two-day festival held this weekend outside his office. “It shows political freedom and democracy. It is resisting occupation by showing that we can grow the economy and build it.”

It’s hard to argue with that kind of resistance. It also happens to be one of the most powerful forms of Palestinian resistance at this point– vastly more effective than Qassam rockets or suicide bombings.

It is a theme that is being heard more often among Palestinian officials and businesspeople these days. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has issued a two-year plan to build the institutions needed for a Palestinian state and has argued that Palestinians should work toward that goal as if Israel were no longer present in the West Bank, rather than wait for an uncertain peace process to change the facts on the ground.
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The brewery was started in 1995 by David Khoury and his brother Nadim, who had returned from the United States with his head full of ideas about hops and German beer-purity laws as well as his own recipes. They almost went broke during the intifada that erupted in 2000, and while never directly challenged by Islamist groups, they feared that the enterprise would be pushed to the fringes of Palestinian society.

That has changed. The brewery now turns a profit, the beer is widely available at restaurants in the West Bank and Israel, and the Oktoberfest, now in its fifth year, is helping brand the town as a once-a-year destination.

Taybeh Beer “has caught on in Japan and been franchised for production in Germany.”

I haven’t seen it for sale here in the US, but if I do, I’ll give it a try.

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