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Taste the Revolution:

Oktoberfest in Taybeh, Palestine

By Eileen Fleming

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, September 13, 2010


 
It has been written that 2,000 years ago, a Palestinian Jew named Jesus began a public social justice ministry which challenged the status quo of The Temple and Roman Occupying Forces, by turning water into wine to keep a party going. 
 
In 21st century Palestine the beverage of choice is beer from Taybeh, the last remaining self-sufficient Christian West Bank village. 
 
In 1947, 20% of the total population of the land we call Holy was Christian, but the Christian Exodus has reduced their numbers to less that 1.3% of the total in 2010.
 
Researchers predict that unless things change very soon, Holy Land Churches will be nothing more than museums for there will be no Christian community in the Holy Land.
 
The reasons why the most well educated and consistently nonviolent members of that society are fleeing in droves include the 42 years of ongoing occupation and oppression that has resulted in lack of economic opportunities, The Wall which divides Palestinians from their land, resources, families and holy sites and the increasing sense of hopelessness that fuels militancy and fundamentalism within all three branches of Father Abraham's offspring's.
 
Palestinians have taught me that they laugh at the worst tragedies, or else they would be crying all the time.
 
Palestinian Christian Maria Khoury, writes from Taybeh: where they produce Holy Land olive oil and beer, but 50% of the people of Taybeh are unemployed. It is Maria Khouryís faith that sustains her sense of humor and fuels her love for her homeland and people.
 
Maria is organizing the 6th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest, as a means to demonstrate peaceful resistance and non-violent actions. She emailed me the following invitation to the world.
 
 
 
Dr. Maria Khoury at St. George Church
www.saintgeorgetaybeh.org

 
Godís Humor in Promoting Taybeh
 
By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.
 
I am sitting in the middle of the wilderness and most of the days I am sincerely happy that the whole world is willing to come to me.  I clearly have nothing to do with this fame since my brother-in-law, Nadim Khoury, worked extraordinarily hard since the early 90ís to make one of the best products that exist in Palestine.  People from all of the world want to come and see how we make this great micro brewed beer, the only micro brew beer in the whole Middle East, Taybeh Beer.   
 
Most times I am thinking we are absolutely crazy to stay in the highest mountain region of Palestine especially when we have all of the illegal Israeli settlements closing in on Taybeh and preparing   a greater Israel.  Sometimes,  no electricity and other times, no running water and once in a while a few army invasions. But, there is something amazing happening here in Biblical Judea where Judea is ending and Samaria begins.  With Godís help we are still making the Finest Beer in the Middle East and feel this is our peaceful resistance.
 
On one level it is seriously God expressing his humor in somehow making it possible for a minority Christian family to exist among 98% Muslim population packaging a product that the majority are forbidden to drink by the Koran. 
 
And what is interesting about God is that He has granted much strength and blessings to survive harsh conditions of occupation, closure of roads and economic daily obstacles along with all of the other usual checkpoint problems. Recently the Israeli occupation policies are making us go three hours out of the way to  a designated commercial checkpoint  with a scanner in order to deliver Taybeh Beer to Jerusalem which is technically only twenty-five minutes away from the brewery.  Talk about a way to put you out of business since gas on this side of the world is approximately  four times higher than you might know. 
 
So day by day we are beginning to  feel we are a terrible threat to Israel.  We focus and concentrate on creating an excellent product in Palestine so people could select Palestinian products and help keep Palestinians at work and this is a whole different threat to Israel since they like to keep the Palestinian market flooded with Israeli products whether they are beer, ice cream, milk or chips. 
 
 
Palestinian people suffer from lack of patriotism and they are very divided in their opinions so supporting local  products is not high on their priorities. However, in the last fifteen years of making premium quality beer we have made some accomplishments in conquering the market share and we do our best to promote pride in Palestine.
 
 
I am thinking that God has humor since He is somehow allowing through the making of  beer to bring awareness to the small Christian community in Palestine.  People come from all corners of the world to get a Taybeh Beer tour and at the end they realize our village has been Christian for two thousand years since Christís visit. 
 
We are the only all-Christian village that is left in  Palestine.  How sad?  Where have the rest of the Christians gone?  I guess to better places like the USA, Australia, Europe, South America and anywhere that they can give a better life to their children. 
 
Thus, we have people come for the beer and they leave with a message of love.  The message is simple but so hard to implement.  Love thy neighbor and Love thy enemy is the bottom line. 
 
Or at least people understand that we simply want to have the freedom to be who we are and to make beer for beer lovers since freedom, justice and peace allow for all religions, all people, all colors and ethnic groups to co-exist. 
 
 
For the last six years we have gathered more Christians, Muslims and Jews for the annual Taybeh Oktoberfest than any conference in our region. 
 
Taybeh has reflected peaceful resistance by making extraordinary efforts to do simple things like celebrate life. Living in an environment of not knowing what will happen day to day, the success of the festival is that it simply takes place and its peaceful.  If  we are blessed  as in the past maybe more than ten thousand people will attend.
 
 
Taybeh Oktoberfest has become one of the distinctive festivals in Palestine and people travel from Brazil, Japan, Europe to perform and express their solidarity. We have made huge efforts to put Taybeh on the map since Israel is doing a great job to wipe us off.  We want to inspire people to travel to the Holy Land and see with their own eyes what is happening.  If you think that Palestinians are not practicing non-violent action please know that millions of us are trying every day to do ordinary things like work, go to school and have a party and we view this as non violent action to the awful conditions we experience under occupation. Come and support our local products or please pray for peace and be with us in spirit, Oct 2 & 3, 2010, 11 am to 10 pm,  in Taybeh, Ramallah, Palestine, The Holy Land.
 
When you visit Taybeh you will also understand Godís humor.
 
Come Taste the Revolution!
 
Taybeh Oktoberfest, Sat &  Sun, Oct 2 & 3, 2010, 11 am to 10 pm.
 
Dr. Maria C. Khoury
Oktoberfest Organizer
 
 www.taybehmunicipality.org 




Eileen Fleming, Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
Staff Member of Salem-news.com
A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com and Dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/
Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010
http://www.youtube.com/user/eileenfleming 


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