Beer and Freedom
NOW here's a question for you, readers, as we move from the pious promises of peace at Annapolis towards the season of peace and goodwill, wishing good cheer to all men and women, and good beer to all as wants it.
The United States wants a Two State Solution in Israel-Palestine, right? That's what we heard after the Oslo conference and that handshake on the White House lawn, and though we have watched its prospects shrink along with Palestinian lands as they are swallowed by Israel's wall and settlements, Two States is still on the agenda. Mr. Olmert says so.
So if the United States wants Palestinians to succeed in constructing their own state alongside Israel, how come the US authorities, just like any lumpen Zionists, insist there is no such country as Palestine? Where are they going to offer a homeland to the Palestinians, in Madagascar maybe?
A while back when things were looking optimistic for Yasser Arafat to lead his people to freedom a Palestinian family called Khoury returned home from the United States, bringing with them the business they had started as a hobby, and founding their own brewery.
Despite the difficulties of continuing Israeli occupation, and deprivations, and the rise within Palestinian society of political forces who tie national identity to a religion that's against alcohol, the Khoury brewery at Taybeh has succeeded in producing a beer of which Palestine can be proud.
What's more they have exported it. Taybeh beer is now being brewed in Germany under licence, and it being sold as far afield as Japan. It may be the problems imposed at home which made overseas production necessary, but bearing in mind the German regulations which lay down what you can put in a bottle and sell as beer, this success there is a tribute to the Taybeh beer's wholesome natural ingredients and quality.
As for pleasing the discerning consumer, I have tasted the future, and it works.
Someone wisely arranged for a quantity of Taybeh beer to be available at a Jews for Justice for Palestinians social and cultural event in north London a while back and I've been singing its praises ever since. Mind you, I've only sampled the pale, or blond, beer but I see from the publicity they do a dark beer as well. They are even prepared to brew an alcohol-free version to cater for the religious teetotallers.
Trading in alcoholic beverages may not be as easy for amateurs as selling Palestinian olive oil, but it's good to find ways of giving Palestinian exports a boost rather than confining ourselves to arguments about boycotts. Today I was invited to join a Facebook group of Taybeh fans, and did not hesitate, and I have also signed up a few friends.
There is one country where you can't get Taybeh beer though, and if you haven't guessed it's the place where the idea was born, yes. The Land of the Free will not allow its beer drinkers to enjoy the Palestinian beer, because the authorities object to the Brewed in Palestine label, insisting there is no such country as Palestine.
Maybe someone should defy this Prohibition and start smuggling in Taybeh like the rum-runners of yesteryear. Or will it have to wait till Palestine gets a New Deal? Incidentally, I'd be interested to hear whether Taybeh beer can be sold in Israel. I can see it competing successfully with the Israeli product, giving pleasure to some of my friends and relations, and displeasing the multinational s who have moved in on that market.
I've often scoffed at the worn tradition of British brewers and pub owners telling us their industry is all about our freedom and patriotism. But I think the Khoury family really do have a point, when they hold up their excellent beer as a symbol and earnest of the new Palestine struggling against oppression, to take its rightful place among the nations, as a free people building a modern secular state encompassing diversity.
So put away your stereotypes, step beyond the Israel boycott, and raise your glasses to all those Palestinians who are determined to gain the same freedoms as we all want. Cheers!
And here's the movie: