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Over a Pint

May 15, 2009

Day7-2

Friday, 12:47 pm local time

Brew.

We just met the first female Palestinian beer brewer.

The village of Taybeh (pronounced TIE-bay) is located about thirty minutes inside the West Bank from the nearest checkpoint, and it is home to the first (and only) Palestinian microbrewery. Back in 1993, right after the Oslo Accords, the Khoury family – actually cousins to Samir, our guide – started the brewing company bearing the label of their hometown. They export four types of beer to Israel, Tokyo, and Germany, as well as selling inside of the occupied territories, and business is doing well.

Madees Khoury is the daughter of the chief brewer of Taybeh and has been learning the family trade for the last two years. She was educated in Boston – majoring in business, of course, she laughs – and moved back to Palestine to help out. She is articulate, intelligent, and genuinely seems to enjoy what she does. She led us around the small brewery and explained the process to us.

It’s immediately clear when you walk into the warehouse that this brewery prides itself on being Palestinian. This is not militant pride; there are no pictures of Mahmoud Abbas, Yassir Arafat, or any of the Hamas leadership on the walls. In fact, the walls are adorned much like an American business: a calendar, a picture of the founder, some posters (including one that says, “Drink Palestinian”), and even a picture of Jesus – these brewers are Christian. And yet, this is clearly not Israeli, or even Arab – Taybeh brewery is Palestinian, and the quiet pride they exhibit is something to behold.

As Palestinian as they are, though, the brewery is still clearly dependent on the outside world. They import their hops and grain from Europe, and much of their market lies across the wall in Israel. Madees tells us of the trouble they have exporting because getting their products through the checkpoints takes forever; a journey that takes about 30 minutes as the crow flies takes at least twelve hours in a Palestinian truck. Still, though, Madees says this with only a twinge of annoyance, not anger – an obstacle to be overcome, not an enemy to fight. To her, Palestine is already a reality – everyone else just needs to get on board.

Maybe if we could get some Madees and Elias with some Israelis over a pint of Taybeh’s best…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jeremy Hutton permalink
    May 16, 2009 9:12 pm

    Ryan,

    If you get this message in time, please have Samir pass along my compliments to his cousins: Taybeh is THE BEST beer in Israel—far better than Gold Star, and more flavorful than Maccabee. I remember it with fondness from my time there.

    Also, a point for the class, if biblical minutia ever come into play: Taybeh of Benjamin is the renamed biblical Ephron/Ephraim of 2 Sam 13:23, where Absalom had Amnon murdered. Not a “good” place for the Davidic dynasty. I hope you all are enjoying your experience.

    Blessings.

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