Oktoberfest in Palestine
For two days (this year October 3-4), Taybeh is host to Palestine’s Oktoberfest — a celebration of Palestinian music, culture, and…well, beer. Taybeh is a Christian village in the West Bank, 35 kms north of Jerusalem and home to the now international Taybeh Brewery.
The Taybeh Brewery was founded in 1994 by Nadim Khoury, who first began brewing his own suds in the late ’70s while studying at Boston’s Hellenic College. Besides the region’s Jewish-Arab conflict, Mr. Khoury also had to contend with the fact that 95% of his potential customers were Muslim, a faith that prohibits alcohol consumption.
Obviously, the quality speaks for itself. Today, Taybeh beer is brewed under license in Germany (it conforms to the purity law 1516) for the European market. In Japan, the brew has a loyal following and you can even find it in Jerusalem on tap at some bars.
This year’s Okotoberfest is the fifth annual event and one that brings together Israelis and Palestinians as well as international tourists. Tens of thousands partake in the festival, where you can eat local foods and buy products like olive oil, honey, and cakes as well as crafts made by local artisans.
If you’re in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv at the time, you can organize a tour to Taybeh for both days of the festival. Complimentary tours of the brewery are also given. Call ahead if you’re in a large group (02-289-8868).
For some reading on this conflicted region, check out Waging Peace: Israeli Mother and Palestinian Soldier Unite and Bullets and Backpackers: Political Tourism Hits the West Bank.
If you’re more keen on the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich, make sure you read A First Timer’s Guide to Oktoberfest.