KHOURY: Christian town struggles to survive in MidEast turmoil, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 11, 2008

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Taybeh Oktobefest Boosts Economy

Maria C. Khoury — The only all Christian village left in Palestine continues to seek creative ways to survive.  After battling with complete closure since 2000, collapsed economy and over 50% unemployment, the Taybeh Brewing Company suggested a strange celebration never known to Palestine.  Leaders in making history since the brewery was founded in 1995 as the only micro brewed beer in the Middle East, Taybeh Beer became the first Palestinian product to be franchised and produced in Germany under the Taybeh license.

Nadim Khoury initiated a dream come true by talking all the local civic organizations into having the Taybeh Oktoberfest in 1995 when his brother became the first democratically elected mayor of the town.  The last three years the tiny Christian village has seen three successful village festivals that boost the economy where all four of the local women cooperatives sell more items during the festival than the whole year. 

The theme of the festival is support for local products and it has received amazing international media coverage with thousands of people attending in support of Taybeh products including Taybeh beer, olive oil, honey, ceramic lamps, candles, olive woods and embroidery.  

 

The Mayor of Taybeh, David C. Khoury, on behalf of the local municipality has announced that Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12, 2008 will be the 4th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest with the opening celebration at 11:00 am Oct 11th at the Taybeh Municipality.  This peaceful event gives hope to the local community for its future survival since the Christian presence and investment in the village is considered a peaceful resistance. 

 

The Taybeh Oktoberfest is also announced to encourage people who have travel plans to include Taybeh on their list of places to visit since Taybeh  (near Ramallah) known as Biblical Ephraim is noted as one of the most ancient places in Palestine going back five thousand years before Christ came into the village before His crucifixion (John 11:54).

Directions to Taybeh on www.taybehmunicipality.org

 

The Oktoberfest in Taybeh was such a great success that it truly reflects the democracy and diversity in Palestine.  The Taybeh Brewing Company serves as the main organizer of the festival in cooperation with the Taybeh Municipality, four women’s organizations, local parishes, Olive Branch Foundation, Taybeh Scouts, and the Society of Christian Heritage in the Holy Land establishing a new tradition in Palestine to support local products and hoping that other towns can emulate an effort to support and celebrate specific products throughout Palestine creating a positive nationalist feeling.  

Also, the most magnificent site in Taybeh is the Byzantine ruins of St. George Greek Orthodox Church now a national protected archeological site; and the stone school newly renovated by RIWAQ in their efforts to preserve architectural heritage in Palestine. 

Thus, with this rich Christian presence and roots, the local residents hope to share their cultural heritage with others this fall season during the 2008 Taybeh Oktoberfest, Oct 11 and 12.

(Maria Khoury is a writer based in Taybeh, Palestine and the wife of Taybeh Mayor David Khoury.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com