08-29-08 OctoberFest in Taybeh, Palestine

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Oktoberfest in Palestine
By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D. —
During the 5th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest, 3 and 4 October 2009, the Taybeh Beer tour is surely to be popular. Amazingly, people from all over the world somehow discover Taybeh and actually visit without having been enticed by major advertisements. Taybeh Beer tours are given daily but even when the brewery is closed on Sundays, if a family member is available, the brewery is immediately opened when we see visitors outside our kitchen window since we live with the famous beer in the Middle East.

We coined the slogan, “The Best in the Middle East” since every successful company has to have a great motto. But truthfully speaking, after the Oslo Agreement (1993) we had the dream that, if the world recognised Palestine and we had freedom, we, too, could make excellent products like other countries. The message came loud and clear from the master brewer, Nadim Canaan Khoury, my brother-in-law, by his personal signature on each and every Taybeh Beer bottle reflecting the high quality and premium status of the Palestinian brew. He is proud to craft the best product made in Palestine.

Oh! Dear Lord! Palestine and Beer? Now that does not sound proverbial. To the shock of many international visitors, we too in Palestine want to be normal people, and like human beings all over the world, want to have a chance to excel in all fields. We Palestinians in Taybeh produce excellent beer, thus keeping a tradition since before the time of Christ, who in his first miracle changed water into wine at the Wedding in Cana.

Cana to Taybeh is a fairly long way whether geographically or historically, but either way we invite all to join us in Taybeh for an incredible open day called the Taybeh Oktoberfest, which has been happening every year since 2005 and has inspired festivals in other locations. As one creative way to survive under strict closure, the Oktoberfest was originally held in order to boost the economy since it’s so difficult to take Palestinian products into Jerusalem (although Israeli products flood the Palestinian supermarkets and take advantage of the lack of awareness regarding the support of local Palestinian products). Thus, Taybeh Beer, using its good name for high quality and excellence in Palestine, started to invite people to the village for a day of fun. While spending the day there, visitors actually buy honey, olive oil, and all of the natural and local products made in Taybeh. As a consequence, the ailing economy – with 50 percent unemployment – experiences a tremendous boost.

Along with the Taybeh Brewery, you can visit the factory that makes ceramic lamps, the Old Palestinian House of Parables, the Old City of Taybeh, recently renovated by Riwaq in cooperation with the Taybeh Municipality, which displays the beauty of Palestinian architecture, and the most amazing historical site of all, the fourth-century ruins of St. George Byzantine Church, now a precious archaeological site. The church was built by St. Helen, the Mother of Constantine the Great, when she built the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Dr. Maria C. Khoury, an educator and activist, has served as the Taybeh Oktoberfest organiser for the last five years, since her husband became mayor of Taybeh. She can be reached at khourymaria@hotmail.com.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania