Palestinian nationalism and making a great beer have gone hand in hand for the Khoury family since they built the first Palestinian microbrewery in 1994. And since 2005, they have organized an Oktoberfest to celebrate both.
“The festival opened a new window on the world for us,” said David Khoury, mayor of Taybeh. “There’s a sense and feeling of promoting democracy, of bringing normality to Palestine, peaceful resistance to occupation where we enhance the living standards by improving the economy in the village of Taybeh.”
Taybeh is a small Christian village of about 1,500 people, located near Ramallah in the West Bank, which was placed on the international map as the home of the first and only Palestinian beer.
Brothers Nadim and David Khoury started the Taybeh Brewing Company with their late father, Canaan, shortly after the Oslo accords, with the dream of investing in their land and the hope for an independent Palestine.
“Palestinians have lost their nationalistic feeling about drinking or consuming their own country products,” said Nadim, the master Brewer of Taybeh Brewing Company. “Now if you go to a bar or a restaurant or a hotel in Palestine- proudly they’re serving Taybeh beer. That means we brought back their own nationalistic feeling, and this is how the state of Palestine can be created and can be built.”
Though some say the Oslo agreements are dead, the Khourys have continued brewing their all-natural, handcrafted, boutique beer, with the goals of boosting Palestinian economy as well as changing the image of Palestinians worldwide.
Despite the checkpoints and the separation wall, the Taybeh Oktoberfest makes it easy to forget about the challenges that come with conflict. The festival gathers visitors from all over, uniting not only Palestinians and Israelis, but tourists from across the world make their way to the small West Bank village.
The Khourys are setting a model for coexistence by bringing people together over the a-political, social lubricant of beer.