the Disillusioned kid: Raise Your Glasses
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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Raise Your Glasses

A slightly different story (via) to those we are used to hearing from the Palestinian Territories:
With its arm-wrestling contest for the under 16s, the brisk trade in embroidered cushion covers and home-made pastries made by the local equivalent of the Women's Institute, a boy scout parade, and the chance to drink draught lager in the afternoon sunshine, Taybeh's festival had more than a passing resemblance to an English country fete.

Yet the more than 5,000 visitors were enjoying the first-ever Palestinian beer festival, in the heart of the occupied West Bank. Even the few setbacks were familiar; the Palestinian National Theatre troupe failed to turn up on the second day because of artistic issues with the noisiness of the child-packed hall they had played the previous afternoon. "If you mention this please say how grateful we are to them for coming at all," said the October Fest co-ordinator Maria Khoury. "They performed for free and we'll find a quieter venue for them next time."
The festival is sponsored by the Taybeh Brewing Company who in 1994 established Palestine's first - and only - brewery. While the Israeli occupation, the Islamic prohibition of alcohol and the opinions of fundamentalist groups has ensured that growth has been difficult, the company are currently developing a non-alcoholic beer for the Muslim market. You can buy Taybeh Beer in select stores in the UK thanks to these nice people who donate a portion of the proceeds to Medical Aid for Palestinians and Yesh-Gvul. Sounds like my kind of solidarity!

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