food / travel

Palestinian-Brewed, Bavarian-Inspired Beer Is A Hit In Israel

Taybeh was also the toast of a unique Oktoberfest celebration in Ramallah.

Taybeh Oktoberfest in Ramallah
Taybeh Oktoberfest in Ramallah
Daniel Rubinstein

TAYBEH — There are many economic ties between Israel and the Palestinians, but only one Palestinian product has managed to become a famous brand in Israel: Taybeh Beer.

Though still not sold in every bar in Tel Aviv, everybody knows its name and reputation. The brewers of the Palestinian beer recently celebrated the factory's 20th anniversary, which coincided with a local incarnation of the famous Oktoberfest beer festival that takes place in Germany. Though usually celebrated in the West Bank village of Taybeh, 15 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem, this year the party was moved exceptionally to the bigger stage of Ramallah, and included shows, music and dance events.

The Taybeh brewery was founded by local brothers Nadim and Daud Khoury who brought equipment and machines from Germany. The first bottles were distributed in the summer of 1995.

It is a bit odd to discover that the successful Taybeh beer company comes originally from the Palestinian territories, since the vast majority (95%) of residents in the West Bank and Gaza are Muslims and therefore do not drink alcoholic beverages. Indeed, the Khoury brothers are part of an increasingly small minority of Christians who have stayed on in the Palestinian territories and Israel over the past few years, as more and more emigrate.

Expanding beyond beer

Some 40% of Taybeh products are sold in Israel, the rest exported to Europe and Japan — with just a small part for the local market of beer drinkers in the Palestinian territories.

The Second Intifada, which erupted in 2002, disrupted production at the brewery because it was very difficult to import the ingredients with the checkpoints blocking the transportation system.

In the years since the Intifada, production has returned to normal, and the owners of the company have decided to invest in new products. The first one was olive oil, made from the many olive groves surrounding the city. Then they turned to apple juice — a non-alcoholic beverage aimed for the Muslim population in Palestine, Israel, and neighboring countries

Still, for now, the most successful product of Taybeh is a dark lager beer, 6% alcohol, made in a traditional German Bavarian style.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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