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Published on November 11th, 2013 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Palestinian council taxes festival spirit

A beer festival in a Palestinian West Bank village may seem an unlikely event in the world beer calendar but it has been running successfully – and gaining in reputation – since 2005.

However, last month’s Taybeh Beer Festival was forced to relocate from the tiny Christian village that is home to Palestine’s only brewery to the grounds of a five-star hotel in Ramallah. Some said it was akin to moving Glastonbury to the London Hilton.

The annual festival was launched as part of a drive by the Khoury family to encourage people to come to Taybeh, “to drink a glass of beer, buy a jar of local honey or a bottle of olive oil, eat falafel and listen to music – and to see that we are normal people, thirsty for life and freedom, and we deserve to live like people in the rest of the world,” said Taybeh Brewery founder David Khoury.

But growing tensions between him and a newly installed village council attempting to curb his company’s domination of the community have disturbed the tranquility of the picturesque ancient village.

Khoury has been shot at and his car torched. The council demanded he paid a fee of 300,000 shekels (£52,000) plus half the income from beer sales in order to hold the festival in the municipality’s buildings and grounds. After attempts to negotiate a compromise, Khoury decided to relocate the festival to the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah.

 

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Alastair Gilmour



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