Palestine has a beer?? Tends to be the first reaction from most foreigners when I start bragging about the fine quality of our own Taybeh Beer. Yesterday after a long absence I decided to pay Palestine’s only micro-brewery a visit.
Once there, you get to watch a 7 minute long introductory film about how a family from the village of Taybeh (where the beer gets its name from) established the brewery after the Oslo Accords in 1995. Once the short film and beer tasting are over, you get a personal and detailed tour of the brewery by one of the family members.
Taybeh beer is based on the German Purity law, and uses the natural spring water near the village to brew their beer. What came to me as a shock yesterday was that the brewery has had no access to water in over 10 days. Water is a major problem in the West Bank, where Palestinians have access to water for only 2 days a week. Controlled by Israel and the settlers, the water from the West Bank is diverted to the Settlements built across the Territories, so that they could have water access 24/7. I recommend reading this blog post to get an idea of the water situation and infrastructure in the West Bank.
Going back to my story, it turns out that the previous summer the brewery had to adjust their brewing schedule to that of the water schedule set by the settlers. These settlers (and I counted at least two settlements near the village) have control over the water via a water valve that directs the water from the Palestinian villages to the settlements. The brewery used to receive about 2-3 days of flowing water last summer, which has turned to at least once every 10 days now! Now you may wonder why the villagers don’t adjust the water flow by turning the valve, well I asked that question, and it had been done. Yet, each time the water is diverted back to the villages, the settlers under the protection of the Israeli military redirect the water once again.
This story is typical amongst many villages and even in Palestinian cities throughout the West Bank, not only has it disrupted the access of water to many Palestinians, it is also disrupting the production of the only Palestinian beer in the world!
If you’re in the region on October 1st and 2nd, I do recommend you pay the village of Taybeh a visit and check out the Oktoberfest that’s held annually.