Your guide to the top 5 mixed parties in Israel and Palestine!

- by Alex Jones -

1. Anna Loulou (Jaffa)

What a tragedy! After nearly a decade of service to those who believe in peaceful acceptance of the other, Anna Loulou management recently announced they will be forced to close due to issues around noise and crowd management. The boisterous groups who drink and smoke outside most nights of the week were great for building atmosphere but apparently not so popular with the increasingly gentrified neighbours! Owned by a diverse group of partners in old Jaffa, what Anna Loulou lacks in size it makes up for in energy. They celebrate a wide variety of musical styles and host great regular nights like Arabs Do It Better, All That Jazz and Latina Palestina. They have always explicitly tried to appeal to a crowd of mixed ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, though the ever-larger groups of kids on Birthright trips are a far cry from the underground early days. They reject terms like coexistence and instead focus on diversity of experience. You have just 3 weeks left to experience this place in its original home but rumour has it they will be reopening again soon in a new venue. Keep your eyes on this blog as we will be happy to do some late-night research on your behalf whenever the new venue opens!

2. Kabareet (Haifa)

As much as Tel Aviv is the region’s nightlife capital, nowhere can compete with Haifa’s Arabic and mixed parties. It is the one city where you will regularly see Arab and Jew on the same dance floor thinking nothing of it. Of a long list of great options, Kabareet stands out as our top pick. This is the national focal point of Palestinian electronic music and the fabulously run-down building covered in old movie posters is a hipster’s delight. With public transportation running seven days a week and less political attention on it than bigger cities like Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, the relaxed atmosphere at Kabareet and across the city’s venues make this a special place. Coffeeshop Rai, café Masada and Elika art bar are all worth a mention too.

3. Baladna (Jish)

This place is a real hidden gem. Jish is a mixed Muslim and Maronite Christian village in the Galilee, sitting in the foothills of Mount Meron. It is a beautiful place to visit in any season, but the atmosphere, food and drink on offer at Baladna would be reason enough to come no matter how it looked! This beautiful Ottoman-era building is bristling with character, serves modern versions of classic, local dishes and often has live music. The bar staff are generous with the drinks and you are very likely to find both local Arabs and Jews enjoying this place together any evening you visit.

4. Snow Bar (Ramallah)

Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch, considering that Snow Bar is in the middle of Ramallah, itself in the middle of Area A (an area Israelis are prohibited from entering under loose IDF regulations). But there a tonnes of internationals here, and more and more young, left-wing Jews from Israel are letting their curiosity get the better of them and choosing to visit the West Bank too. Places like Snow Bar are a good reason to come. This place has a pool, big outdoor seating area, serves good food and great drinks at half the price they would be served across the Green Line. Ramallah is often compared to Tel Aviv because - relative to what is around them - they are young, fun, liberal bubbles. Ramallah gets international nightlife attention (Nicholas Jaar played a gig at the Grand Park Hotel last year) that nowhere else in the West Bank can compete with and Snow Bar is a good place to start exploring this side of Palestinian culture.

5. Liwan (Nazareth)
Nazareth is a tiny but mighty hub for Arab music and nightlife. There is a burgeoning rock music scene and some great little places in the old city that unfortunately many tourists overlook. The typical visiter to the city comes on a rapid pilgrimage to a few churches yet there is much more than meets the eye here. Liwan was founded by two locals and a German in 2016 as a cultural space and cafe. By number five on the list you must be exhausted after so many great late nights so this may not be the best place to party! But over a Palestinian beer or two, at Liwan you will have challenging political discussions, hear fantastic local music, and rub shoulders with open minded Muslims, Christians, Jews and more.  They can also point you in the direction of Alreda, another nice mixed spot to eat, drink and chill nearby which gets an honourable mention.


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Crowdfunding Countdown - Post 1

- by Fred Schlomka -

It was about a year ago that the Green Olive Team decided to go the Crowdfunding route in order to raise capital for growth. It made more sense to us to take our proposal to our customers and supporters, rather than go to the banks or professional investors. After all, our success is due to our customers support, as has been evident by not only our sales growth, but by our membership growth over the past few years.

Green Olive now has over 170 members from dozens of countries, including over 50 people who
already own shares in the Collective. Our goal is to broaden the ownership even more, adding to our stakeholders while raising money for our next stage of development.

It's an exciting time for us, and we invite you to share the feeling and come on board. Sign up below for more information. No commitment is required at this time.

2017 was our best year, until now. 2018 was even better, with new tours and greater numbers of people experiencing Israel and Palestine the Green Olive way. Despite political troubles in the US, Europe and the Middle East, there is still a great thirst for a deeper understanding of the complex political geography that Green Olive excels in interpreting for our guests.

Our mission remains the same. Our steadfastness is unwavering. Our resolve is undiminished. Green Olive remains the only Israeli/Palestinian Partnership that has levelled the playing field between Arabs and Jews we work with on both sides of the Green Line. Our nine Working Partners come from Beit Sahour, East and West Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv. We stand together in opposition to the Israeli Occupation, and through our tours we advocate for a just and durable peace between the Christians, Muslims and Jews of the Holy Land.

Many of us are political activists, and have chosen a professional and business activity that dovetails neatly with our worldview. We are proudly a social enterprise. Join us in this adventure and help strengthen our organisation by becoming part of our broader family of supporters. Invest in the future. Buy some shares. Support our work. Help strengthen the vanguard of democracy in the region. We do not promise to make you rich, but your money will be safe, and the shares will continue to grow in value. We have 12 years of experience and steady growth to back up this pledge.

Please sign up below to be among the first to hear when the share offering opens in 6-8 weeks. Those of you who buy shares within the first 5 days of the offering, will receive substantial rewards as a token of our gratitude.
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Why is Christmas on the 25th of December?

- by Alex Jones - 

When I was a kid, we celebrated Christmas by opening gifts on morning of the 25th of December. I never questioned this, and it seemed the most natural thing to do considering everyone around me did the same thing and this was marked on our calendars as ‘Christmas Day’. But I later learnt that for many Christians, families have their biggest celebration on the 24th of December. I was even more shocked to learn later that depending on which branch of Christianity is most prevalent where you are, you may celebrate on January 6, 7, 18 or 19!

Christmas lights and the Nativity Church
Yesterday in Bethlehem was the Orthodox celebration of Christmas. The Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church makes a journey from the Mar Elias Monastery in Jerusalem – thought to be near the spot where a heavily Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem – towards the Nativity Church in Manger Square – thought to be the spot where she then gave birth.

Incidentally, he crosses the West Bank barrier through a special gate, build expressly for this purpose, and his procession recently has been greeted much less warmly by Palestinian locals. The church has recently been ‘forced to liquidate some assets’. Read: selling a large quantity of land in prime strategic locations to Jewish settlers. Much of the land was originally sold by Palestinians to the church assuming they would keep it safe and a lot of locals feel betrayed that it is now in the hands of settlement movements considered illegal by the international community.

But why do we celebrate Christmas on this date at all? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus was born on this date, or even that he was born in winter. In fact, it seems unlikely considering the shepherds were sleeping in the fields while their flocks grazed under the chilly December skies. You can visit the Shepherds’ Fields church on our Bethlehem tour which is said to have been built on the spot where this happened and anyone who has been there with us recently knows it’s not an ideal place to camp out in mid-winter!

One theory is that when Constantine converted to Christianity in 313, his subjects throughout the Roman Empire were expected to follow suit. It must have been hard to take away their beloved Pagan shrines, festivals and traditions and so many of the Christian equivalents were adapted and put on top. One of the largest festivals was Saturnalia, which honoured the god Saturn. It was held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. One theory is that Christmas was celebrated on the evening of the 24th or the 25th to compensate for banning Saturnalia.

Another theory suggests an astrological metaphor. The night of the 21st-22nd is the shortest of the year, known as the winter equinox. For two more nights the sun rises only an imperceptible amount to an ancient astronomer, and the third night, from the 24th to the 25th, is the first when many believed it rose again. This is of course symbolic of Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection three days later and may have been why the 25th was chosen as the date to celebrate Christmas.

But this doesn’t account for the date discrepancies between the various Churches. It is true that many Orthodox countries like Russia used the Julian, rather than the Gregorian calendar, which are about a week apart from one another. But even if the name of the day is different, an event in the sky still takes place on the same moment everywhere on the planet!

Assyrian Orthodox Church in Bethlehem
The best explanation comes from a tradition that says that Christ’s death occurred on the same day of the year as his miraculous conception. If we work backwards from mid-April the year he was crucified, and assume that even though he had no human father he did nevertheless spend 9 months in the womb, his date of birth would be approximately 33 years earlier, on December 25. The Orthodox Easter is about a week later than the Latin Easter, so the Christmas date shifts too.

Whatever the reason, it does give open-minded pilgrims, and cities like Bethlehem, an excuse to celebrate one event for nearly a month! If you missed the first two Christmases in Bethlehem, all is not lost, because the Armenian Christmas rounds the festivities out, on January 18. And of course, Bethlehem is a great city to visit year-round, Christmas time or not.


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