Taybeh Oktoberfest 2008

The Taybeh OktoberFest was a great success with thousands of people attending the festivities. The guests included officials from the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, and diplomats from various embassies. Palestinians came from all over the West Bank and Israel, and a large contingent of Israelis came from Tel Aviv. This was truly a great showcase of Palestinian goodwill, hospitality, arts & crafts and coexistance at its best.The municipal hall was packed for the opening ceremonies, with standing room only and many people left outside. No-one minded because the beer was flowing and good humor prevailed.

The festival site included many food stalls provided by the villagers and local crafts were displayed for purchase including the famous ceramic Peace Lamps, olive oil, soap, carvings, and embroidery.

A contingent of Palestinian police provided security, and it was interesting to note that they were not armed but directed traffic and acted as informal guides to people seeking directions. There was also a great deal of discrete plain clothes security who tagged along with the many dignitaries at the event.

In addition to several beer stations at the festival site, the Taybeh Brewery conducted frequent tours of the facility, and did a brisk trade in cases of beer, T-shirts and olive oil. The Khoury family who own the brewery were principal organizers of the festival and many members were conducting tours, and facilitating the festival events.

One of the highlights was the guided tour of Taybeh's 8th Century Byzantine Church by John Awwad who also conducts tours in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. On the first day of the festival a sheep was slaughtered at the entrance to the church in an ancient rite that predates Christianity and maybe Judaism also. During the tour, visitors had to step around the drying blood to enter the church. This ongoing tradition only underscores Taybeh's claim to 5,000 years of existence.

All in all it was a great event, and serves to promote the village and the West Bank as a tourist destination. ToursInEnglish.com transported people from Tel Aviv and jerusalem on both days of the festival, providing them with an overview of the political geography of the region en-route.

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