Ann and helicopterAs I always say, I do have some fun too. On my way up to the north of the West Bank where I’m going to visit our other teams, I stumble on an Oktoberfest in the Christian town of Taybeh (Biblical town of Ephrain) about forty minutes east of Ramallah. Yes, seriously, a beer festival. Taybeh has the only independent brewery in the Middle East, and produces the excellent beer of the same name. The Khoury family started production there in the Nineties and did really well until the Intifada got in the way and sales plummeted. Luckily, as I learned on a visit round the plant, things have picked up again. Now I can say I’ve been round two breweries; Guinness in Dublin, and Taybeh in Taybeh. Actually, it was good fun all round, lots of good stuff to eat, beautiful embroidery to buy, local groups dancing Dabke, a really odd thing – a rugby match (remnant of British colonial schools?) and funnier still, the German cultural attaché and his three little boys decked out in lederhosen. Sometimes you really don’t know where you are here. Taybeh overlooks the Jordan Valley and the shadows on the desert at sunset were breathtaking.

Back to reality. The news that this week appalled the Palestinian street well used to appalling stuff is the Palestinian Authority is dropping its endorsement of the Goldstone report. To add insult to injury, the PA is launching an investigation into who actually made the decision, because apparently now no one is taking responsibility for it. OK, the Americans put the screws on, there were rumours of ‘blackmail’ tapes, and it was the price Israel was asking for approving airwaves for the new mobile phone network in the West Bank. Could it be that the Goldstone report was shafted to save a commercial deal? Human Rights vs Cheap Mobile Phone Calls?

So now I’m in Yanoun, a tiny village in the north east of the West Bank, which faces constant violence from the fundamentalist settlers of Itamar. The olive harvest starts tomorrow. The army is supposed to protect them for three days while they pick their olives nearest the settlement. They also need help from internationals or Israeli activists to get the crop in before their permit expires. Compared to the views of Itamar settlers, Bob is a saint.

More in my next journal about olive picking and my subsequent visit Tulkarem and the farmers who haven’t been out of my thoughts for three years. I’m afraid my invitation to visit me is running out, I’ll be leaving in three weeks. You’ll have to be quick.

Best wishes to all. Ann
As the Quakers say ‘There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.’


Disclaimer
I have been sent by Quaker Peace and Social Witness to participate in the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained here personal and do not necessarily reflect that of QPSW or the WCC. If you wish to public the information contained her or disseminate it further, please first contact the EAPPI national coordinator. teresap@quaker.org.uk

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