Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ramallah: a chance encounter with Madees Khoury, daughter of the first Palestinian microbrewers

People in Palestine say that Ramallah is not like the rest of their country.
"It's a bubble," said Sam Bahour, the Ohio-born Palestinian entrepreneur who came here after Oslo to help develop the country.

This afternoon in Ramallah, I stepped out of Stones, a hip focaccio place on a side street near the center of town where I had just immersed myself in an enormous baked potato with mushroom and cheese sauce, and nearly literally bumped into this young, energetic woman. Madees Khoury was deliv
ering kegs of her family's Taybeh Beer -- proudly the first Palestinian microbrewery. Here's the briefest of introductions.

Reflecting o
n myself and why I want to share this encounter with you, I realize it is to show the non-scary side of Palestinian life.
From what I see traveling around here, 99.44% of Palestinian life is non-scary.
But, so often the picture in Canada and in the Jewish community of Palestine is both desperate misery and rabid anger. I hardly ever see an image of Palestine and Palestinians which is attractive, interesting, lively or happy.
Walking through the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Dheisheh, sitting in cafes, talking with people, going into the Abd el-Jamal Nasser Mosque at evening prayer time, even in listening to a young woman whose father's prison now for three years with no trial, I have experienced a side of life which is deep, rich and very attractive.

Nine souls sharing עצמאות ונכבה - Independence and Catastrophe - يوم النكبة ويوم الاستقلال

Two hundred souls, Israeli and Palestinian, gathered for two days of the Israeli Yom ha-Zikaron & Yom ha-'Atsmaut (Remembrance Day and, following it, Independence Day) as well as to mark the Palestinian Yom al-Nakba (Day of Catastrophe).
It is, of course, the very same day.

The same day, two very different narratives.

Each narrative is part of the whole -- and only part.

Each has hardened. Each shuts out the other.
Two divergent narratives tear people apart.
Even more true, hardly ever do those people meet with hearts open.
Nearly never do they hear the story of the other, much less enter the heart of the other.

Two hundred of us here in this land chose to come together
to listen, to share memories, to be present and
to make possible visions of a future better than the
ongoing deep traumas of the past and present.

I thank God I was blessed to be among those people. I want to share the experience with you.
Beyond words, h
ow can I share it?
Here are small introductions to nine souls who live in this land . . .