Nancy Adams, a member of the Living Letters team from the Scottish Episcopal Church, said the Peace Lamp that she took away from Taybeh was a powerful symbol of peace, and a reminder of the courage of the people she met there. She has already had opportunities to talk about her experience in Taybeh with church groups in Scotland, using the Peace Lamp as a focal point.
“I told them of many of the sorrows I had heard, seen and experienced. But I was also able to share with them the joy of the inspirational work going on in Taybeh,” she said.
“Another message I took home from Taybeh is that Christians, Muslims and Jews working so desperately for peace depend upon the international community to reignite the flame of peace with justice for the people of Palestine and Israel.”
Determined to live in peace
David Khoury, mayor of Taybeh, remains hopeful of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Khoury is also co-founder of the Taybeh Brewery. Palestine’s only brewery, it was established in 1995 and now runs under license in Belgium, exporting from there to other European markets. In 2007, a non-alcoholic beer was launched. Each year the brewery runs an Oktoberfest celebration featuring local musical and dance acts.
Khoury says that while business is stable at the moment, there have been difficult patches – particularly after the beginning of the second intifada, when the business almost closed.
Road closures and checkpoints are a daily reality, and while Israeli products, including beer, flow tax-free into the West Bank, Palestinian export products can be delayed for hours at checkpoints and often sent back, meaning no income is made that day.
Khoury and his brother Nadim – both born in Taybeh – had been living in Boston for 20 years when they decided to return to Palestine to set up the brewery.
“We came back to Taybeh because we wanted to contribute to the economy,” said David Khoury. “Palestine had never had its own brewery before – we wanted to provide local beer to the people, and to travellers to the area. Now tourists come every day to Taybeh. We’re proud that we come from this little village.”
He is realistic about the challenges facing the village. “Very soon we’ll have empty churches in Taybeh,” said Khoury. “The moment people have a chance, they leave. They are sick and tired of the way things are.”
But he hopes that activities like the brewery can provide some hope to the people of the region. “The Palestinian people live on hope. We’re determined that we want to live in peace, and stay in this Holy Land.”