Next Beer in Jerusalem

Boozing with Hamas


Fulfilling half of Frank Zappa's rule that you're not a country until you've got your own beer and airline, Palestine's ruling party now has its own (unofficial, nonalcoholic) brew. Taybeh Brewery owner Nadim Khoury is introducing a new 0.0 percent beverage with the brand name "Hamas" on an Islamic green label.

Khoury, who already markets a variety of real beers, notes that nonalcoholic brews are widely popular in the Gulf states; he hopes Hamas will look with favor on his new venture. (Taybeh's other beers are not sold in Gaza, and one of Khoury's distributors was burned down a few years ago.) But the brewer also sees his new drink helping Palestinians in their "unified goal," stating, "Every time we sell a bottle of beer it goes toward building the state of Palestine."

This isn't the first time Levantine suds have been served with a foamy head of national unity. Syria markets the government-owned Al-Sharq ("The East") medium malt, while Lebanon's Almaza advertises itself with the unbeatable slogan "One People, One Beer." But the arrival of Hamas brew reminds us of one encouraging tendency in the Middle East: the ability to make a buck during the grimmest of times.

Consider Gaza shop owner Ahmed Abu Dayya, who stocked up on flags of Denmark just before the riots against depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper hit the occupied territories. Interviewed by Reuters while flag burners were buying out his stock, Abu Dayya said Danish flags had temporarily been outselling his usual product—flammable flags of Israel. Most intriguingly, he noted that his supply of Israeli flags comes from a distributor in Israel. Who says international cooperation is dead?