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Resistance Is Fertile!

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This article deals with two nonviolent resistance movements in the contemporary West Bank, where the “local” itself is under constant threat of encroachment by Israeli infrastructures of control, co-option, and containment. Resistance is fertile in two ways: one, people have proposed that nonviolent resistance is the productive (fertile) way to oppose the Israeli occupation, and two, nonviolent resistance is fertile in the sense of using local resources (land, water, plants) to produce local food and drink. The first example is Taybeh beer, the first Palestinian microbrewed beer, and the second is Sharaka, a community supported agriculture group in the West Bank, which supports “reinvention” in the sense of rediscovering local Palestinian foods and making them available to consumers. Both movements assert their opposition to the occupation: Taybeh invites consumers to “taste the revolution” in their beer, while Sharaka invites consumers to seek out the local “baladi” taste of Palestinian products instead of Israeli-produced food products. The article investigates the important differences between the two in terms of their orientation toward international (Taybeh) or local markets and audiences (Sharaka). The two also differ crucially in their attitude toward effective resistance: through developing Palestinian firms within a neoliberal economy or in striving for an independent Palestinian agriculture in opposition to dependence on Israeli food products. Further, the two differ on practices of boycott: Sharaka supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement whereas Taybeh actively seeks Israeli markets for its beer.
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SPECIAL ISSUE | THE REINVENTION OF FOOD
Resistance Is Fertile!
Anne Meneley, Trent University
Abstract: This article deals with two nonviolent resistance move-
ments in the contemporary West Bank, where the ‘‘local’’ itself is
under constant threat of encroachment by Israeli infrastructures of
control, co-option, and containment. Resistance is fertile in two
ways: one, people have proposed that nonviolent resistance is the
productive (fertile) way to oppose the Israeli occupation, and two,
nonviolent resistance is fertile in the sense of using local resources
(land, water, plants) to produce local food and drink. The first
example is Taybeh beer, the first Palestinian microbrewed beer, and
the second is Sharaka, a community supported agriculture group in
the West Bank, which supports ‘‘reinvention’’ in the sense of redis-
covering local Palestinian foods and making them available to con-
sumers. Both movements assert their opposition to the occupation:
Taybeh invites consumers to ‘‘taste the revolution’’ in their beer,
while Sharaka invites consumers to seek out the local ‘‘baladi’’ taste
of Palestinian products instead of Israeli-produced food products.
The article investigates the important differences between the two
in terms of their orientation toward international (Taybeh) or local
markets and audiences (Sharaka). The two also differ crucially in
their attitude toward effective resistance: through developing
Palestinian firms within a neoliberal economy or in striving for an
independent Palestinian agriculture in opposition to dependence
on Israeli food products. Further, the two differ on practices of
boycott: Sharaka supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
movement whereas Taybeh actively seeks Israeli markets for its
beer.
Keywords: Palestine, resistance, Taybeh beer, Sharaka Community
Supported Agriculture, local food movements.
the practices of everyday commensality—producing,
provisioning, and consuming food and drink in the West
Bank of Palestine—are radically affected by the Israeli occu-
pation. I discuss two very different Palestinian initiatives that
envision production and consumption of food and drink as
a nonviolent means of resisting the occupation: a craft beer
called Taybeh brewed in the predominantly Christian
Taybeh village close to Ramallah, and a local agriculture
movement based in the Ramallah district known as Sharaka
(‘‘partnership’’ in Arabic). Theories of resistance in anthropol-
ogy, from James Scott’s (1985) conception of resistance tactics
as ‘‘weapons of the weak’’ to Lila Abu-Lughod’s (1990) idea of
resistance as a ‘‘diagnostic of power,’’ still resonate in Pales-
tine as the Palestinians are so clearly in a position of gross
inequality in relation to their Israeli occupiers, whose power
is hardly disguised enough to need a diagnostic. I have found
Julia Elyachar’s discussion of how agency is embedded in
infrastructure and infrastructure is implicated in resistance
activities insightful. This is particularly salient given the pecu-
liar status of infrastructure in the West Bank where, instead of
facilitating connectivity, infrastructure is designed to impede
and exclude flows—in this case, commodities of sustenance
(Elyachar 2014: 460). I am primarily concerned with both
Christian and Muslim Palestinians in the West Bank; while
I did not have the opportunity to travel to Gaza, conditions in
Gaza, including the shocking 2014 Israeli military offensive,
affect political sentiments and actions in the West Bank,
including resistance practices involving food, a topic I will
return to briefly in the postscript of this article.
Local food and drink production and consumption have
become sites of ‘‘agro-resistance.’’ Vivien Sansour, a journalist
and activist, describes 78-year-old Abu Adnan as one of Pales-
tine’s farmer revolutionaries, who ‘‘understand on an experi-
ential level that healing for us as a community suffering from
oppression and occupation requires the restoration of our
sense of self—a self that is defiant but not defined by its oppres-
sor’’ (Sansour 2010: 2). Dinaa Hadid cites a Palestinian farmer
who, like Abu Adnan, envisions agricultural practice itself as
a fertile resistance: ‘‘‘I don’t throw rocks,’ says farmer Khader,
referring to young men who frequently hurl stones during
demonstrations. He pointed to his rock-built terraces. ‘I use
them to build our future’’’ (Hadid 2012: 3). I borrow my title
from that of a recent article published in Al-Jazeera, ‘‘Resis-
tance Is Fertile: Palestine’s Eco-War’’ (Brownsell 2011), itself
a spinoff from the classic line by the Borg in Star Trek: The Next
Generation, ‘‘Resistance is futile.’’ Describing Palestinian
gastronomica: the journal of critical food studies
, vol.14, no.4, pp.69–78, issn 1529-3262. ©2014 by the regents of the university of california. all rights reserved. please direct all requests for permission to
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‘‘guerilla gardeners of the occupied West Bank,’’ the author
quotes Baha Hilo, then of the Joint Advocacy Initiative,
responsible for planting olive trees on land that is in danger
of being confiscated: ‘‘We’re not a militia, our weapons are our
pickaxes and shovels, our hands and our olive trees’’ (ibid.: 3).
Baha Hilo was my guide during my five years as an intermittent
‘‘guerilla gardener’’ myself, as we picked olives on Palestinian
land threatened by Israeli military or settlers. Here, I examine
how guerrilla gardeners are part of contemporary Palestine
agricultural movements and, moreover, are deployed as a new
form of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation.
First, the Local
Both of these movements—Taybeh craft beer and Sharaka—
have in common a claim to be ‘‘local.’’ Although the term
‘‘local’’ may sound familiar to food activists in North America
and Europe, it has different connotations in occupied Pales-
tine, as one might imagine. A number of themes in current
Palestinian discourses about food resonate with those circu-
lating in (middle-class) Western discourses, especially the
notion that local, organic, seasonal, GMO-free, ‘‘slow’’ food
purchased from farmers one knows is inherently superior
to industrially produced, artificial, anonymous food. Don
Nonini forwards a strong critique of the local food movement
in the United States, suggesting that it is part of a white ‘‘eth-
noracial majority’’ who are part of a ‘‘global cosmopolitan
elite’’ (Nonini 2013: 274). Brad Weiss, in contrast, has a more
nuanced notion of the local. He discusses how the local food
movement in North Carolina is inspired by a desire to
counter industrial food production, involving ‘‘efforts to com-
bat the dire social inequities of environmental, human and
animal degradation at the hands of industrialization’’ (Weiss
2011: 440). Weiss notes the ways in which a sense of the local is
created in North Carolina craft pig production through var-
ious practices related to the rearing, production, sharing, and
selling of porcine products. He also notes that the people com-
ing to North Carolina to work in the high tech industries ‘‘take
root’’ through a commitment to local food (Weiss 2012: 616). In
Palestine, however, the question is not how individuals take
root, but how they resist being uprooted in a contemporary
colonial context. The literature on food and colonialism is vast,
but I will draw on one example by Susanne Freidberg (2008),
who describes how agricultural production is affected by colo-
nial regimes (she uses the examples of the French in Burkina
Faso and the British in Zambia), and how postcolonial relation-
ships are inflected by concerns about food safety within the
European markets. Palestine, however, has yet to face the
dilemmas posed by postcolonialism, since it remains under the
colonial occupation of Israel. When it comes to Palestine, the
issue is more about having one’s ‘‘local’’ disappear before one’s
eyes. In the words of Sari Hanafi (2009), whatis going on in the
Israeli occupation of the West Bank is ‘‘spaciocide’’ as the infra-
structures of occupation—the Separation Barrier, the bypass
roads, military outposts, checkpoints, and illegal Israeli settle-
ments—continue, on a daily basis, to commandeer Palestinian
land, including some of the most treasured agricultural land.
The Separation Barrier runs through several villages,
thereby disrupting people’s sense of ‘‘the local’’ and the phys-
ical space of the local itself.
1
As is so heartbreakingly pre-
sented in the 2009 documentary film Budrus, villagers may
be separated from their own agricultural lands, and in some
cases, villages themselves are split in two. Checkpoints and
curfews impede the transfer of time-sensitive agricultural
goods. Since the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israeli incursions into
West Bank territory have escalated, land has been confiscated
for settlements, and settlers destroy Palestinian olive groves
almost daily.
2
Israeli industrial food products flood the West
Bank markets, as do their agricultural products. Much of the
latter is produced in the West Bank on Palestinian lands,
particularly in the fertile Jordan Valley, which is under Israeli
control. At least twenty-two illegal settlements have been built
there, many of them large-scale industrial agricultural farms
exploiting the water resources and fertile soil and displacing
the indigenous Palestinian communities (Haddad, Erakat,
and Saba 2013). Many Palestinians, displaced from their own
land, have become day laborers on these agricultural settle-
ments, which are heavily subsidized by the Israeli govern-
ment and produce products that are cheaper than those
produced in other parts of the West Bank.
Another enduring problem is that the Palestinian Author-
ity does not have control over the import and export of food
products (Mansour 2012a)—Israel determines what product
and in what quantities the PA can import or export. Neolib-
eral economic theories, accelerating since the 1993 Oslo
Accords, have been particularly destructive in Palestine (see
LeVine 2009), a place whose legal status remains uncertain.
3
Conventional economic theories are applied to the occupied
territories in expectation that Palestinian businesses will
thrive by specializing in the production of goods in which
they have a competitive productive advantage. According to
Samer Abdelnour and Alaa Tartir, the main goal of a people
under occupation should be to free their land, not to compete
with free nations using economic indicators without concern
for political context (Abdelnour and Tartir 2012: 2). These are
the conditions under which the Taybeh Brewing Company
and the guerrilla gardeners labor.
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Taybeh Beer
In a recent interview, Nadim Khoury, founder of the Taybeh
Brewing Company, describes the meaning of his beer:
‘‘This is peaceful resistance actually,’’ Nadim says, after a momentary
silence, and looks at me as I raise my eyebrows.
‘‘No, it is. Making beer and making business and being here. We still
don’t have a country, but we have a beer, and I’m proud of that’’
(Crowcroft 2013).
Nadim Khoury is one of the many Palestinian entrepre-
neurs who saw an opportunity to return to his homeland after
the Oslo Accords in 1993. The ‘‘peace’’ part of the accords
perhaps has not borne fruit, nor has the establishment of
a Palestinian state come about, but Oslo did allow Khoury
to establish the first Palestinian microbrewery (and the first in
the Middle East) in 1994. Khoury had studied craft brewery in
Boston before returning to Palestine to make it his permanent
residence. Taybeh beer is interesting in its claim to represent
Palestinianness and locality. The notion of craft beer produc-
tion is a foreign one, and while there was local wine produc-
tion in the areas around Bethlehem (the Cremisian
Monastery in Bayt Jala has produced communion wine for
centuries, and the anise-flavored arak of Bethlehem is famed),
microbrewed beer was not a central element of the Palesti-
nian repertoire.
4
The following excerpt from the official
Taybeh website outlines Khoury’s approach to brewing beer,
highlighting the ‘‘naturalness’’ of Taybeh beer and its lack of
preservatives. The beer is described as ‘‘hand crafted with
state of the art equipment,’’ as organic and prepared in small
batches, all of which emphasize its distance from industrially
produced beer:
Taybeh (tai-bey) in Arabic means ‘‘delicious.’’ Our Taybeh beer is
handcrafted in small batches in German traditional style using a top
fermenting yeast and cold lagering. This process creates a distinctively
flavored beer with a clean, crisp taste. Taybeh Golden Beer—brewed
with only the finest natural ingredients: malted barley, hops, pure water,
and yeast—is the fresh, flavorful alternative to imported beers. Cheers!
The Taybeh Beer Company’s website indicates the strong
influence of famous European beer nations such as Belgium,
the Czech Republic, and Germany. The company has even
imported European ingredients including hops and barley,
although in the past barley was a staple crop in Palestine.
The only ingredient that guarantees ‘‘Palestinianness’’ is
the ‘‘natural spring water’’ from the Ein Samia spring. This is
an important point, as water in Palestine is now under serious
threat, with Israelis controlling 80 percent of the water in the
West Bank, and springs, like olive trees, are very much a target
of Israeli settler colonialism. Manning (2012: 223), speaking of
Georgian beer production, has an interesting analysis of how
European beer technology insures ‘‘quality’’ of production,
but marketing authentic Georgianness focuses on two ele-
ments: the ‘‘ethnographic’’ tradition of Georgia’s mountain
peoples, and Georgian ‘‘nature’’ in the form of the mountain
spring water that has been renowned for centuries. In the case
of Palestine, the Ein Samia water is the guarantor of Palesti-
nian authenticity while the European ingredients and tech-
niques are the guarantors of quality. In Taybeh’s promotional
material, it is not ethnography that is drawn upon but dis-
courses about resources in Palestinian nationalism; water is as
much of a concern as land. Customers are urged to ‘‘Drink
Palestinian’’ in order to ‘‘Taste the Revolution,’’ linking beer
consumption to a wider political project of freeing Palestine
from the Israeli occupation.
Taybeh provides a craft alternative to cheaper, mass-
produced Israeli beer such as Maccabee and Goldstar:
Taybeh’s producers not only introduce a higher-quality craft
product, but highlight its Palestinianness as a selling point
versus the industrial beer of the occupier. This fact was per-
suasive to many of the ‘‘guerrilla gardener’’ olive picking
volunteers in the West Bank, who often enjoyed drinking
a cool and tasty Palestinian beer after the hot and dusty work
of olive picking on endangered Palestinian land.
Food and drink in Palestine, as elsewhere, are associated
with particular forms of sociality; beer production and con-
sumption was not a central element of the traditional Pales-
tinian repertoire, and the sociality that attends it now is
a foreign one. In 2005, the Khoury family introduced the
Taybeh Oktoberfest, a festival that has been held on the first
week of October ever since. The two-day festival features all of
Taybeh’s beers, including their nonalcoholic and dark beers,
local food, and all manner of locally produced Palestinian
products, including Taybeh olive oil and honey. The Okto-
berfest also features local Palestinian bands as well as bands
from abroad: Bavaria, Italy, and Brazil, among others. The
festival was popular with the Israeli left, who come in droves.
It is also an event that has garnered much international atten-
tion because it is a celebratory event with drinking as a central
ritual, seeming to contradict imaginaries of Palestine as a joy-
less place characterized only by misery and violence. In 2012,
a record number of 16,000 people visited Taybeh. But by 2013,
trouble was brewing from within the local: the new local
council in Taybeh protested the disruption the festival caused
to the everyday life of villagers, and demanded a large fee and
share of the beer revenues in exchange for approval to host
the Oktoberfest. An agreement was not reached and the
festival was moved to the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah
(Gilbert 2013). All of this speaks to recent local discord about
the Taybeh beer factory and its place in the local economy
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and society. Some protested the public drunkenness, saying
that it offends the Muslim population which surrounds the
Christian village of Taybeh. In response, Khoury notes that
Taybeh also offers a nonalcoholic beer for the nondrinkers of
Palestine, including pious Muslims. Those villagers opposed
to Taybeh say that the company provides little employment
beyond the Khoury family and no social benefit to the com-
munity. The Khourys counter that the Oktoberfest provided
an opportunity for local people to sell their food, handicrafts,
and agricultural products to visitors. They also argue that they
supported farmers, especially during the difficult years of the
Second Intifada, by using their expertise and connections to
export Taybeh olive oil abroad.
5
Khoury is not only interested in internal markets for his
beer; Taybeh is exported to Japan and Belgium. The com-
panyhadbeeninconversationwiththeLiquorControl
Board of Ontario (Nadim Khoury, personal communication,
November 2007), but it has not appeared in Ontario stores.
6
The brewery in Palestine is as active as it can be, depending
on the political circumstances, but Khoury is very proud that
it was the first Palestinian product to be franchised in 1997, as
it is also brewed and bottled in Germany, which helps to
circumvent the difficulties of exporting under the Israeli-
imposed constraints on beer produced in Palestine. Although
it is a product that explicitly evokes Palestinian nationalism in
its promotional material, the Taybeh Beer Company does not
recognize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
designed to put pressure on Israel to agree to a just peace.
Taybeh is kosher certified and is sold in some establishments
in Israel; my impression was that the cafes and restaurants
where it was sold were relatively left-leaning. Yet Taybeh
products are as vulnerable as any to the infrastructural impe-
diments imposed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
If it is held up at border checkpoints, unpasteurized beer, like
olive oil (Meneley 2008, 2011), can be ruined by exposure to
sun. Khoury is quoted as saying: ‘‘If [our beer] gets too warm
at the checkpoint, a second fermentation starts and it goes
cloudy. We have to throw it away’’ (Philips 2001: 1). However,
for Israeli beer blogger Doug Greener (Israel Brews and
Views), it is the Khoury family’s mention of politics that
‘‘clouds’’ their beer. He asserts that they should not mention
Israeli infrastructures of control:
The Khoury family has chosen confrontation over fermentation.
Although the Taybeh website is free of politics (except for the press
clippings), the Khourys never miss an opportunity to attack Israel, the
‘‘occupation,’’ the ‘‘settlers’’ around Taybeh. If their company isn’t
growing fast enough, its [sic] the fault of the Israeli security checks and
bureaucracy. If shipping their export beer takes too long, it’s because
Israel discriminates against them. ‘‘Anti-Israel’’ has become as much
a part of the Taybeh Beer brand as the ‘‘pure brewing’’ and ‘‘building
Palestine’’ narratives (Greener 2013).
Few in the West Bank would agree with Greener’s assertion
that Israel’s infrastructural stranglehold over the West Bank
does not have profound negative effects on perishable food
items.
Yet despite the claim that one can ‘‘taste the revolution’’ in
Taybeh beer, the Taybeh Brewing Company, and Khoury
himself, do seem to fall into the category that Dana (2014)
describes as ‘‘returnee capitalists,’’ who are willing to normal-
ize economic relationships with Israel before any political
settlement has been reached about land, water, and the right
of Palestinian refugees to return. Former Taybeh enthusiasts
in Ramallah who were anxious to support local production
have stopped consuming it, because they do not consider
Taybeh’s strategy of economic normalization with Israel as
leading to a fertile resistance to its occupation of the West
Bank.
FIGURE 1: Photo of Taybeh beer poster, The Garden Restaurant in
East Jerusalem.
photograph by anne meneley ©2010
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The Sharaka Movement
While the craft beer of Taybeh has no precedent in Palesti-
nian life, the Taybeh Beer Company has certainly brought
Palestine much international attention due to its counterin-
tuitive presence and its borrowing of the German tradition of
Oktoberfest as its attendant cosmopolitan sociality. In con-
trast, consider the Sharaka agricultural initiative, as described
in their 2013 Annual Report:
Conceived in 2009, Sharaka is a volunteer initiative working to preserve
our Palestinian agricultural heritage and bring Palestinian consumers
and producers together to celebrate our seasonal harvests. We are not an
NGO. We are a group of concerned Palestinian volunteers attempting
to support local producers and raise awareness among our fellow
Palestinians. We envision a food sovereign Palestine where Palestinians
produce a sufficient food supply using traditional, seasonal, and envi-
ronmentally sound farming techniques (uploaded to Sharaka’s Face-
book page, February 6, 2013).
The photo adorning the Sharaka—Community Supported
Agriculture’s public group Facebook page features a represen-
tation of the Palestinian flag made of olives, yogurt, parsley,
and tomatoes.
At the heart of the Sharaka initiative is the concept of
baladi, the Arabic word used as a translation of the English
local. However, as a concept, baladi embodies much more
than ‘‘local,’’ connoting the intimate connection of the Pales-
tinian people to their land and its agricultural products that
sustain them and their homeland. Sharaka is thus more of an
inward looking initiative, in contrast to Taybeh, which culti-
vates external markets and international attendees at its Okto-
berfest. Baladi food invokes ‘‘authenticity’’ and a certain
nostalgia for a life that is in danger of being lost forever.
Sharaka is a nonprofit, volunteer initiative that rejects foreign
aid money, opposes the neoliberal reforms of the Palestinian
Authority (PA), the flooding of Palestinian food markets with
Israeli products or mass-produced food products from abroad,
internationally funded NGO initiatives, and fair-trade com-
panies that focus on international markets. They are strong
supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions move-
ment, which encourages Palestinians and global consumers
to boycott, among other things, agricultural products raised in
illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank. As deployed
here, the call for baladi products is reinventing food traditions
in the sense of ‘‘rediscovering’’ them (Grasseni and Paxson,
this volume). Sharaka not only encourages individuals mak-
ing different food choices, but also creates a space where local
foods, once edged out, are made available. Sharaka’s primary
activities are the organization of a weekly farmers’ market in
Ramallah, providing weekly baskets of fresh produce for
subscribers, and the organization of underground restaurant
meals. This restaurant initiative, Al Mahjoul, is promoted and
described on Sharaka’s Facebook page: for a modest sum,
participants enjoy a meal made of exclusively Palestinian
ingredients, cooked by volunteers.
The Sharaka movement follows the idea of agriculture
as resistance to the Israeli occupation, but unlike the Tay-
beh Beer Company, it looks inward to provide good local
food for the local community. Sharaka was inspired in part
by the community supported agriculture movement (CSA)
in the United States, but the principles of alternative food
networks take on distinctive characteristics in the Palesti-
nian context. Aisha Mansour, Fareed Taamallah, and Car-
ine Abu Hmeid started Sharaka in 2009 to encourage
patronage of Palestinian agricultural products and farming
practices. ‘‘When we refer to baladi, we are referring to our
heirloom seeds that have been saved by our falaheen [peas-
ant farmers] year after year. Unfortunately, we are losing
this richness as a result of industrial GMO farming’’ (Aisha
Mansour, personal communication, June 22, 2013). In their
quest to restore baladi products to contemporary Palesti-
nian markets, the organizers are embarking on a ‘‘reinven-
tion of food’’ program, in the sense of striving to rediscover
and ‘‘renew the foundation’’ of baladi food (Grasseni and
Paxson, this volume). The Israeli occupation is ever present
in discussions of baladi food, as is evident in the following
blog post on seasonalpalestine from May 2013, where Man-
sour notes the effect on agriculture of the Israeli control of
the water supply in the West Bank: ‘‘I planted tomatoes for
my aunt on my first spring in Palestine. But then summer
encroached, with all of its side effects including increased
withholding of our water resources by the Israeli occupation.
FIGURE 2: Palestinian flag, in local vegetables.
image courtesy of sharaka – community supported agriculture
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Nowatertobathe,letalonetowaterthetomatoplants.The
tomatoes died.’’
7
Sharaka supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
movement by encouraging their supporters to eat Palestinian
produce from local, small-scale producers who are not
funded by foreign aid agencies or supplied with GMO seeds.
8
As the blurb on Aisha’s blog, seasonalpalestinian, says: ‘‘Defy
free trade. Support your health and our small-scale Palesti-
nian producers by eating from the local and seasonal Pales-
tinian harvest. Say no to cheap, low quality imports. And say
yes to supporting a healthy community and a strong local
economy.’’
9
The following quote indicates how the Sharaka
initiative rejects the strategies of industrial agriculture,
including the use of chemical pesticides and greenhouses:
My winter garden was full of flavor. Arugula, spinach and radish for
wonderful winter salads. Potatoes and broccoli for soups, stews, and stir-
fries. And ground and body nutrifying fava beans (foul), chickpeas, and
peas. Palestinians have historically planted these three in the winter in
order to build the soil for the summer garden. Our ancestors cared for
our land, respecting its limits to ensure annual production. This is in
stark contrast to the practices of some farmers today who use plastic
green houses and chemical pesticides to produce the same two to three
vegetables all year long, destroying their land in the process.
10
Sharaka encourages people to make their own jam and
pickled vegetables, sealed with olive oil, as in traditional
practice. Aisha’s point in pickling and preserving is not quite
the same as the contemporary North American interest in
preserving and pickling, which if political, tends to frame the
practice as a resistance to industrial food production. Sharaka
envisions it as a way of reviving practices of preserving Pales-
tinian produce for the winter so as to be able to boycott Israeli
produce. The spirit behind the preservation movement is to
resurrect the baladi tradition of preserving spring and sum-
mer vegetables for the rainy and cold winter. But Sharaka also
encourages foraging for local plants like wild cyclamen,
which does not cost anything aside from time and effort.
Sharaka announces its events on Facebook and an email
listserv. A recent posting notes that La Vie Caf´
e in Ramallah
is sponsoring Palestinian dinners featuring produce from
their rooftop gardens, ‘‘All our cakes are made with organic
eggs from our very own chickens, which feed on the compost
and fertilize the garden’’ (Sharaka, June 5, 2013). The empha-
sis is on organic, seasonal baladi produce. Perhaps the most
notable contribution of the Sharaka movement is the estab-
lishment of a weekly farmers’ market, Souq Akli Baladi (My
Food Is Local), in Ramallah, as the following call demon-
strates: ‘‘This week at the Sharaka Akli Baladi market: grapes,
cucumbers, plums, apples, faquus, arugula, mloukhia, figs,
free range chicken eggs, vinegar, olive oil, taboun bread,
cheese, flour, spices, herbs and vegetable plants so that you
can grow your own food in whatever space that you have.
Shop at the market so that you too can eat baladi, seasonal,
and 100%Palestinian.’’
The market features local musicians, along with the tradi-
tional taboun bread baked in a clay oven fueled by olive
wood. The vegetable seedlings that they sell encourage
patrons to start their own vegetable gardens in hopes of reduc-
ing local dependency on Israeli produce. Their Facebook
page features fetching pictures of local produce and local
producers, who are introduced by describing their troubles
in holding on to their land in the face of the relentless land
cooptation that attends the creeping infrastructure of the
Israeli occupation:
Meet farmer Fatima who participates weekly at the Sharaka souq akli
baladi. Fatima comes from Beit Nuba, a Palestinian village that was
evacuated due to the aggressions of the Israeli Occupation. Most of
Fatima’s farmland in Beit Nuba is behind the Israeli Apartheid Wall and
she cannot access it. There is a small portion of the land on the other
side of the Wall that she farms. She has also rented 10 dunoms of land in
Betunia. Fatima produces seasonal baladi vegetables such as zucchini,
fresh black-eyed beans, and faquus. She often brings a specialty dish to
the market for those looking for lunch. Fatima explains that souq akli
baladi is a helpful initiative for small-scale farmers such as herself to sell
their produce to the community. She explains that some consumers are
looking for the perfectly shaped fruit or vegetable. But baladi products
are healthier and tastier than the perfectly shaped items found in the
mainstream market. Stop by the Saturday market to support farmers like
Fatima and feed your family good, clean, and fair food (Sharaka Face-
book page).
Sharaka was delighted to be the subject of an article in
Brownbook, a magazine about urban lifestyles in the Middle
East (based in the United Arab Emirates), noting the recog-
nition of Palestine as a place where food politics were inex-
tricably linked to emancipatory politics (Dawson 2013).
11
Sharaka’s mandate explicitly critiques the NGO model as
destructive to Palestinian agriculture.
12
The foreign NGOs,
funded by the United States, European Union, Kuwait, Swe-
den, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and the World Bank, have
been critiqued for encouraging dependence on foreign or
Israeli inputs, like genetically modified seeds, pesticides, and
fertilizers. Mansour argues:
Farmers are trained to manage their farms according to international
quality management standards. And they are inspired to produce high
value cash crops such as cherry tomatoes and flowers in order to earn
additional income in the external market. Rather than focus on food
production for subsistence, and selling the excess on the local market,
the modernized Palestinian farmer produces cash crops for export, and
uses the earned income to purchase food for the household. The reality
is that most of these modernized Palestinian farmers find themselves in
debt. Unable to export effectively under the current conditions of the
Occupation as well as agribusiness intermediaries who purchase crops
GASTRONOMICA
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from these farmers at very low prices, these farmers are unable to make
ends meet. The sale of their outputs is not sufficient to meet the costs of
the expensive inputs, let alone household obligations (Mansour 2012a).
Sharaka was invited to the Slow Food Terre Madre meet-
ing Convivium in Turin in October 2012 as the ‘‘Slow Food
Ramallah’’ chapter. The Sharaka board took some time to
deliberate whether their goals were compatible with those
of Slow Food; they, like many, were concerned with Slow
Food’s elitist reputation. However, they eventually decided to
join in order to heighten the profile of baladi Palestinian
food, turning away from their inward focus. Along with Imad
Asfour from Gaza, Aisha and her colleague Fareed Tammal-
lah were given plane tickets and a place to stay in Turin.
13
The small but vibrant Slow Food Ramallah chapter was very
well received at Terre Madre, and as noted above, external
recognition of the existence of Palestine as a place, a locality,
with distinctive food products, is very important to the mem-
bers. In the words of Fareed:
They [Italian and foreign visitors] packed the Palestinian wing asking
questions about Palestine and the Palestinian people, and they admired
the products of the land of Palestine. This gave us determination and
will to complete our journey to protect our mother land, not through
empty slogans, but through farming and production, and to hold dear
the land that provides us life and food and dignity (Taamallah 2012).
Sharaka has started an organic olive oil cooperative in Qira,
whose oil is sold under the auspices of Slow Food Ramallah
primarily to local residents of Ramallah and its surrounding
regions, one example of developing sustainable Palestinian
agricultural and herding endeavors.
Sharaka has strong links to a couple of permaculture initia-
tives in the West Bank, one close to Bethlehem, Bustan Qar-
aaqa, which teaches Palestinian and international volunteers
‘‘innovative water management and farming techniques’’
FIGURE 3: Foraging, Palestinian style.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FAREED TAAMALLAH,SHARAKA COMMUNITY SUPPORTED
AGRICULTURE
FIGURE 4: These foraged wild cyclamen leaves are used in place of
grape leaves and stuffed with meat and rice. This dish, served at one of
the Al Mahjoul restaurants, was well received by the guests.
photograph courtesy of fareed taamallah, sharaka – community supported
agriculture
GASTRONOMICA
75
WINTER 2014
(Brownsell 2011: 5). Another permaculture farm has been estab-
lished in the village of Marda, close to the huge Israeli settle-
ment of Ariel, which is notorious for letting sewage seep down
into the Palestinian lands below (Reidy 2013). Murad al-
Khufash runs a permaculture farm that recently featured an
appearance by Starhawk, self-proclaimed pagan and goddess,
leading a two-week seminar which Aisha Mansour attended.
According toAisha, Starhawk was inspirational inher insistence
on connecting the earth and its products with the social world,
a theme that is central to Sharaka’s goal of reconnecting Pales-
tinians with their land. The permaculture initiative rejects che-
mical fertilizer or pesticides in favor of compost and manure;
Aisha’s master’s thesis, which she completed at Bethlehem Uni-
versity, critiques both free-trade agreements and international
aid that have promoted ‘‘chemically intensive industrial-style
agricultural practices’’ (Mansour, cited in Reidy 2013: 3).
Guerrilla Gardening and Solidarity Sipping
Sharaka can be considered ‘‘guerrilla gardening,’’ like olive
tree planting and olive picking, in that its revolutionary strat-
egies lie within the agricultural realm and has food sover-
eignty for Palestine as its goal. Al Kufash of the Marda
Permaculture farm argues that food sovereignty is essential
as a tactic for surviving under Israeli curfews or closures,
which could happen at any moment. At Sharaka’s annual
retreat, in 2014, it was decided to pursue establishing a food
coop/store to ensure year-round access to baladi products. As
Aisha said to me, ‘‘We plan to put an action plan together and
begin working, but this is a long-term thing and might take all
year to implement. In the meantime, we will continue with
our other activities’’ (personal communication, January 25,
2014). Sharaka is inward looking, in the sense that it wants
to provide high-quality baladi food for baladi people, whose
diets have suffered under the occupation, and to revive what
Trubek (2005) calls a ‘‘taste of place’’ for political ends to
produce a moral and ethical food economy. It invokes a return
to the land, to local seeds over GMO seeds handed out by
NGOs, and to envisioning resistance as an embodied, every-
day act that everyone can and should perform. Sharaka is
a nonprofit organization, its members envisioning themselves
as brokers between producers and consumers, and educators
of a tired, numb, and disenfranchised public. Jaded about
peace talks and having lost whatever little faith it had in the
Palestinian Authority, Sharaka envisions reclaiming local
food as a means of resistance to the Israeli occupation, and
the foreign aid donors who subsidize it. Baladi invokes a world
of cultural practices that are in danger of being lost, as
Palestinian land is disappearing at an astonishing rate, mak-
ing a local food movement here political in a way it may not
be elsewhere. In contrast to Weiss’s work on the North Car-
olina hog producers’ ‘‘place-making strategies,’’ in Palestine
this local movement embodies ‘‘place-preserving strategies.’’
While the industrialization of food products is an issue in
Palestine, it is more an issue of Israeli-industrialized food
produced on co-opted Palestinian land and dumped on cap-
tive Palestinian markets. The local food movement in Pales-
tine is fueled by the concern to retain what is left of
Palestinian land and support the farmers who continue to
work it, as any land that appears to be abandoned is open
to confiscation by the Israeli state. They strive for food sover-
eignty despite the absence of political sovereignty.
Nadim Khoury’s Taybeh Beer Company, in contrast, dis-
plays a completely different tactic in its cosmopolitan version
of the local. Although claiming, as Sharaka does, that con-
suming Palestinian products produced by Palestinian family-
owned businesses is a form of nonviolent resistance to the
occupation, his is a corporate vision, a kind of activist-
capitalism. Khoury is not producing a typical, traditional
‘‘local’’ product, as microbrewed beer was previously
unknown in Palestine. What he did was introduce a desir-
able and unexpected product from a region not known for
high-quality beer connoisseurship. He also introduced cos-
mopolitan modes of sociality in the form of the Palestinian
Oktoberfest into an occupied land not imagined as a place
of light-hearted revelry. These actions were highly successful
in drawing attention to Palestine precisely because of the
incongruous juxtaposition. Taybeh beer and the Oktoberfest
proved popular with the Israeli left, but selling Palestinian
beer to Israel is considered by members of Sharaka and
boycott supporters to be an unfortunate economic ‘‘normal-
ization’’ of the current conditions of occupation.
Postscript
Despite the Israeli infrastructures of closure that have severely
restricted movement between the West Bank and Gaza since
2007, events in Gaza have a powerful haunting effect in the
West Bank. The recent Israeli military onslaught in Gaza in
the summer of 2014 affects food practices of individuals in the
West Bank, as they read and saw images of corpses of camels
and cows rotting in Gaza’s streets and destroyed food factories
and water purification plants (Sherwood 2014), realizing that
basic food and drinking water for Gazans were in serious
danger. The attacks on Gaza served to fuel the food activism
of the Ramallah consumers and store owners around
GASTRONOMICA
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WINTER 2014
boycotting of Israeli food products, one of the few nonviolent
means of resistance available to them. Stickers with ‘‘16%’’
were stuck on Israeli products in West Bank stores by volun-
teers. These stickers are designed to draw consumers’ atten-
tion to the fact that Israel’s 16%VAT taxes on their everyday
food purchases are used to support the Israeli military, whose
bombing produced such immediate food crises in Gaza.
The bombing campaign also had a personal dimension for
participants of Sharaka, who were horrified to learn of the
death of one of their colleagues in food activism, Imad
Asfour, who had joined them at the Slow Food Terra Madre
in Italy in 2012. Like most of the 2,200-plus victims of the
Israeli 2014 bombing campaign, he was a civilian. The follow-
ing appeared on Aisha’s Facebook page on July 31, 2014:
‘‘Imad Asfour volunteered with us at the 2012 Slow Food/
Terre Madre event in Italy. He was killed by the Israeli Occu-
pation attack on Gaza. RIP Imad.’’
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Cristina Grasseni, Heather Paxson, and
all of the participants in the Reinventing Food workshop for
generative and generous exchanges about my paper and
theirs. I thank Alejandro Paz for years of conversations about
Taybeh beer and Israel/Palestine and Paul Manning for read-
ing several drafts of this article at various last minutes. Baha
Hilo and Kristel Leschert were fearless leaders of the olive
picking program where I was initiated as a ‘‘guerrilla gar-
dener.’’ I met Aisha Mansour on my first olive picking expe-
dition in 2007, and have admired not only her subsequently
finished, wonderful MA thesis on Palestinian agriculture
from Bethlehem University, but also her tireless energy in
the Sharaka movement. Every return trip to Palestine is enli-
vened by a visit with her. I first visited the Taybeh beer
brewery with Aisha, Peter, and Ehab in 2007, after our olive
picking initiation. Thanks to them and John, Jo, Lana, Mou-
nia, Nazaleen, and my other olive picking buddies for their
conversation in the olive fields, over Taybeh beer, and over
Facebook. Thanks to Vaidila Banelis for his good humor,
patience, and care while this article was being written.
notes
1. The Separation Barrier, of course, has many more implications. It
has dramatically reduced wage labor opportunities for West Bank
Palestinians in Israel, upon which many families had depended
since Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. Much
Palestinian land has been confiscated to build the Barrier itself,
which in places is 8 meters (26 feet) tall. A recent report in Al-Jazeera
notes, ‘‘When complete, 85%of it will have been built inside the
West Bank’’ (Al-Jazeera 2014). The Barrier has the effect of radically
reshifting the de facto border known as the Green Line, the armistice
agreement established in 1949 at the end of the hostilities.
2. The Oslo Accords were supposed to produce peace and self-
determination for the Palestinian people; they did neither. They did,
however, produce the Palestinian Authority, which has had subse-
quent control over its cities with the exception of East Jerusalem.
Critics point out that this amounts to outsourcing the occupation to
Palestinian police, who are largely funded by foreign donors. The
Accords have not stopped Israeli forces from reoccupying West Bank
cities. See Suad Amiry’s (2006) scathing account of the Israeli
occupation of Ramallah in 2002.
3. Palestine was admitted as a Member State of UNESCO in 2011
and granted ‘‘Non-Member Observer State’’ status in the United
Nations in 2012. However, it has few properties that one associates
with contemporary states; for example, the Palestinians do not con-
trol an airport, a seaport, or in any meaningful sense, their own
highways. Some form of peace talks have been held since 1993, but
little positive progress has been made toward defining borders. Since
2003, there has been much talk of the ‘‘two-state solution,’’ but since
Oslo, the number of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank has
expanded dramatically, with the number of settlers now numbered at
between 400,000 and 500,000, with the route of the Separation
Barrier extending to encompass them on the Israeli side.
FIGURE 5: 16%VAT tax goes to support the Israeli military.
photograph courtesy of fareed taamallah, sharaka – community supported
agriculture
FIGURE 6: Imad Asfour with Fareed Taamallah, Sharaka activist.
photograph courtesy of fareed taamallah, sharaka – community supported
agriculture
GASTRONOMICA
77
WINTER 2014
4. Arak is known in several countries in the Levant. It is similar to
Turkish raki, French Pernod, and Greek ouzo.
5. In this respect, Taybeh operates as Tuscan wine producers, who
export olive oil through their much better developed wine exporting
infrastructure.
6. A Canadian company from Prince EdwardIsland, Diversified Metal
Engineering Ltd., supplied and installed the brewing equipment. Yet
the negotiations between the LCBO and the Taybeh brewery, as of
2008, broke down over ‘‘price and reliability of supply’’ (Ross 2008).
7. http://seasonalpalestinian.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/
wintergarden/ (accessed 3/26/2014).
8. The Sharaka initiative does encourage Palestiniansto eschew Israeli
products in favor of slightly more expensive Palestinian agricultural
products. And consumers have to make more of an effort to purchase
local agricultural products, as opposed to the easily available Israeli
agricultural products, which are sold at the main market in Ramallah.
9. http://seasonalpalestinian.wordpress.com/ (accessed 3/26/ 2014).
10. http://seasonalpalestinian.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/
wintergarden/ (accessed 3/26/2014).
11. Dawson (2013) incorrectly identifies Sharaka as a local NGO.
12. NGOs operate differently in different contexts. Mansour agrees
with the arguments put forward by Arturo Escobar, who argues that
development interventions constitute another form of colonization
(Escobar 2005: 167, cited in Mansour 2012b: 94).
13. Slow Food had no budget for compensating Palestinians for their
arduous and expensive travel to Jordan to catch a plane; Palestinians
from the West Bank are not allowed to travel through Ben Gurion
Airport, close to Tel Aviv.
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Food has a special significance in the expanding field of global history. Food markets were the first to become globally integrated, linking distant cultures of the world, and in no other area have the interactions between global exchange and local cultural practices been as pronounced as in changing food cultures. In this wide-ranging and fascinating book, the authors provide an historical overview of the relationship between food and globalization in the modern world. Together, the chapters of this book provide a fresh perspective on both global history and food studies. As such, this book will be of interest to a wide range of students and scholars of history, food studies, sociology, anthropology and globalization.
Article
In this paper, I review recent contributions to theories of resistance and agency in the context of anthropology of Egypt. Drawing on ethnography conducted in Egypt after the January 25th Revolution and then after the election of Mohamed Morsi as President, I analyse the mass mobilization movement in Egypt called Tamarod. Tamarod led the effort to have twenty-two million Egyptians sign a call for President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood to step down, and mobilized an estimated twelve million to come on the street for a mass demonstration on 30 June, after which Morsi was removed from power. Rather than critique the notion of Tamarod as resistance, as a dupe of the Military, or as the legitimate voice of the Egyptian people and their agency, I argue that Tamarod made visible, and rendered available for political goals, a social infrastructure of communicative channels in Egypt. More generally, the paper shows concretely, and as concomitant processes, how agency is embedded in infrastructure and how infrastructure is upended in uprisings.
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The partibility of pigs and the circulation of their parts—from snout to tail, as the popular culinary phrase puts it—are routinely celebrated in communities committed to eating “local.” In this article, I explore how different kinds of totalities are configured in the practices of such “locavore” actors with respect to pigs and pork. Approaches as varied as Sausseurean structuralism, functionalist sociology, and actor network theory characterize their objects of inquiry as totalities constituted by relationships among component parts. So too the totalities in relationships forged via pigs become (mis)aligned with the totality of pigs as embodied, complex organisms. Such wholes from parts reveal the overdetermination (or fetishization) of the “connections” (between farmers and consumers, chefs and diners, humans and animals) extolled by “local food” actors.
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In the last two decades, the Arab–Israeli conflict has been considered a ‘low intensity’ conflict, based on a typology which simply takes into account the number of casualties. This typology is misleading, since despite relatively low numbers of casualties, on other counts the conflict may be seen to be in the process of intensification. In particular, a key area that has been gaining relevance is related to space and land: dispossession, occupation and destruction of Palestinian living space and what the author calls spacio‐cide. In this paper, it is argued that the Israeli colonial project is ‘spacio‐cidal’ (as opposed to genocidal), in that it targets land for the purpose of rendering inevitable the ‘voluntary’ transfer of the Palestinian population, primarily by targeting the space upon which the Palestinian people live. This systematic destruction of the Palestinian living space becomes possible by exercising the state of exception and deploying bio‐politics to categorize Palestinians into different groups, with the aim of rendering them powerless. The paper will demonstrate that spacio‐cide policy is the potentiality of a structure of juridical‐political delocalization and dislocation aimed at transferring the Palestinian population whether internally or outside of fluid state borders. This policy involves a combination of three strategies.
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This article offers an attempt to characterize the relationship between “taste” and “place” as cultivated and embodied in the production, circulation, and consumption of pasture-raised pork. I focus on the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and offer ethnographic evidence drawn from working with farmers, chefs and restaurant workers, as well as consumers at farmers’ markets to give substance to these discussions. The argument problematizes the category of “local food,” to interrogate the very notion of “place” and its many “tastes” (and other experiential qualities) with respect to the remaking and remapping of food production in the Piedmont. “Local food” is widely celebrated in this region, and pastured pork is a critical index of this “locality”; but here I ask how place itself is constituted, assigned concrete, experiential qualities, and so grasped in social practice. More than an attempt to specify the qualities of “the local” and their relationship with regional foodways, this article is concerned with the process that Lefebvre calls “the production of space.”