Make Wine Not War

Many wine producers in the Middle East and North Africa that include Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, have succeeded in staying in business despite war, upheaval and militant religious opposition.
Many wine producers in the Middle East and North Africa that include Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, have succeeded in staying in business despite war, upheaval and militant religious opposition.

When Miguel Torres, scion of an iconic Spanish winemaking dynasty, described the impact of the Catalan quest for independence on his more than a century-old business in a letter to wine writer Andrew Jefford, little did he realize that he had put his finger on one of the current world’s most fundamental battles: nationalism and populism vs. inclusive multiculturalism. It is a struggle that is tearing countries apart and rewriting the international order.

Mr. Torres worried that in the unlikely case of secessionists succeeding in taking Catalonia out of Spain, his business would grapple with the same problem UK-based companies are struggling to come to grips with as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. The winemaker’s letter made Mr. Jefford realize that the culture of wine embraced the very principles that were being challenged by President Donald J. Trump’s America First principle and his opposition to multi-trade agreements, Britain’s Brexit, and nationalism and populism’s agitation against the other.

Mr. Jefford’s concept of Wineism that celebrates the existence of multiple identities, difference, trans-nationalism and the breaking down of trade barriers is as applicable to non-Muslim nations where alcohol is not religiously questioned as it is to the Islamic world that despite the faith’s ban boasts numerous winemakers.

At the core of the mayhem of death, destruction and brutal repression that has engulfed multiple Middle Eastern and North African nations is the failure of decades of autocratic rule both to deliver public goods and services and also to build inclusive societies that took account of religious, ethnic and regional differences and ensured that all segments of society had a stake.

In contrast to Mr. Torres’ business that has yet to experience what the rise of Catalan nationalism and Spanish nationalism will have on its business, many wine and alcohol producers in the Middle East and North Africa that include Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, have succeeded in staying in business despite war, upheaval and militant religious opposition.

In doing so, they wittingly or unwittingly testify to the very principles that are at stake in their region’s volatile transition and ultimately will need to constitute the basis for sustainable economic, social and political development.

In contrast to Spain whose territorial integrity is questioned but not seriously threatened by Catalonian nationalism, several Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, could emerge from the crisis having given birth to multiple new state lets. Yet, even without a redrawing of the region’s political map, international trade and inclusive domestic policies will be key determinants of its success. And irrespective of religious attitudes, wine culture may be one guide for the way forward.

Winemakers in Lebanon like Elie Maamari of Chateau Ksara and the daughters of General Joseph G. Bitar, who translated his passion for Italian wine culture into a business after returning from his post as Lebanon’s military attaché in Rome and Lebanese-born Syrian producers Karim and Sandro Saade, producers of what has been dubbed ‘the world’s most dangerous wine,’ can tell Mr. Torres what it is like to keep their business going under circumstances far worse than his worst nightmare as can Iraqi beer and arak producers who, after decades of war, saw parliament ban their wares in 2016.

Nonetheless, in Mr. Jefford’s reading wine says it all. Contemplating a bottle of one of France’s premier wines, Chambolle-Musigny les Amoureuses, he asks: “What is its identity? An Amoureuses? A Chambolle? A Côtes de Nuits? A red burgundy? A French wine? A European wine? A red wine? The answer, of course, is all of these. What is true for wines is still true for human beings. When I begin to enumerate my own identities, I soon lose count.”

Nowhere is this truer than in the Middle East and North Africa where the attempt by political and religious groups as well as opportunistic autocrats to impose a singular identity has brought the region to the brink. Iraq aided by Turkey and Iran may have halted Kurdish secession in its tracks but has done little to squash Kurdish aspirations in any of the three countries.

The same is true for the quest of Palestinians, another regional wine producer, for an independent state despite US-backed Israeli policies and Palestinian divisions that threaten to defeat a two-state solution as an option for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Similarly, the jury is still out on Shiite majority and Iraq’s ability to convince Sunni Muslims that they have an equitable place in the country.

Mr. Jefford’s notion of wine’s multiple identities goes to the core of another reality that autocrats and militants in the Middle East and North Africa conveniently brush aside.

“If you like wine, you love difference; difference should therefore be accepted as an absolute good. If you drink branded vodka, whisky or beer, you replicate the same experience each time. If you drink wine, you dive into a world of multiple differences – of vintage, of origin, of variety, of wine-making techniques, of ageing practices, of level of maturity. Wine teaches us the valuable lesson that nothing is ever truly the same twice, either in place or time, and that differences merit respect,” Mr. Jefford says.

Finally, the history of wine is the history of a world that was open to international trade and open borders. French wine historian Philippe Roudie noted that medieval Europe’s largest trade sector was wine. Today’s wines are its legacy. “Its sensual intricacy and refinement, and the prosperity of those involved in farming, creating and trading it, would collapse without international trade,” Mr. Jefford said.

Commenting on Mr. Jefford’s theory of Wineism, journalist Laura Lakeway noted that the traits he describes are valid among wine lovers irrespective of their politics. “I know people in the wine trade who are politically conservative. Yet while they might not lean to the left as Jefford does, they invariably share the generous spirit that unites wine lovers,” Ms. Lakeway said.

INTL POLICY DIGEST

  • Hind Abyad

    Wish they could ..2000 old first Christian Church in Jerusalem Palestine, desecrated
    by Zionists state.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spPeRpAegF0

    • vs

      silly cow, Faliestine is Occupied by Orabians Land of Israel. Hope this Church will be O.K. preserved like others

      • Hind Abyad

        Silly donkey brain the church is desecrated like others by dinghy filthy stinky Settler’s garbage deposal.

        • vs

          silly cow, who has the keys to the lock on the chain? Silly cow,
          if the church is so important and necessary for Christianity, where it can be seen?
          Why does not Christianity care?

          • Hind Abyad

            Zionists took the lock on the chain, Silly donkey.
            The anti-Christ made it a pissing ground and stinking garbage.

            2000 yrs old first Church, where the Apostles, Mary and James gathered, discovered by chance. Connard

          • vs

            who has the keys, silly cow? garbage can be cleaned like also in Lebanon, no arson or blowing up – no damage, silly cow. Why Christian Administration don’t care about this church, silly cow?

          • Hind Abyad

            It’s Zionist anti-Christ Administration.
            Cow your mother vise versa from hell

          • vs

            infosharmuta silly cow witch, can you shut up your mental masturbation on Jews already?

          • Arzna

            This message is to vs and Hind Abyad

            C’mon guys , this article is about wine not war . Why don’t you take a break and enjoy a drink instead of being at each other’s throat . LOL

          • vs

            I’m very sorry, Arzna, for this silly cow any topic is scene for her hatred of Israel. As for me, i don’t understand much wine, i’m crazy love grape juice and sure not war. Thank You very much You are friendly commentator

          • Niemals

            Hinds comments I can not read, but judging by vs replicas to her it seems to be a correct remark – they’re at each other’s throat ☻.

          • Arzna

            Lets not add salt to injury here by trying to side with one against the other .
            I think Ya Libnan is trying to provide us all with a platform to have civil discussions about our region and how to live and coexist together ,but most of the comments tend to abuse this opportunity by spreading more hatred . Very rarely do I spot civility in these discussions. This is a shame indeed .

            For people to coexist they should be respecting their differences and resolving their conflicts in a civil manner . This is the only way to live in peace

          • Hind Abyad

            They killed this place. Yalibnan provide a platform of insults harassment no Moderator, it’s trolls free for all.

          • vs

            You have monopoly to harassment, witch?

          • Hind Abyad

            Such pettiness from this stalker.. enough
            You have noble intentions but wrongly loosing your time.

          • Y K

            “I think Ya Libnan is trying to provide us all with a platform to have
            civil discussions about our region and how to live and coexist together”

            You may be reading too much into all of this (Ya Libnan’s comments policy seems to be mostly benign neglect), but it’s certainly hard to disagree with your second paragraph. On the other hand, I’m really at a loss looking for a way to resolve the conflict(s) in the Middle East “in a civil manner”. Unless missiles up Assad’s and Nassrallah’s a$$es could be considered “civil”. 🙂

          • Niemals

            Your claim about my “… trying to side with one against the other . ” is absurd.
            Non of them (Hind Abyad and vs) acept Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud declaration that Israelis and the Palestinian arabs have right to their own land, which by the way is my point of view too.

            Despite the fact that “vs” many times is against my point of view http://disq.us/p/1r9dst6http://disq.us/p/1r4m3a2
            I didn’t need to block him nor Danny Farah – when we shared our point of view about “Payback to Israel for sending us(?) hundreds of thousands of PLO?” http://disq.us/p/1r20xww or this http://disq.us/p/1r2ct3o

            You received Y K opinion “I’m really at a loss looking for a way to resolve the conflict(s) in the Middle East “in a civil manner”.”

            However I personally doubt that the conflict(s) in the Middle East being resolved in a civil manner.
            As long as beheading in Saudi Arabia is going on https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/abf7c8baba79acae39f579e8be5214c6d20e7e5f6c2f8ccc5d97831917a4ce37.jpg as well as https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/db55f2d17c953f9a26f503e27c59f4936bbe8b4d7d1c2913558ab441b67c91c2.jpg

            https://twitter.com/OnlineMagazin/status/983305477101621249
            YOU say “For people to coexist they should be respecting their differences and resolving their conflicts in a civil manner . This is the only way to live in peace”, do you think that they
            https://twitter.com/OnlineMagazin/status/982208586896949248
            https://twitter.com/OnlineMagazin/status/982209163273977856
            share your point of view?
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c682fc8690fc742fbd5e32693519b25c002b663acbaf5baebb1621eb1d96a963.jpg The ‘work’ of inhabitants of the Jewish illegal settlement, Yitzhar, that is known for its extremism and violence against Palestinians in the area.

          • vs
          • vs

            Stupid Niemals, Jewish illegal settlement? Are You fascist? Jews in Judea and Samaria are legal inhabitants, Orabians are illegal

          • Hind Abyad

            I had te misfortune to unblock this vs after one year to see same attacks.

          • Hind Abyad

            Did you watch what caused him to call me names.
            L’knisseh min alfein sini
            Did you ever see them follow a topic here?

          • Hind Abyad

            You’re blocked forever..

          • vs

            Your stupid hateful primitive brain is blocked forever, witch

  • vs

    Thousands of
    Christians celebrated Good Friday in Jerusalem, dedicated to the
    remembrance of condemnation to death, the suffering of the cross and the
    death of Jesus Christ, as well as the removal from the cross of his
    body and burial http://newsru.co.il/pict/slide/1025219.html

  • Niemals

    These poor stupid Palestinians, they let themselves to be used as a cannon fodder so the Hamas can shine again in the headlines of the international press.

    Meanwhile, after too many liters of wine 🍷🍷 🍷, Hamas internal security demands peaceful protest….
    Hamas internal security released a statement calling on all protesters to “avoid friction with Israeli occupation forces and collaborate with the organizers of the events.”….
    Look how many poor stupid Palestinians it takes to carry a injured man….
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ff21bc29939aa150bd132790c4897b92c9013014bab7f41619e5bf75d02041f6.jpg Palestinians men carry a man injured during clashes with Israeli forces at the site of a tent protest in support of Palestinian refugees returning to lands, on April 4, 2018. (Press TV – photo by AFP)
    Gaza is under siege, not under occupation as Hamas desperately trying to classify it so.

    Right now the mainstream press is preoccupied with the civil war in Syria, the Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont’s release on bail and not forgeting that Russia accuses UK and allies of concocting the attack on Skripal at UN Security Council.
    The events in the Gaza / Israel border will be news when further poor stupid Palestinians will loose their life for the Hamas honor.

  • Niemals

    Make no mistake, it’s not the only thing that ended in wrong hands….
    https://twitter.com/OnlineMagazin/status/988407866041229312?s=20
    Will this cultural asset be returned to the Christian community in Syria?