Tent of Nations is the Nassar family’s farm situated southwest of Bethlehem. I had the privilege of becoming well acquainted with Daoud, Amal, Jihan, and Daher Nassar during my two month stay, working alongside them in maintaining the farm.
This is not meant to romanticize the struggle of Palestinian people living under the apartheid regime of Israel, but rather to communicate what the family generously shared with me. Throughout our time together, they often spoke about their experiences as well as reasons for persisting with a message of peace, in alignment with their Christian religiosity. One conversation I recall was with Amal over a bowl of sage we were preparing for drying, when she emphasized their refusal to fight violence with more violence. Violence, of course, is perpetuated in many forms. The legal proceedings they have been continuously forced to court for—the Israeli government insists that this land is not rightfully theirs despite the documents they possess—and physical attacks by local settlers who have bulldozed, burned, and destroyed their land before the farm’s current international presence that affords them some provision of safety, are only a couple examples she described of their experiences with occupational violence, dehumanization, and attempted dispossession.
Daoud Nassar allowed me to document the farm’s story, the video which can be found below. The Nassar family has lived there for several generations, and despite the surrounding landscape of Israeli settlements and the progressive building of the separation wall that threatens to close them in, they refuse to leave their home. The land is their soul, Daoud said, and they cannot give away their soul.
For more information about Tent of Nations: https://tentofnations.com/
From my friend Omar Haramy who is the Director at Sabeel Ecumenical Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre, an excerpt from their recently issued statement:
“It has been 75 years since the Nakba, 57 years of brutal military occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 16 years since the suffocating military blockade of Gaza began. In light of this seemingly endless march of dispossession and death, armed Palestinian resistance groups initiated an unprecedented assault, including the tragic massacre of Israeli civilians. Responding, the Israeli government has engaged in airstrikes, indiscriminate bombing campaigns, and responsive actions that amount to war crimes—accompanied by genocidal rhetoric—against the civilian population in Gaza. Recent events have witnessed the tragic deaths and injuries of numerous Israelis and Palestinians, along with the abduction of civilians.
As we experience and attentively keep track of events as they unfold, it is pivotal to remember:
- Palestinians have been under attack, suffering dispossession and dehumanization from Zionism, for over 75 years.
- The continuation of Israel’s policies related to displacement, apartheid, and occupation has been facilitated by the backing of several dominant global powers, notably the U.S., which remains deeply involved in this conflict.
- In the past year, an extreme shift to the far-right in the Israeli government has seen an intensified and ruthless military occupation. The Palestinian people face violent expulsions, house demolitions, mass killings, sieges, and daily indignities.
- There are recurring, oftentimes violent, incidents where Jewish extremists and Israeli forces disrupt the right to freedom of worship, storming the Muslim Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, attempting to lay claim to the site, and intimidating peaceful devotees.
- The Israeli authorities have imposed exceptional restrictions on Palestinian Christians and churches, particularly during their religious festivities. Attacks by radical Jewish groups on Palestinian Christian communities and properties persist, with little to no action in response from the Israeli authorities.
- Over the years, the people of Gaza have felt the chokehold of a strict Israeli blockade by air, sea, and land, effectively trapping over two million individuals and depriving them of fundamental human rights. In recent days, Israel has prohibited all food, fuel, electricity, or water from entering Gaza.
- Palestinian prisoners, including children, are routinely assaulted, bound, blindfolded, and dragged from their residences in the early hours by Israeli occupation forces, often detained without formal charges or trial in military prisons for months or years. Peaceful protests against these policies, even in the form of hunger strikes, are met with harsh repercussions.
- Many Palestinian residences across various villages and towns are either set ablaze by Israeli settlers or demolished by military operations.
- Whole Palestinian communities have been forced to vacate their ancestral homes and lands, at times to facilitate Israeli military drills.
For 75 years, Israeli policies have revolved around displacement, military occupation, and the maintenance of an apartheid regime. The suffering over these years is significantly tied to the role of the international community in this turmoil, most especially the United States alongside global powers like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and others. By consistently supporting Israel, the U.S. and other powers indirectly further the ongoing violence. The unchecked military aid, diplomatic shielding, and enormous financial support from the U.S. play a part in bolstering Israel’s existing policies. Unwavering backing for the Israeli military only perpetuates the cycle of violence.”
Full statement can be found at: https://fosna.nationbuilder.com/sabeel_statement_october_2023