Dear Friends,

It has been a while since you received our last update about the Tent of Nations and our struggle for justice.  We would like to share with you the latest news from the Tent of Nations, the situation on the ground, our concerns, but also our hope and how the project is moving forward.  We thank you all for your prayers, support and solidarity.

Political Situation:
The political situation is getting more difficult; settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are on a daily expansion.  Every day more Land is being confiscated for new settlements, or expanding the existing ones.  Land is being taken for security purposes, for settler’s roads and, of course, for the wall.

The Palestinians are busy with their internal problems, division, no concept/strategy for the future.  The Arabs are busy with what they call the Arab Spring, Europe with the financial crises, the United States with the elections and the Israelis are busy with creating more facts on the ground.  Many villages, east, south and west of Bethlehem, are slowly becoming isolated like small islands and are becoming disconnected from the city of Bethlehem because of the wall and the settlers roads.

Regarding the situation in our area, a new tunnel, by Al Khadr under Road 60 to Hebron is now completed and is used daily by Palestinians.  This tunnel will be the only access road from/to Bethlehem from the western side.  At this point, we still have access to Bethlehem, but we don’t know for how long.  We have not yet been completely alienated, but the farm is always preparing for independent living and self sustainability.  We are preparing ourselves for the worst but at the same time hope for the best.

Land Process:
On the 14h of February 2012, the Israeli civil administration (Israeli Military Authority) delivered three cultivation stop orders on specific areas of the Tent of Nations farm.  Those three cultivation stop orders were found on a fence, on a tree and at a stony wall on the fields.  We were lucky to find them on the same day.  According to those orders, a 45-day period was given to us to appeal.  Our lawyer responded immediately and managed to do all the paperwork in a couple of days.  It is a big frustration for us; we are on our farm since a hundred years, having all registration papers, keeping our presence there since 1916, the date of purchasing the land, still not enough to prove ownership of the land?!  What kind of world are we living in?!

Three months later and on the 21st of May 2012, the Tent of Nations received another demolishing order for a cistern.  We were given three days to act before the bulldozers would come and destroy it.  Within the three days’ time period, our lawyer managed to appeal and now we are going on another legal battle to protect the cistern.  Never give up hope; we believe that there is always a way out.

Still we are receiving demolishing orders.  On Sunday the 12th of August 2012, we received a new demolishing order for our big white tent (Ted’s Tent for all Nations) that is used for gatherings, children summer camp activities and for other encounter programs.  We used recently for the course about Inner Peace – Outer Peace – World Peace.  Although the Tent is not permanent, we put it up during the summer months and we put it down in winter.  We were given two weeks to appeal and our lawyer managed to do it.  Now we have different legal battles going parallel to each other:  the land case since 1991, the nine demolishing orders, the three cultivation stop orders, the demolishing order for the cistern, and the demolishing order for the tent.  With those legal battles, the financial burden on us is increasing.

At this moment, we are not sure about the next days and weeks.  It all depends on what the court will ask us to do and the decisions that might be taken.  However, based on our experiences with the court so far personally and by information about similar cases, the expectation is to have at least three court hearings before a decision, plus one or two sessions where we have to present an application for a building permit with a surveyor witness and opinion.  Altogether it might take a year or more.

On Saturday the 25th of August, we had, and for the first time after 10 years, a group of 12 Jewish Settlers who came on our property jumping over the fence.  We tried to talk to them but they ignored us.  They could be hikers but also they might have a hidden agenda.

The demolishing orders we received two years ago, on the 27th of May 2010, are still frozen for now.

In these difficult times, it is important to realize that international pressure has made a difference and will continue do so. With all the support, prayers, advocacy letters to embassies and state officials, petitions, solidarity visits to the land, and your solidarity E-mails, we managed to keep our hope alive and handle this injustice and trying to overcome our daily obstacles with steadfastness and a big desire to make a positive contribution and create a change. Our efforts together are making a difference.  We will keep you updated regarding any urgent development and if needed, we will ask you to take actions.  Please be prepared for that.

We are still in the course of re-registering the land again as demanded; however, the process is being made very difficult for us, and the prediction of our lawyer is that it is likely to take several more years.  Our lawyer continues to peruse our case, but the Israelis insist that our land case is a difficult one; more time is needed to study it.  This is hard to understand because they have already recognized our ownership of the land – we only need to re-register it again.  At the same time, this process is going to increase our financial burden.

We would like to ask you to stay involved and watch out for any time in which we may need international support to voice your solidarity.

Agricultural Development:
During the winter months, we planted again many olives, fig, almond, grape, pine and other trees.  When we plant a tree, we believe in the future; we also protect the land form the danger of confiscation but also we make the land green and productive.  With this investment in agriculture, our aim is to make the farm self-sufficient.  Now there are thousands of trees growing on the farm.  We are continuing cultivating land towards the valley, planting it with more trees and making it green.  Our aim every year is to cultivate more fields and plant them with trees; we welcome people to sponsor trees to be planted to protect the environment and to protect the land.  Green is the colour of hope; let us keep the Tent of Nations always green.

In the summer months, we were all busy in watering the hundreds of trees that were planted in the winter months. This is a big challenge for us; we have no access to running water, but we are watering the trees from the rain water collected in our cisterns during the rainy season.  Still not enough, but we are trying to manage.  Special thanks for all people who sponsored trees, for all who planted those trees.  Thank you so much for this support and solidarity.

We are always trying to develop a better infrastructure for our animals.  Our goal is to develop an animal farm with better infrastructure for animals especially in winter time.  The plan is also to have more animals on the farm.

Infrastructure:
As mentioned above, we must look ahead and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.  Our vision is to become self-sufficient as soon as possible, especially regarding energy, water and grey water.  We have recently made some important new steps towards achieving this vision.

  • Energy

The farm is now completely wireless.  Volunteers and visitors can bring their computers and not only have access to electricity but also access to the internet with the solar power system that produces 4.5 KW of electricity.  With the power that is produced by our solar panels, we are able to pump water from the cisterns, too.

Our goal is to install two small wind turbines for generating electricity.  We hope before the end of this year to install them on the farm to help the solar panels and produce more electricity.  The Tent of Nations is located on a hill, about 950m above sea level, which makes it a good place to use wind turbines.  The turbines will also be used for educational purposes.

  • Water

In our region, water is a continual concern and always limited.  As you know, we are not allowed to have access to running water, but we are trying to solve this problem with collecting rain water into water collection areas.  We are trying year by year to increase our rain water collection capacity in order to become self-sufficient in terms of water and to be able to develop agriculture and also to run our activities and programs on the farm.  Now we can collect around 650,000 litres of water, but our goal is raise this amount to 1,000,000 litres of water each year by building new water collection areas.  We are installing a filtration system to filter the rain water and use it as drinking water.

  • Recycling Grey and Sewage water:

We built 4 new showers for our guests and volunteers.  The shower water is being collected and reused again for watering the new planted trees.  We already started at the Tent of Nations to recycle the sewage water.  We are still using the collected rain water to water the new planted trees.  By recycling the sewage water, we are not only saving the rain water for our daily use, but also we will be using the grey and sewage water for watering the new planted trees.   We have now four compost toilets at the Tent of Nations and we are building another two new ones.  This will help the Tent of Nations to save a lot of water.  We are thinking of developing a way to get bio Gas from the human and animal manure.  This Gas will be used for cooking.

Bent Al Reef Women’s Project:
The Bent Al Reef Women’s Week took place from 26th until 31st of March 2012.  This year the theme was “Stress Management.”  In different workshops and sessions, women described their daily life, living under political, economic and social stress.  Women also discussed and talked about ways how to handle living under stress.  It was a wonderful opportunity for both Palestinian women and the international women volunteers.  They were able to learn a lot about each other and their cultures.  If you are interested in supporting this women project, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The English, computer and agricultural training as well as some art workshops continued until the beginning of June, then the summer break until the end of August.  We are planning to start again beginning of September.

  • Programs:

From 19-30 March, we had our first camp – the tree planting project.  Internationals and locals were invited to plant different trees.  By planting a tree, we believe in the future, and we protect the land and make it productive.  It was wonderful to see people coming together to make this experience.

From18-29 June, we had the second camp – the cave renovation camp and the apple and apricot harvest.  We started, with the volunteers who came to help in that camp, to renovate a cave in the valley as well as with picking the apples and apricots for making jam.  This jam is now sold in our gift shop.

From 9-22 July, we had our eleventh children summer camp under the slogan, “With heart and hand, we change the land.”  Fifty children from Bethlehem area and from three refugee camps participated in the camp.  Twenty international volunteers were part of the camp, too, and offered many creative workshops for children, like painting on stones and rocks, creative story writing, theatre, sport and music.  Our aim was to encourage those children and to let them discover their talents by themselves and to inspire them to play a role in shaping their societies.

From 6-17 August, we had the almond harvest.  Although the harvest was very bad, international volunteers who participated in that camp did work that is related to almond trees.  The international volunteers had also the chance to do fieldtrips and learn more about the land and the people.

Special thanks to all the volunteers who participated in our summer and harvest camps.

  • Educational Courses:

From 18-29 June and from 9-22 July, we had the first two educational courses for local and internationals at the Tent of Nations.  The theme was:  Inner Peace – Outer Peace – World Peace.

  • Upcoming camps:

From 3-14 September, the grapes and figs harvest camp.
From 29 October until 10 November, the olive harvest camp.

Guest Groups and Volunteers:
Right now there are currently three long-term volunteers from Germany staying for a year at the Tent of Nations. More others are for short period of time between one week and three months.  It is great to see the demand for volunteering at the Tent of Nations is increasing.  Volunteers can apply to volunteer through our website by filling out a form.  The work the volunteers are doing and their presence at the Tent of Nations are highly appreciated.  In the last two months, we were sad to say goodbye to our four long-term volunteers who spent a year at the Tent of Nations.  It was a learning year and a very rich experience for them.  We hope that they will contribute to their societies and be peace makers wherever they are.

Since January to August 2012, we had 4952 visitors who came to visit the Tent of Nations from different countries:   1275 from USA (including American Jewish), 366 from the Netherlands, 781 from Germany, 574 from Palestine, 204 from Sweden, 195 from the United Kingdom, 158 from Austria, 541 from Italy, 74 from Scotland, 328 from Israel, 48 from Norway, 40 from Belgium, 38 from Canada, 10 from Japan, 30 from Spain, 124 from Switzerland, 4 from New Zealand, 75 from France, 62 from Australia, and 25 from Luxemburg.  More guests are expected to come to visit within the next four months.  This has greatly exceeded our expectations, and we continue to welcome visitors.  You know you are always welcome here.

Upcoming Projects:
The situation for us is expected to be more difficult; there will be no easy access from and to Bethlehem when the wall in our area is finished.  Of course, this injustice will not continue forever.  We believe one day the sun of justice will rise again.  We hope before the end of the year to install two small wind turbines for generating electricity, to finish with the filtration of the grey and sewage water, to increase the land production and to build one more new cistern.

If you would like more information about Tent of Nations or if you would like to plan a visit, support a project or to come as a volunteer, please visit our web site –www.tentofnations.org – and e-mail us at dnassar@tentofnations.org.  We are always happy to hear from you.

Finally, we would like to thank you for all your prayers, for your continuous support and for your solidarity.

Blessings and Salaam,

Yours,

Daoud Nassar
Tent of Nations
People Building Bridges
10September2012

Daoud Nassar
Director

Between October 27 and November 17, 2012, Daoud will be making over 30 presentations
in nine different states and 14 different cities.
Many of the presentations will be Closed Events as they will take place
at a wide variety of university and college settings; however, the following list includes
Open Events that we invite you to attend if at all possible.

Daoud Nassar – Fall 2012 Tour Schedule – Open Events – as of 9/8/12

Place/Date/Time

Place/Date/Time

Place/Date/Time

Place/Date/Time

Cornerstone Fellowship Chapel
348 N. Canyons Parkway
Livermore, CA  94551

Sat., October 27, 2012

7:00-9:00 PM

First United Church of Christ
900 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA  95060

Sun., October 28, 2012

10:30 AM

Resource Center for Non-Violence
612 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA  95060Sun. October 28, 2012

6:00-8:30 PM

Palestine Israel
Advocacy Group of Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20016
Perry Auditorium
(7th floor)

Thur., November 1, 2012

7:00 PM

Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Avenue
McCleary Chapel
Indianapolis, IN  46227

Sun., November 4, 2012

2:00-4:00 PM

Anderson Auditorium
Edgewood College
1000 Edgewood College Drive
Madison, WI  53711 

Mon., November 5, 2012

7:00 PM

First Presbyterian Church
300 West Wayne Street
Fort Wayne, IN  46805

Thur., November 8, 2012

7:00 PM

Tree of Life
St. Michael’s Church
225 W. 99th Street
NYC, NY 10025

Sat., November 10, 2012

1:00-5:00 PM

First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis, MD
171 Duke of
Gloucester Street
Annapolis, MD  21401

Sun., November 11, 2012

8:30 AM – Worship Service
9:30 AM – Education Hour
11:00 AM – Worship Service
7:00 PM – Public event

William Jennings Bryan College
721 Bryan Drive
Dayton, TN  37321

Mon., November 12, 2012

8:00-10:00 AM
and
Tue., November 13, 2012

8:00-10:00 AM

Emmanuel Baptist Church
1109 Cooper Road
Jackson, MS  39212

Wed., November 14, 2012

7:00 PM

Fondren Presbyterian Church
3220 Old Canton Road
Jackson, MS  39216

Thur., November 15, 2012

7:00 PM

 

Tent of Nations
-People Building Bridges-
P.O.Box 28, Bethlehem
Palestine
Tel: +972 (0)2 274 30 71
Fax: +972 (0)2 276 74 46
Mobile: +972 (0)522 975 985
E-mail: dnassar@tentofnations.org
E-mail: info@tentofnations.org
www.tentofnations.org

 

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