Spring 2015 Newsletter – Number 19
UPDATE FROM DAOUD – February 20, 2015
Greetings from all of us at the Tent of Nations.Because of your support, it is always exciting for me to update you about the status of the farm and the work we are doing here.
We started this year with new energy trying to make a difference in spite of the political situation here. As a sign of hope, we began by setting a goal of planting 5,000 trees on the farm, depending, of course, on how much rain we would receive in January and February. The necessary rains have come, and the cisterns are full. Already, international volunteers, visitors and local Palestinians have planted 1,000 olive, grape and other fruit trees.
This week we were joined by 25 Americans from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence who came to show their solidarity for the Tent of Nations after hundreds of fruit trees were destroyed last May. With their help, we managed to plant about 200 trees this week. It is wonderful to see how committed they are to justice in Palestine by coming and witnessing for themselves the current situation. No doubt they will return to their communities soon to relate their own stories to friends and families.
We are extremely grateful for all people who have sponsored and/or aided us in planting treesrecently. Thank you so much for all your support and solidarity.
We are continuing to work on some projects in order to further strengthen the infrastructure as we build a new kitchen and dining room for volunteers as well as renovate a cave. We will also begin two other caves very soon to provide greater comfort for volunteers.
In the coming months, we will be finishing the grey water project and also the conversion of bio gas from waste and compost.
At the moment, we have three long-term volunteers with others arriving soon for shorter periods of time. Volunteers are an essential element in restoring the land and infrastructure.
The Bent Al Reef Women’s Center is thriving. In September, a new group of women started participating in the women’s program and activities. The center is providing English classes for beginners as well as offering health education and art workshops. It is wonderful to see how keen and enthusiastic they are and eager to learn new ways of facing their daily challenges. An upcoming project in May is the final production of the recipe book that Jihan and the women have been working on for months. International volunteers are coming also to assist them in the process.
There is no change on the legal front. We still have no news to report on the recent court case following the destruction of the trees last May. As usual, they continue to postpone the decision which is very frustrating for us, but we channel our frustration into constructive activities which leads to a force for good.
Thank you for all your prayers, support and solidarity. Together we can make a difference.
Blessings and Salaam,
Daoud Nassar –Director Tent of Nations -People Building Bridges-
(Note from FOTONNA:)
Our message hasn’t changed much from the last Newsletter you received. As you can see, we continue to wait for word from the Israeli Military and Supreme Court justices on what they are going to do with the case brought before them months ago. When we do hear what is happening, we will send an update to you immediately; it will also be posted on our websitein the Updates section. If we feel that there is a need to activate our Emergency Response Plan (ERP), we will certainly let you know.
FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S DESK
One of our major efforts over the past several months has been to continue building relationships with local representatives in Congress and with State Department officials working in the Consulate Office in Jerusalem and at the department headquarters in Washington, DC. We have been received very favorably by both new contacts and by those with whom we have become familiar over the past few years. We do not need to start from ‘scratch’ with each visit, which is always a plus, as Tent of Nations has become a well-known entity by many.
During the Fall 2014 Tour in Minnesota, we were able to have breakfast with Congressman Keith Ellison and his Chief of Staff to discuss strategies and to identify key members in the House who might be receptive to our message. The purpose of such contacts is to maintain an open line of communication, not only during times of crisis, but on a regular basis in order to provide them with new information from the field based on Daoud’s messages and updates from visits to the land by FOTONNA Steering Committee members.
We ask that you help spread the message of hope that Tent of Nations represents to your own Senators and Representatives. Making them aware of the situation before a crisis erupts will make it easier for them to understand a request for their support when a crisis does arise. – BP
FALL 2014 TOUR
The tour in CT/MN/WI/IA in October/November 2014 was another gratifying experience. Bill Plitt and Beth Moore accompanied Daoud on most legs of the trip, and the response was, as always, overwhelming.
We want to thank each and every one of the individuals and organizations that worked for months ahead of time to ensure a smooth and successful transition from place to place with transportation, meals and housing needs all met in a seamless manner. Anyone who has ever tried to pull off something like this knows how much time and effort goes into the front end of the process. All of that effort paid off, and ‘hats off’ to all who played a role in the success of the tour. Thank you from all of us.
SPRING 2015 TOUR SCHEDULE
The Spring 2015 Tour will take place between April 16 and May 3 in Roanoke, VA, cities in Texas (Dallas, Austin and San Antonio), Indiana (Fort Wayne and Huntington) and Michigan (Tecumseh and Holland).
We will have the complete schedule available by the first part of April, and you can see details on the Upcoming Tour Information page of our website.
GROWING SUPPORT IN THE NETHERLANDS
February 21, 2015
From: Meta Floor – Tour Coordinator for Tent of Nations the Netherlands
Over the last years, a growing number of groups and individuals from the Netherlands has been visiting the Tent of Nations. These ‘Come and See’ visits led to a strong network of friends who are moved by the message ‘We refuse to be enemies’ and who are standing in solidarity with the Nassar family to work for justice. Last month, Daoud Nassar was again on a speaking tour in the Netherlands, where he spoke in local churches and at other meetings, like a meeting organized by Friends of Sabeel and Kairos Palestine.
FOTONNA WEBSITE UP AND RUNNING
We do hope you are all checking out the website every once in a while for new information. We are constantly posting new items in our Mediasection as creative and provocative new films, books and articles come out all the time.
We will also let you know when alternative tours that we can highly recommend come up (Take a look at the Alternative Tour Options page). Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) has two-three new tour options each year which you will find on our website (there is an upcoming one there right now). We are also encouraging you to look at an upcoming tour for young adults (ages 18-28) sponsored by Grace Presbyterian Church (see details below).
TWO NEW PAGES
We have added two new pages to our website. One is the Creative Writing/Art page. We are inviting individuals to send us short pieces that they have written about their personal experiences related to the overall Israeli/Palestine situation or more directly to the Tent of Nations. We would also like poetry, short stories, pictures of art work and/or some exceptional photographs.
The second page is the Today’s Voices page. We will have postings that reflect the day-to-day experiences of an individual ‘live’ – meaning that they post an article to us and we insert it on our web page within 24 hours of the actual experience. Anyone on tour or traveling on their own is welcome to keep us current on what they are seeing, hearing and experiencing as it happens. We can keep any postings anonymous if that is your wish.
We are also looking for any input from volunteers on the Nassar farm as they go about their daily lives. I know that people would love to hear fresh voices and get a feel for what it is like to live and work under some pretty unique circumstances.
So, if you are on tour now, planning on going on tour, or working as a volunteer and are reading this, please get in touch with Kay if you would like to make a written contribution:firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOTONNA also has a Facebook Page which might be useful for you to use as you reach out to friends in your own community. It is written and developed as a tool for communication to the wider international audience.
THE NAKBA MUSEUM
Bshara Nassar (Daoud’s nephew) has begun a new project in Washington, DC called the Nakba Museum Project of Memory and Hope. Here is a brief description of what he hopes to accomplish and a website that you can visit to find out more details.
The Nakba Museum Project of Memory and Hope aims to finally tell the Palestinian refugee story, one that has been silenced or ignored for far too long. We will be creating a virtual and physical space to feature these stories, using art, films and oral history. You can be a part of this story by helping support this project. Please visit our website to find out how you can do this by simply googling Nakba Museum Project of Memory and Hope. You will see samples of some of the art work already gathered, learn more details about the project and how to make a donation.
There will be a free Opening Exhibit that you can attend in order to see first-hand how the project has grown since its inception last year. We would encourage you to come and bring a friend. For more details, please click here.
GRACE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Young adults are invited to join a trip to Israel and Palestine, June 20 through July 1, 2015, hosted by Grace Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Virginia.
Young adults ages 18-28 are invited to be a part of this educational and inspirational pilgrimage. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, visiting the sites of his life and ministry, participants will reflect on what it means to be Jesus’ disciples and peacemakers in God’s world today.
The group will meet with local Israelis and Palestinians to learn about present-day life and to hear their hopes for the future. The trip will include a visit with St. Phillip Episcopal Church in Nablus to join in worship and help with their children’s summer camp. Plans also include a day working at Tent of Nations, a Palestinian farm and peace center near Bethlehem.
Price: $3,200 (includes round-trip airfare from Washington Dulles airport).
Contact Rev. Susan P. Wilder at email@example.com.
Registration deadline is March 15, 2015.
FOTONNA is encouraging churches from around the States to consider sponsoring a young person from your congregation to go on this trip with financial backing to help defray the costs of the tour. We need to encourage our young people to go and hear and see and then come home and share their experiences with the rest of us. So many of our meetings are filled with wonderful ‘older’ people; someone needs to be replacing us over the next few years, so think about who you know that might truly benefit from joining with others of their own age group on this particular tour and let Rev. Wilder know as soon as possible. Even if you can’t send someone, maybe you could come up with somescholarship funds to help with those who may need some financial support. Any amount would be welcome!
The year 2014 was a banner year financially forTent of Nations. In addition to a two-year, $26,000 grant from the Holy Land Christian Society, we raised almost $90,000 from other donations that paid for the following:
- Women’s Education Center
- Summer Youth Camps
- Two-year Tree Planting Project
- Cave Renovation
- Film Project Support
- Guest Speaker Fees for Daoud (all covered by organizations on tours)
- Travel expenses (all covered by organizations on tours)
- Consultant Fees for Daoud and Jihan
- Professional fees for our website consultants
- Printing/postage for 400 of Daoud’s book
- Bank Service Charges
- Miscellaneous Office Supplies/Equipment/Taxes
- Postage and Delivery
If you have any questions about this report or want more details, please get in touch with Kay:firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAKE A DONATION
Talking about finances…. We don’t usually make a financial appeal unless there is a true need to do so and only if it looks like we won’t make the Tent of Nations really modest budget goals for the upcoming year. We want to keep it this way, because it seems that the projects on the farm always have a way of being funded out of the hearts of people who have heard the Nassar family story and respond with a warmth and generosity that always amazes us at FOTONNA. We promise to be good and faithful stewards of your gifts, no matter what that gift is, and we are full of appreciation for your support and belief in this very just cause. Thank you all for your 2014 donations, tour planning, prayers and speaking out on this very important project. We know it will continue in 2015.
At our annual Advisory Council meeting held in November 2014, it was mentioned that 2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of Daher Nassar’s purchase of the land that started all of this. Through his wisdom of getting documentation of the purchase, he paved the way for what has become the ‘legal battle with no end’ that the Nassar family has been struggling with for so many years. That simple step, along with your faithful support, has helped stymy the Israeli courts in their efforts to claim the land as their own. Please keep up the good work
We will be working on a special Commemorative Year Celebration Tour in 2016, so get ready! We have hope that there will be good news to celebrate before that time. If we continue to speak up and speak out, the entire region might have reason to celebrate with us.
With deep gratitude for your friendship –
FOTONNA Steering Committee
Outreach/Advisory Council Liaison