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.
The peace talks started again a couple of months ago but still we don’t see any positive outcome. On the contrary, everyday more facts are created; more land is being confiscated for new settlements or expanding the existing ones and more and more Palestinian farmers are attacked by Israeli settlers. It is a miserable situation for us, and we still don’t see the end of this dark tunnel.
In our spring Newsletter we informed you about the 13 demolishing orders and the high court decision that denied our appeal for building permits. We didn’t give up; we applied again and started the whole process from zero. We had to do a new land survey after the previous one was not accepted since it is now more than 6 months old.
It is a frustrating situation for us, especially when we see the settlements are expanding on Palestinian ground and at the same time we are not allowed to have a tent or any structure on our own land that we purchased a hundred years ago. We are not giving up; we still believe that one day justice will prevail.
(We will keep you updated regarding any urgent development, and, if needed, we will ask you to take actions. Please be prepared for that in the form of a petition letter and sample letters to send to your contacts, government and to newspapers.)
During the dry summer months our big challenge was, and still is, to take care of the newly planted trees. We water them three to four times a week in order to keep a bit of humidity in the ground to help the trees survive the dry summer.
During the winter months, we managed to collect rain water and we managed to have all our cisterns full. Now after a long dry season, almost all our cisterns are empty and ready for the winter season. This year we managed with what we collected from the rain, and we didn’t have to buy water.
Beginning of October, we started to cultivate new fields in order to be prepared for planting. Our hope this winter is to plant 1,000 to 1,500 grape trees. The goal is to be able to produce grape juice and wine. In the long run, it is important to make the farm self-sufficient. Special thanks for all people who are sponsoring trees and for all who are coming to plant those trees.
We had the apricot and apple harvest in June, the almond harvest in July, the grape harvest in August and the fig harvest in September. We had a good harvest this year. Our farm shop is full of our products; we are trying to sell those products to our guest groups who are coming to visit the farm. The farm shop is a way to make the Tent of Nations, in small steps, financially self-sufficient. Upcoming is the Olive harvest that will start on the 21st of October.
Special thanks to all volunteers who helped us during the harvest season.
Our plan is to start developing a better infrastructure for the animals. We are planning to buy more chickens, goats and sheep to increase the productivity. The animal farm will be used for education, especially during our children summer camps.
We are planning to expand the solar power system; 14 new panels and 25 more backup batteries will make the whole system producing 12 KW instead of 4.5 KW. Two small wind mills are also planned to be installed. A company in Ramallah will do it, and we are still waiting for their proposal. Expanding the solar power system will make the Tent of Nations totally independent in terms of energy.
Each year, we have been increasing our rain water collection capacity in order to have sufficient supplies of water and to be able to develop agriculture and to support activities and programs on the farm. We started this summer with three different projects to develop the infrastructure. A new campsite is under construction with a space for a big tent, a sitting place and an outside kitchen. Showers and a compost toilet are also under construction. We already finished one new cistern which will provide the new campsite with water. Another new cistern is still under construction. We hope to finish it before winter. We started with renovating and expanding another cave towards the valley which will be used for providing more room for international volunteers, especially in winter time.
We are still hoping to get bio-gas out of the compost to be used for cooking, saving us from buying expensive cooking gas. Know-how is needed in order to do this.
Bent Al Reef Women’s Project
The Bent Al Reef Women’s Week took place from the 11th until the 16th of March. This year the theme was “recycling.” We started with a project to recycle plastic bags, crocheting them into purses, bags and baskets. We started with recycling broken glass into stained glass art pieces. The idea is to raise more awareness about environmental issues as well as to encourage those women to be active in taking better care of our country’s environment. The English, computer and agricultural training, as well as some art workshops, continued until the 20th of May.
After the summer break, the program started again at the beginning of September. It is really nice to see a group of enthusiastic women coming to the education center who are willing to learn and have the desire to shape their own future.
Guest Groups and Volunteers
There are currently now seven volunteers on the farm. More volunteers are expected to come for the olive harvest starting the 21st of October. Volunteers are a big support for the Tent of Nations. Volunteers can apply through our website by filling out a form.
In the last months, many visitors came to see the Tent of Nations to hear its story and challenge but also learn about hope in action.
Finally, we would like to thank you for all your prayers, for your continuous support, and for your solidarity.
Message from FOTONNA:
Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support, the Spring 2013 Tour was another huge success story. The tour included presentations in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia. Hundreds more heard Daoud’s story and were moved by the strength of faith shown by the Nassar family. This time, Jihan and the three Nassar children (Shadin, Nardine and Bishara) accompanied Daoud on part of the tour. At each stop, these three incredible youngsters impressed people with their poise and their talent (Shadin and Nardine are top-notch pianists – Bishara, however, couldn’t bring his tuba with him!). The highlight, if you could choose just one out of so many, was Daoud’s presentation at Riverside Baptist Church in NYC. This historical setting where Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu and so many other world leaders walked up the stairs to the pulpit and preached “truth” to us all seemed an unlikely setting for a humble Palestinian farmer. But, there he was, bringing tears to the eyes of his so-very-proud family as he preached about Love, Faith and Hope. He received a standing ovation after his sermon and walked out the same humble man he had been on entering the sanctuary. That is his greatest gift to all of us.
We extend our gratitude and thanks to all of the individuals who helped organize and pull together this tour under Bill Plitt’s guidance. There was an outpouring of Honorariums and shared travel expenses and individual donations. You are all very impressive!
And, we thought you might like to know that we have raised over $300,000 for FOTONNA/TON since November 2007.
From the Director’s Desk:
We are pleased to announce that Michael Phillips has agreed to join FOTONNA’s Steering Committee as our Director of Fundraising/Business Advisor. Mike is president of MJ Phillips and Associates LLC, an agricultural consulting firm that specializes in agricul-tural biotechnology issues. He was the Executive Director of the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources for the National Academy of Sciences and has extensive experiences in directing food and agricultural policy studies for congressional committees. He was on the faculty at Purdue University and served as a senior staff member for the Secretary of Agriculture.
Mike has M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State and Purdue University and a B.S. degree in agricultural economics and animal science. He is also a farmer and was raised on the family’s dairy and grain farm in northern Ohio which he still oversees as manager.
In May of 2013, Mike traveled with his church group from Springfield, VA to the Holy Land and had an opportunity to visit the Nassar Farm. He is joining this committee because of his strong interest in our work and his commitment to the land. Mike will bring his skills in business and agriculture to our mission as we support the efforts of the Nassars to build another way of living out our faith and in resisting the present Israeli Occupation in a nonviolent way. Welcome Mike!
Bill Plitt, Executive Director
Here is the schedule for Daoud’s Fall 2013 Tour. If you live anywhere near one of these venues, we invite you to attend and bring a friend or two. And, even if you have heard Daoud’s story before, there are new events unfolding every day that you need to be aware of in order to help us keep up pressure on the Israeli authorities and our own government so we can, together, preserve this unique and wonderful Peace Project.
Building Bridges of Love and Understanding
– Cincinnati – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy – (closed)
– Livonia – Thursday, October 24, 2013
St. Mary’s Basilica – 7:00 PM
18100 Merriman Road, Livonia, MI 48152 – (open)
– Detroit – Friday, October 25, 2013 –
Israel/Palestine Mission Network Meeting – (closed)
– Hartford – Sunday, October 27, 2013 – Tree of Life
Westminster Presbyterian Church –
Worship – 4:30 PM – Preaching Event
5:15-6:15 PM – Presentation
2080 Boulevard, West Hartford, CT 06107 – (open)
– Hartford – Monday, October 28, 2013 – Tree of Life
Unitarian Meeting House – 6:00 PM
50 Bloomfield Avenue – Hartford, CT 06105 – (open)
– Atlanta – Wednesday, October 30, 2013 – Tree of Life
Peachtree Presbyterian Church – 6:00 PM
3434 Roswell Rd., NW – Atlanta, GA 30305 – (open)
– Americus – Thursday, October 31, 2013
Koinonia Farm Visit – Day tour –
Evening Presentation – TBD (call: 423-341-2661)
1324 GA Highway 49 South – Americus, GA 31709 – Tree of Life – (open)
– Fostoria – Saturday, November 2, 2013
Hope Lutheran Church – 6:00 PM
151 West Center St. – Fostoria, OH 44830 – (open)
– Sylvania – Sunday, November 3, 2013
Sylvania United Churchof Christ – 1:00 PM
7240 Erie Street – Sylvania, OH 43560 – (open)
Washington, DC –
American University Presentation – Wednesday, November 6, 2013 – (closed)
– Fredericksburg – Thursday, November 7, 2013
St. Mary…Catholic Church – 7:00 PM
1009 Stafford Avenue – Fredericksburg, VA 22401 – (open)
– Richmond – November 8-10, 2013 – TBD – (open)
(contact for information: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daoud’s book is still available. Email Kay at: email@example.com or mail in a request to: FOTONNA – c/o Kay Plitt – 5621 N. 9th Road – Arlington, VA 22205. Your book(s) and an Invoice for $15 a copy will be mailed to you. Include your name/address/number of copies you want. An email address would be welcomed.
Tree of Life (TOL) is sponsoring a series of conferences taking place Oct. 13-Nov. 3. Details on our website at www.fotonna.org or at www.tolef.org. Daoud will be one of the guest speakers at three of the events.
Sabeel’s 9th International Conference:
“The Bible and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict”
November 19-25, 2013 in Jerusalem
This will be a stimulating learning experience and opportunity to meet like-minded friends from around the world. Find out more at:firstname.lastname@example.org.
(FOTONNA is an all-volunteer non-profit organization; donations are not tax deductible.)
Tent of Nations
-People Building Bridges-
P.O.Box 28, Bethlehem
Tel: +972 (0)2 274 30 71
Fax: +972 (0)2 276 74 46
Mobile: +972 (0)522 975 985