The Tent of Nations centenary: “We refuse to be enemies”

by the EAPPI Bethlehem team.  

On the 12th of May 2016, the Nassar family supported by visitors from around the Globe, congregated on a scenic hilltop farm on the outskirts of Nahlin village to celebrate their family’s connection to the land which stretches back in time to over 100 years.

People came from all over the world to participate in four days of activities that included workshops and group discussions as part of the 100 Years Celebration

Mrs Naser addresses gathering at Tent of Nations EAPPI/ J. OShea, 12.05.2016

 

Peace Brass Band at Tent of Nations EAPPI/J. O Shea 12.05.2016 “At Tent of Nations, our mission is to build bridges between people, and between people and the land. We bring different cultures together to develop understanding and promote respect for each other and our shared environment.” [1]

Palestinian culture was expressed through music, art and dance. Nasser’s children entertained visitors by playing local traditional instruments.

 

Members of the Nassar Family playing traditional music EAPPI/ J. OShea. 12.05.2016

Teenagers from the Baqoun Folklore dance group who performed a folk dance, did their part to keep local traditions alive on the hilltop.

Folklore Dancers at Tent of Nations EAPPI/ J. O Shea, 12.05.2016

1916 – 2016                                                                                                                  

The Nassar family have been cultivating this land since the day Daher Nassar purchased it back in 1916. Although they have papers dating back to the Ottoman empire, that prove their private ownership of land the Israeli Civil Administration declared a large portion of Nassar’s land and the surrounding area as ‘state land’ in 1991. Since that day Daher’s descendants have been struggling to stay on the land and have faced harassment from both settlers and soldiers. [2]

According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). “More than 85% of Bethlehem governorate is designated as Area C, the vast majority of which is off limits for Palestinian development, including almost 38% declared as “firing zones”, 34% designated as “nature reserves”, and nearly 12% allocated for settlement development. Less than 1% of Area C in Bethlehem has an outline plan approved by the Israeli authorities allowing Palestinians to build legally.[1]

Numerous structures on Nassar’s farm have pending demolition orders. The Civil Administration issued the orders on the grounds that the structures, some of them donor funded, lacked Israeli issued building permits. However, the family has been left with no option but to build illegally since the Israeli Civil Administration rejected the Master Plan submitted for the Nahalin area, in 2013.

One of the buildings at Tent of Nations. EAPPI/ J. O Shea 09.06.2016

The building above, which is under threat of demolition, serves as the main kitchen on the farm and includes a rain water collection system.

Work for a settlement or jewish school on the hillltop opposite tent of nations which was confiscated by Israel EAPPI/ J. O Shea 09.06.2016

What will be the future for this farm?

“Why am I treated differently than these people?” says Bishara Nassar as he watched the ongoing construction of an Israeli Settlement on the hillside opposite his farm. “Why can these people build, and I cannot” he asks.

The Tent of Nations lies in the midst of five Israeli settlements known as the “Gush Etzion Bloc” which cuts between Bethlehem and Hebron. Although Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory violate Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, today there are approximately 150 settlements and 100 unauthorised settlement outposts according to UNOCHA.

Despite the ongoing pressures to relocate, the Nassars continue the legacy of their grandfather: the Tent of Nations.

Tent of Nations plaque EAPPI/C. Wiks 10.06.2016

“Religion must bring people together, not separate people from each other. We refuse to be enemies.“ Dahoud Nasser says.

Tent of Nations. EAPPI/L. Martinussen 12.05.2016

“We Can only be human together”: This is one of the many positive messages promoting peace and hope on the ground at Tent of Nations.

More information:

EAPPI Blog: The Tent of Nations – a nonviolent conviction to resist injustice and build hope for peace

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