NOTES FROM DAOUD –
The political situation is tenser now; many people are waiting for what is going to happen at the end of this month. It is becoming a daily subject to talk about, although all political windows seem to be closed, and September is a bad month for the Palestinians. But, still miracles might happen. Our situation is becoming more critical after the confiscation of the hill west of the Tent of Nations. Towers for electricity were installed, roads were built to connect the settlements together, and more houses are being built in those settlements.
We have to expect the worst but still hope for the best. By the end of this year, we will finish almost all projects that will help the Tent of Nations to be self-sustainable and to function even if it will be totally isolated from the city of Bethlehem. All funds we received from our Friends of Tent of Nations North America were spent on developing the infrastructure as well as for the educational programs we are running – the women’s education center and the children’s summer camp. In terms of infrastructure, with the funds we received from FOTONNA, we built cisterns for rain water collection, increasing the capacity of rain water storage from 200 cubic meters to 650 cubic meters. We bought machines and equipment to help in cultivation and planting more fields to increase the land production which will help to bring the Tent of Nations within the coming years to be totally financially independent. The Tent of Nations farm started to produce crops, and our gift shop is full of products the farm is producing. The products are sold to guest groups. The wine press we received donated through FOTONNA helped us in doing the processing of the grapes much easier and more efficiently than ever before.
A first-aid facility has been developed on the farm, and next week a medical student is coming to give our five long-term volunteers a first-aid course for two weeks. Our maintenance workshop is still under development, and we hope to have it functioning very soon.
We are hoping to install a small wind turbine still this year to help in producing power, especially in the winter months. We are expanding with more long-term volunteers staying at the Tent of Nations between six months and a year, plus all the others who are coming for a short time. More electrical power is needed, and a small wind turbine for three KW will solve the problem. Another upcoming project is a filter machine to re-use the gray water for irrigation.
All those projects are making the Tent of Nations very soon self-sufficient, and it will help the project to keep going.
In June we had the apricot harvest camp; volunteers helped in picking the apricots and apples. We made jam, and now it is sold in our gift shop.
We had a very busy but also a wonderful summer with the programs we offered. The last two weeks of July we had the children’s summer camp. Over 40 children participated from the Bethlehem area, including the three refugee camps. Twelve international volunteers helped in offering creative workshops for kids including painting on stones, music, drama, story writing and others.
In August we had the almond harvest camp, and in September the grape harvest camp.
Regarding the women’s project, we had a break for three months during the school holiday, but even then Jihan had a couple of workshops during that time. We will start the courses again next week.
It is wonderful to see how the project is growing. We thank God for all what we were able to achieve in a very difficult and unstable situation. We thank you all for your support and solidarity.
In the summer months, 1,912 people came to visit the Tent of Nations from different countries, including Israel. We are happy to see more visitors coming to see and learn about our situation and also about our way of action.
With Gratitude – Daoud Nassar
The hoped-for Spring 2011 Tour, I’m sorry to say, didn’t materialize. There were lots of reasons why it didn’t happen, but we were at least able to plan a couple of events in the Cleveland area, thanks to Maryann and Doug Kerr. However, the highlight came in the form of some really unplanned-for visits with several Congressman, thanks to Todd Deatherage, one of our Advisory Council members. Daoud was introduced to Congressman Geoff Davis of Kentucky, who was not on our initial list of potential supporters of the Palestinian cause. Todd had encouraged Geoff to travel to the area, including a visit to the Tent of Nations, and this visit was an eye-opener for him and his fellow travelers. The time spent with Geoff lead to discussions with a few more Congressmen, and we hope to build more fruitful relationships with them as we seek more pro-active support for the Nassar’s work.
On this trip in April, Daoud was able to travel with Jihan and all three children (Shadin – 11, Nadine – 9 and Bishara – 6) on an almost month-long visit to Arlington, DC, Richmond, Cleveland and then on to Cincinnati, where Jihan’s family lives. We had the pleasure of hosting these wonderful people in Virginia and DC for a few days, taking them to several museums, marveling right along with them at the 3-D movies at IMAX theaters, basketball in the cul-de-sac and wonderful meals prepared in part by the two girls and enjoyed by all. Both the girls entertained us by playing some incredible piano pieces, and Bishara simply kept us all in laughter as he outmaneuvered all of us with his wit and style. We were sorry to see them take off for Ohio, but they are always in our hearts. Bishara was able to take along a ‘bunch’ of Lego pieces to add to his growing supply at home.
FINANCIAL UPDATE FOR 2011
As you read in Daoud’s note, they have been able to complete (or are in the final stages of completing) the major infrastructure projects we asked you to support last year. If you have forgotten what those are, please re-visit that report online. Every step along the way gets the family closer to self-sufficiency in the larger sense of the meaning. Continuing support for the Women’s Education Center and the Summer Youth Camp Activities is still ongoing, however. We hope you can continue to find it in your hearts to support these wonderful efforts to educate the women and allow the children in the refugee camps to have a summer respite from the tough living circumstances they face each day of their lives. You can use the Donation Form included in this mailing or found at the end of this email notice.
We have raised $11,000 in 2011 for these two ongoing projects, but there is always a need for more support as supplies are used up, food, water and transportation for the children at camp cost more and more, computer programs get outdated, more women sign up for classes and more computers are needed, the rent on the new women’s center keeps going up, etc. The growth in these projects reflects the desire for, need of, and success stories behind what the Nassar family does for their surrounding communities of neighbors and friends. The least we can do is to help them out; even small donations are more than welcome! Again, I say – if everyone who received this newsletter gave FOTONNA $20, we could work small miracles!!
FALL 2011 TOUR
We are preparing for Daoud’s Fall 2011 Tour which will take place in correlation with the Tree of Life Conference activities in the New England area. Daoud has been invited to present at conferences in Cape Cod, New York City, Cambridge, Springfield and Old Lyme between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6, 2011. He will also make a visit to the Washington area to meet with members of Congress and the State Department sometime between Oct. 24 and 28.
UPDATE ON FOTONN’’S ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP
Our Advisory Council met in March 2011 for the launching of this new endeavor in support of Tent of Nations and FOTONNA. We now have a total of 13 members, and a brief bio for each of the two new members is listed below. We had a lively discussion as members of the AC and Steering Committee got to know each other and made a commitment to support TON in whatever way was possible for each one of us. This is an amazing group of people!
Mai Abdul Rahman’s present focus centers on DC homeless youth, homelessness, gender equity and advancing a just resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli issue. She works on these issues through her affiliation with several associations, including the following: Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace (WIAMEP), American Palestinian Women’s Association, Love Thy Neighbor, BDS DC Metro, Sabeel DC Metro and Kinder USA.
Relevant Background: In the summer of 2006, Mai met Mark Braverman while at the Quakers Ramallah Friends Meeting House; she was working as a UN consultant at Bier Zeit University. He, a Jew, and Mai, a Muslim, sought the refuge of the Meeting House away from the depressive and awful sense of oppression that permeates throughout the Occupied Territories. At the end of the Sunday service, Mai and Mark struck up a conversation. They both remarked on how the occupation infects both the occupier and the occupied – both forced to either defend a senseless occupation or protest it. They also noted, sadly, that the young IDF soldiers are tainted for life after serving as the face and enforcers of the occupation.
Mai is well familiar with the impact of the occupation on the daily life of her family, who still lives in the West Bank. She never imagined, however, the sense of absolute loneliness and isolation one must contend with during the day-to-day intrusions and intersections with the IDF. She knows that people have no control and are completely dependent on the good will of the young Israelis who may, if they wish, stop them, search them, deport them or keep them waiting at will. Above all, as a mother, she cannot help but feel for these young men. She knows they will carry with them in their future day-to-day life all the oppressive measures they dictate to the Palestinians, whether as fathers, friends, brothers, neighbors or husbands.
During that summer of 2006, Hezbollah and Israel were embroiled in a deadly war. Mai witnessed firsthand how the Israeli occupation and military hegemony had morphed beyond politics into the realm of economic vitality for Israel. She heard and read accounts by Israelis of the losses assumed, or imagined, of future military contracts if Israel did not exact heavy casualties and a clear win in their war on Lebanon. Mai also learned that Israelis use the occupation as a marketing tool to advance their military sales. In addition, they have brought foreign and US soldiers to train in the Tulkarem refugee camp for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; they use the people, their land and their houses as a war training landscape.
Anna Baltzer is a Jewish-American Columbia graduate, former Fulbright scholar, the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, and an award-winning lecturer, author, and activist for Palestinian human rights. She currently serves on the Middle East Committee of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and is a member of the Board of Directors of The Research Journalism Initiative, Grassroots Jerusalem, and NewPolicy.org. Recently, she accepted the position of National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
Anna is familiar with TON and the Nassar family through her travels to the farm.
Relevant Background: As a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service in the West Bank, Anna documented human rights abuses and supported Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. She has appeared on television more than 100 times (including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she appeared alongside Palestinian presidential candidate and nonviolence leader Dr. Mustafa Barghouti) and lectured at more than 500 universities, schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, and policy institutes around the world with her acclaimed presentation, “Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photos,” and her full-color book, Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories. She has contributed to various other books on the subject, including Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation and Letters from Palestine: Palestinians Speak Out about Their Lives, Their Country, and the Power of NonViolence. She is also co-founder of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.
In 2009, Anna received the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s prestigious annual Rachel Corrie Peace and Justice Award and a Certificate of Commendation from the Governor of Wisconsin for her commitment to justice in the Holy Land.
Many thanks to all of you who believe in Peace with Justice for both Palestinians and Israelis. Let’s make it happen!!
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