Update from Daoud Nassar
Dear Friends of Tent of Nations:
During this Holy week, as we read in the scriptures about the different incidents that happened in the last hours of Jesus’ Ministry on this earth, we are reminded what Jesus went through, starting when the Disciples left HIM, when HE was betrayed by Judas, and denied by Peter, when HE was arrested, beaten, and condemned to death. What emotional and physical pain HE went through. The same people, who were welcoming Him in Jerusalem as a king and savior were shouting “crucify Him.” HE was then sent to be crucified carrying HIS own cross. What a tragedy! The burden was too heavy to carry, but JESUS knew that the Cross was not the end of the story but the path towards the light of the resurrection which removed the dark clouds of Friday and overcame the darkness of the Tomb.
Today, in such depressing times here in Palestine, and in many places of the world, many of us are in the dark tomb. We should always remember to keep our ears open, to listen to our call and come out of our dark tombs, like Lazarus when Jesus called him. This is again a reminder that we are the people of hope and the people of resurrection, we should stop crying, the tomb is empty; HE IS NOT THERE, HE IS RISEN.
With all the challenges that we are going through today, the Tent of Nations continues to be like the city on the hill. We are blessed by the increased number of visitor groups, who come to see and then go back to tell the story of hope and steadfastness.
It is time to celebrate the light that is overcoming the darkness of our world, and the victory of Life over Death. Let us pray that the light of the resurrection continues to shine in your and our hearts always.
Let us continue the journey with faith, love, and hope. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Our next court hearing regarding the re-registration of the farm is on May 15.
Blessings and Salaam,
Director, Tent of Nations
A Message from the FOTONNA Steering Committee Chair
With other organizations committed to justice and peace in Israel and Palestine, FOTONNA seeks to stand in solidarity with the Nassars and others like them whose lives are being upended. Under the present troubling circumstances, that hope for justice and peace is seeming more elusive. It’s much more of a Good Friday than an Easter climate. We still see the innocent, like Jesus, suffering and dying and more senseless crosses erected. We still see crowds of people, like those gathered at Calvary, who are not willing to stand up against miscarriages of justice but either condone the injustice or stand silently by. Fear, deception, and the abuse of power still seem to rule the day.
But looking at the darkness of a Good Friday world through the light of Easter morning, we find a “yes, but” kind of message. Yes, things can still feel pretty dark, but the dawning of Easter morning reminds us the light of God is still shining. Yes, prejudice and hate still harm and kill, but we believe love ultimately will prevail. Yes, all that goodness incarnate in the life of one man was once knocked down, beaten down, nailed down, and snuffed out on a cross. But now that remarkable reflection of the heart of God has stood up again and is alive. That’s why Easter is such a decisive event.
As former Riverside Church pastor, Bill Coffin put it, “the point of Christ’s resurrection is to produce our own, putting love in our hearts, decent thoughts in our heads, and a little more iron up our spine.” Ever since the first Easter there has been a chain of saints down through the centuries persuaded that – as poet and slave abolitionist James Russell Lowell put it – truth will not be forever on the scaffold and wrong forever on the throne.
Today, we have Daoud and his family, refusing to be enemies, having the courage and conviction to stand up and prove that the power of love is stronger than the love of power. They are among the countless unsung heroes and heroines in history who face the difficulties, disappointments, and discouragements of life with incredible faith and fortitude. I am both humbled and inspired by the Nassars and others in the land of the resurrection who continue to work on building an Easter world out of a Good Friday climate.
Thank you all for standing up with the Nassars, praying for them, and holding them in God’s light and love in this Easter season.
Together in solidarity with you and the Nassars,
Chair of the FOTONNA Steering Committee
URGENT CALL FOR ADVOCACY ACTION
Please Act to Support the Tent of Nations. Your prompt action is needed.
We know that our voices are being heard by officials of the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. They have communicated that it is important for us to continue advocating for Tent of Nations with our elected officials in the weeks leading up to the Re-registration hearing on May 15, 2023.
Please contact your senators and representative—ask them to contact Secretary of State Antony Blinken to pressure Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to hold the May 15 hearing and complete re-registration of the Nassar family’s land.
Click here for the phone call script and email template for contacts with Members of Congress. We are also offering a template you can send to your Representative and Senators proposing sample language they could use for their communication with Secretary of State Blinken. Click here for that template. If you need further background information about the TON case, there is a Background document about the Tent of Nations, its work, and legal struggle.
Use these links to obtain the contact information for your Members of Congress:
House of Representatives: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
If you have heard Daoud Nassar speak, or visited Tent of Nations, share how that experience affected you.
We are grateful for all that you are doing to contribute to the search for peace with justice in our world, and in particular for your decisions to lift up the Nassar family and their work. The Nassar family and those of us at FOTONNA are greatly encouraged by the messages that you send to firstname.lastname@example.org about your advocacy actions.
As we witness the turmoil in Israel and Palestine, we sense the urgency of the situation for the Palestinians. The proposed changes to the judicial system in Israel, restricting the right of Palestinians to access the Israeli Supreme Court would have dire consequences for the Nassars. If the Committee refuses to re-register their land, their access to appeal this decision will be closed.
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED AT TENT OF NATIONS FARM:
Here Daoud and Italian volunteer Francesco, pruning olive trees. Francesco remarked that TON is “a magical place… I can’t think of a better, more fulfilling way to spend my vacation than being here.”
Let us persist in our Solidarity and Generosity
In the midst of lamentation and loss, we find ourselves saying as the Psalmist, “All our longings lie open before you, Lord; our sighing is not hidden from you.” We wonder how long this injustice can go on. But we also recall the Lenten stories of Lazarus being called back to life, and Ezekiel’s wondering whether dry bones can live.
And now, in this Easter Season we are called into new life: to persist in giving of ourselves by remembering the Nassar family in prayer, by sharing the TON story with others, by encouraging people to visit and volunteer at the farm, and by contributing financially to the rebuilding and repair of this place of peace and justice. We build with love “from the ground and up.”
Your financial gifts will be used to:
- plant wine grape vines and olive trees to replace those destroyed by fire,
- re-construct the volunteer campsite including lodging, water, electrical, and restroom access,
- repair water and electricity infrastructure,
- re-institute the children’s summer camp and short-term experiences for women at the farm,
- implement technologies needed to improve the farm’s sustainability and self-sufficiency,
- continue the legal struggle, and
- host long-term volunteers who provide a level of protection for the land.
We are grateful for your generosity.
FOTONNA Tour Planning and Finance Co-Director
Your prayers, presence, and gifts mean so much to everyone involved with TON! Thank you! Gifts to FOTONNA are not tax deductible under U.S. tax law, but are all used to support the crucial work of TON. Click here for donation information.
A POEM FROM BILL PLITT
While there were many special moments during the US Spring Tour of 2014 with Daoud Nassar, I want to share an experience we had on May 19 when we got word from Jihan, Daoud’s wife, about the early morning destruction of acres of trees and plants on the farm by Israeli Army bulldozers. That phone call started a reaction worldwide. This poem came from that incident. -Bill
A STEADFAST WITNESS – May 29, 2014
At the wane of the moon on May 19, early, early in the morning
Before the sun would rise,
Army trucks and personnel stole secretly in the night.
Trucks rumbling down the narrow road stopped,
Off-loaded large bulldozers which emptied their places
Upon the flatbeds on their journey to the ground.
Throttling diesel engines roared in the peaceful night’s cool air.
Soldiers stood ready throughout the valley where no one
Might stare or witness the destruction to be unleashed,
Except the lone shepherd who watched from afar.
Swift was the order to descend upon the unsuspecting fields
Of ripe apricots, tart apples, and grapes, whose leaves quivered
In disbelief of the advancing columns of machines and men.
Slashing, swiping, slicing their way through the rows upon
Rows of fruit-bearing souls, in merciless haste, the huge machines
With their hungry blades rolled upward in the valley gulping life
With each and every slash.
On and on they pressed with their engines in low gear, straining the motors,
And displacing the carefully crafted terraces built
With sweat, blood and tears, for years.
The moan of the voices in the valley, as the maturing trees
Grieved at their fate, and loss of their gift-giving fruits
Not to be offered to the waiting hands
From afar who would come to pick them soon.
As the trees lost their lives before the harvest, they were quickly buried by the Machines which dug one great pit, and covered
Them completely by stones, dirt and grit – not to be seen.
“Why the massacre of our trees?” the farmer shouted out as he gazed upon the empty fields, and mourned also what may lie still beneath the dirt.
“What was the bulldozer driver thinking and feeling
That early Monday morn? he said.
What did he tell his family he did that day?
What did he say to his daughter when she came home from school? When he asked her about her day and she said, ‘I planted a tree, daddy.’
What does he now say to her?”
And then, in the far corner of the naked land once hearty,
A lone fig tree stands, A Steadfast Witness.
-by Bill Plitt
We are Grateful to be on the FOTONNA road with you!
Our FOTONNA Steering Committee thanks you for all the ways you are leaning into the wind, walking with the Nassars on their journey for justice with “faith, love, and hope in action.”
FOTONNA Steering Committee Communications Team