Tent of Nations
People Building Bridges
June 22, 2017 – Spring/Summer Newsletter We haven’t been in touch for some time, and I apologize for that. Daoud has been extra busy over the last several months with both travel and many work projects on the farm. He also organized (along with Meta Floor) a Celebration 101 in early May, marking 101 years of land ownership. In addition, there was a joyous high school graduation event for Shadin Nassar, their older daughter. We promise an update from Daoud very soon. Meanwhile, you will find a lot of information in this Newsletter that should be of interest:
- Spring 2017 Tour
- Welcome and Thank You!
- Upcoming Tours
- Volunteering on the Farm
- The Power Behind a Visit to Tent of Nations
- On Becoming a Sister City
- Voices from the Holy Land
- IFPB Tours
- Scholarships through IFPB
- Telos Group
Spring 2017 Tour:
Filled to Overflowing – Report by Beth Moore, Tour Coordinator
For me, this spring speaking tour (June 2017) with Daoud and his younger daughter, Nardine, was an experience of having our “cup runneth over.”
It began with three days in Knoxville, Tennessee, and our introduction there to the Palestinian-American community. The hospitality was wonderful, and testimonials of years of telling the story of Palestine in Knoxville humbled us. We were encouraged by the story of 15 years of the Knoxville Area Women in Black standing monthly vigil against the Occupation; in addition, the community has also formed a new chapter of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The warm reception to Daoud’s message of “Refusing to be Enemies” in three local church communities and the Howard Baker Center at the University of Tennessee was gratifying. Over 250 people were present at four venues during the two days. Learning about the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, gave us ideas for new contacts and locations for future tours. The local coordination of events by Bob Cantrell and his entire team was crucial to the success of the visit there.
From Knoxville, we travelled to Lexington, Kentucky, where we were welcomed by Father Dennis Knight and several of his community members for an event at St. Peter’s Catholic School. Father Knight recently returned from a study experience at Tantur Ecumenical Institute outside of Bethlehem, and he has been spreading the word in Lexington. A reporter from the local Catholic newspaper said to Daoud, “You really need to see the Pope.”
Our final stop (we thought) was Chicago. Daoud had been invited to be on a panel at The Justice Conference – an annual gathering of over 1,000 progressive Evangelicals. The theme this year was “Love Thy Neighbor.” Daoud, along with five other individuals, shared powerful stories of what that looks like in action. On the Sunday after the conference, Daoud spoke at three Sunday morning services at Parkview Community Church, an Evangelical congregation which has had leadership travel to the farm. Additional venues in the Chicago area were at LaSalle Street Church and Euclid United Methodist Church in Oak Park.
A very special invitation to Daoud from Rabbi Brant Rosen to share in a Torah study at his new congregation, Tzedek, in Oak Park, proved to be thought provoking and healing as we explored several old testament scriptures together – connecting them to our lives today, especially the relationship to land.
An unexpected opportunity in Milwaukee was engineered by FOTONNA’s Executive Director, Bill Plitt. A longtime friend of his, Ken Leinbach of the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, had visited Tent of Nations recently. He suggested we come to Milwaukee to see the Center and to tell the story to a group of friends in his home. One thing that always impresses me about Daoud is his ability to tell the story anywhere, to anyone, and under any circumstance. So there we were, sitting around the campfire, without technology or power point, and he shared the story with thirty people – among them a film maker, a civil engineer and a philanthropist. Always new possibilities and new opportunities seem to come out of nowhere.
Daoud and Nardine travelled to Cincinnati to visit with family before their departure for home, and Daoud fit in two more visits there that were arranged by Jim Beck of FOTONNA’s Advisory Council.
We could not do these tours without the help of local folks in each of the communities we visit. You do the hard work of securing the venue, handling the publicity and providing hospitality. We are so grateful for your support. Throughout the tour, we heard people say how “glad they were to have heard this story” and that they wanted to “go and see and work.” The tours always bring us a sense of hope, and we know that Daoud’s story of creative non-violent resistance gives hope to those of us in this country who are working for justice and peace in Palestine-Israel and beyond. – Beth
P.S. Over 2,500 people heard Daoud’s story firsthand; however, there is no way of knowing how many more hearts were touched through a video interview that was live streamed during the Justice Conference in Chicago. To view this video, try this link:
Daoud also asked that people send a postcard or two to a newly established address in the village of Nahalin for the TON Farm (where the Women’s Education Center is located). The receipt of mail at this address sends out the message that “We are here and are here to stay.” This is not an address for sending donations, however, so please just send a postcard every now and then with an encouraging message on it. Everybody loves to get mail!
The Tent of Nations Farm
Peter Cross Road #1
Welcome and Thank You!
We want to welcome all of the new contacts we have been able to add to our email address list. Churches, conferences, university and school settings, individual’s homes, strangers on the street – all of you have helped us add over 2,700 names to our list. Our Constant Contact “open” rate is generally around 32-34%, which is spectacular! Please continue to keep up-to-date and reach out beyond your comfort zone. You are our family of friends!
And, thanks for all of your generosity, both financially and spiritually, that keeps hope alive. Special thanks to the Olive Oil Ministry (OOM) team, the Holy Land Christian Society for its generous two-year grants, several individuals for their larger-than-life gifts, and all of the $10, $20, $50, $100 gifts from so many people that keep the bills paid, the paper and toner flowing, tour flights paid for, the Women’s Education Center kept open and thriving, the Summer Youth Camps made active and energized, cisterns dug, caves renovated and retrofitted, kitchens kept stocked, trees planted and watered, books printed and the flame of justice kept burning. You are investing in the most powerful motivator of mankind: love. Love thy enemy – simple as that. Thank you!
And, of course, one tour ends and planning for the next one begins. If you have an interest in inviting Daoud and the FOTONNA team to share the TON message in your area, please get in touch with Beth Moore at: email@example.com. We plan as far out as a year, two tours a year in April/May and September/October. The expectation is that you will help plan at least three to four events, get others to commit to one or two more, advise your groups that a Guest Speaker fee would be nice but that shared help with travel expenses would be essential. We like to concentrate Daoud’s presentations as tightly as possible in two or three different locations to minimize the time/cost of flights from place to place. So, let us hear from you!
We don’t often make a request for funds, but we are looking for partners who might join with others in the printing of two versions of the poetry booklet: Where I Am From? These poems were written by fifteen women when they attended a Creative Writing class at Jihan Nassar’s Women’s Education Center in Nahalin. They first appeared in a home-printed version in 2009. New interest arose recently, and we have prepared two versions for more formal printing: one with the poems written in English, Arabic and Hebrew; the second version has each poem translated into eight languages from the original Arabic – English, Hebrew, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Italian and Japanese. If your church or organization would like to offer a small donation to offset the initial printings, that would be very helpful. The printing/S/H cost is yet to be determined, which will, of course, determine the minimum donation we seek from those who would like to have a complimentary copy in return. The estimate is $6 for the short version and $10 for the longer version. Help with the dissemination of the booklets would also be appreciated. We hope to have the initial printing of 200 each completed by mid-July, and the final cost will be available at that time. Stay tuned via our website: www.fotonna.org.
Here is a small sampling of what you will find in these lovely poems:
English – Iman _____, 26
Where I Am From…
I am from an olive tree,
From a high mountain that shakes hands
I am from a place where water comes
Out of the earth
To the valleys and wadis below.
I am from a blue sky
That is decorated with birds;
I am from the sunshine,
That visits me every day,
I am from the smell of mud
That is saturated with blood and water,
Musk and air.
I am from a beautiful, soft land
That was scratched by the wolves’ claws.
I am from a house where you can hear
The athan, the call of the muezzin.
I can feel the love, the passion, and the harmony.
I am from a place where mosques
And churches cover me
Like a beautiful, warm dress
In a cold winter.
Like a balm cures my wounds,
Like pearls decorating my neck.
I am from the most beautiful place in the world,
The Promised Land.
I am from Palestine.
You can also, of course, make a donation and receive a complimentary copy of any of the following books:
- Daher’s Vineyard – Tent of Nations: My Father’s Dream (minimum donation of $15.00)
- Palestine Recipe Book (minimum donation of $10.00)
- Tent of Nations – We Refuse to be Enemies (printed by a group from The Netherlands – mimimum donation of $8.00)
Simply send a check, made out to FOTONNA, to:
c/o Kay Plitt
5621 N. 9th Road
Arlington, VA 22205
You will need to indicate which book(s) you would like in return for your donation on the memo line of your check. Books will be mailed out on receipt of your check.
You can also donate through our PayPal option on our website: www.fotonna.org. It would be appreciated if you add a small amount to cover the PP charge on each donation.
With each book we send out, the Nassar family message is reinforced. Thank you to all who have already engaged in this issue.
Daoud will also be making a wish list soon that we will be sending out. He only wants to ask for additional funds when/where most needed; the goal for reaching self-sufficiency gets closer each year. We are not there yet, however, so please stay tuned. Before that time, though, I can share one wonderful statistic with you: 85% of the land is now cultivated, planted with all kinds of fruit trees, olive trees, grape trees, other useful plants, etc. This is because of your generosity and the generosity of the OOM group whose profits are shared with TON. We cannot do this without all of you! Thank you!
Volunteering on the Farm:
Daoud is looking for volunteers who can bring skilled work to the Nassar family farm. Much of the work of planting and maintaining the land has been done through volunteers from all around the globe who do not necessarily need to be skilled in these areas; they just need strong backs and a willingness to work hard. The family is now in need of skilled workers, however, who can commit to a one-to-three-month period of time (or longer) in the following areas:
- Farm equipment maintenance (small engine repair, etc.)
- Kitchen/café maintenance (including cooking)
- Electrical wiring and maintenance
- Housekeeping/Gift Shop maintenance
- Carpentry/Construction/Metal work
- Farming techniques specific to a dry climate
The living conditions are fairly rustic, but the spirit on the land is warm and welcoming. There is: water (pumped from cisterns); electricity (solar power); compost toilets; and sleeping quarters ranging from modernized caves to large tent-like structures. The days will be long, but the evenings bring fun and shared laughter.
You will need to be in really good condition as the work will be physically demanding, and you will need to have personal insurance coverage. The weather has extremes of hot and cold. Think of this as a mini-Peace Corps experience!
Most volunteers help pay for their expenses on the farm (meals, etc.). Financial aid through Scholarship Funds to cover these costs and travel expenses will be considered based on need.
For more information and application forms, please go to:
Supported by Friends of Tent of Nations North America
The Power Behind a Visit to Tent of Nations:
In early June, FOTONNA received a new email address from Lyndon Harris. When he was asked how he came to know about TON, here was his reply (re-printed with permission).
On 6/13/2017 10:33 AM, Lyndon F. Harris wrote:
“Good morning Kay, I was blessed to visit Tent of Nations last month. We were on a tour with the Amos Trust (UK) and Martyn Joseph’s group Let Yourself Trust”.
“I was blown away. I want to go back”.
“I’m a forgiveness teacher here in the States, and after 9/11/01, in partnership with Alexandra Asseily who started the world’s first Garden of Forgiveness, I started a non-profit here in the US called the Gardens of Forgiveness.
The very minute I walked onto the grounds of Tent of Nations I wept because you all are living up to the highest standards of forgiveness: “We refuse to be enemies.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean we let people off the hook for doing bad things, and it doesn’t mean we give up our right to pursue justice. More importantly, it means that we refuse to give in to the desire for hate and revenge because that is poison to the soul.
I am so grateful for the work you are doing at the Tent of Nations. You are showing the world how to live in an unjust situation without letting the injustice define you. Well done! You are, and will remain, in our hearts and prayers”.
Warmly, Lyndon Harris
Lyndon F. Harris – 310.710.4322
Co-Director, Tigg’s Pond Retreat Center Zirconia, NC
Executive Director, Gardens of Forgiveness
www.tiggspondretreatcenter.com – www.lyndonharris.com
On Becoming a Sister City:
Who could have imagined a bond between Boulder, Colorado and the city of Nablus in the West Bank? Essrea Cherin, Board Chair, Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project, of course. It took some time and persuading and educating and arguing and persisting along with a deep belief in what they were doing, but a group of individuals finally convinced the Boulder Council (vote was 7 to 2) to support the concept of partnering with Nablus as sister cities and everything that might entail. How exciting it is to think of hands reaching out and meeting the hands of others in need.
A series of articles that a local newspaper did about the journey can be found at the following sites:
If you would like to get in contact with Essrea and find out more about how to work on this partnership concept with your own town/city, please get in touch with her at:
Board Chair, Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project
Voices from the Holy Land: (note from Deepak Kenkeremath)
The third year of showing six documentary films on various Sundays in March and April related to Palestinian issues was extremely successful. An average of about 150 people in attendance at the National Cathedral in DC was very gratifying.
If you are interested in putting together a program such as this, we recommend that you put plans into motion at least six months in advance. Getting five or more churches or organizations to support your efforts takes time, and you may need to educate people about the need for such a program. We would love to see this duplicated across the country. The footwork has already been done for you, thanks to the diligent work of a group of people who believe deeply in peace with justice for all Palestinians and Israelis. Film is a perfect venue for provoking discussion; go for it!!
Any organization interested in receiving the kit that demonstrates how to pull off this kind of effort may contact Kathy Drinkard, Chair of the Middle East Working Group at Grace Presbyterian Church (7434 Bath Street, Springfield, VA 22150) or Deepak Kenkeremath. Both can be reached at: GPCMEWG@cox.net.
For more detailed information, visit: www.voicesfromtheholyland.org
Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) has always been a strong supporter of Tent of Nations, and most of their planned tours include a visit to TON. Their next tour is scheduled for October 28- November 10, 2017; it will be their annual Olive Harvest Tour.
Two tours are in the works for July and November 2018. For more information and to become part of a growing number of people who have “gone and seen and come back to talk” about the reality on the ground, please get in contact at: www.ifpb.org
1628 16th Street, NW – Washington, DC 20009
202.244.0821 (PHONE) – 866.936.1650 (TOLL FREE PHONE/FAX) – Office@ifpb.org
Scholarships through IFPB:
The qualifications required for access to scholarship funds given to IFPB from FOTONNA are in the process of being refined. We are mostly looking at providing financial support for those individuals who otherwise might not be able to make the trip. Our funds will also be tied to some kind of volunteer work on the TON farm after the actual tour has taken place; an extension of anywhere from two weeks or more will be a requirement. Your expenses as a volunteer would be covered, and some support for your overall tour expenses through IFPB will be available, also. More details, along with an application form, will be ready by the end of June/early July; please contact IFPB at that time if you have any questions. You may also contact Kay Plitt at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Telos Group, along with IFPB, works closely with FOTONNA, and it was instrumental in getting two venues for Daoud to present his story in Chicago: The Justice Conference and Parkview Community Church. We are grateful for this partnership. Telos Group has its own tours, and you can find more information on these opportunities at:
The Telos Group
P.O. Box 33248
Washington, DC 20033-3248
Peace to you all – FOTONNA Steering Committee