7th Sep, 2015

Summer Newsletter 2015

Tent of Nations Farm
People Building Bridges

Summer 2015 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

It has been a while since you’ve last heard from us but we are still here working hard to achieve justice. We would like to share with you the latest news about the Tent of Nations farms, about the legal situation, about the challenges on the ground, but also about our hope and desire to keep moving forward in a very difficult political reality.

Political Situation
The political situation is getting more difficult. Land confiscation is going on and on for building new settlements or/and expanding the existing ones. The wall is continuing to be built, especially now in the Bethlehem area and is separating farmers from their own land. The settlements around the around the Tent of Nations farm are also expanding, making the Palestinian villages more isolated. According to the Settlement Watch article published on 23/07/2015:” The sub-committee for settlements for the higher planning committee of the military’s civil administration met on 22.7.2015 and it approved the construction of a religious school (Yeshiva) near Neve Daniel Settlement, which will be exactly very close to the Tent of Nations near where the road is blocked. If this would happen, the Tent of Nations would become more isolated which means more challenges for us.

Land Process
Last February the Supreme Court sent our case again to the Military Committee and the second demanded us to start a new process of reregistration of our land. We had to prepare the documents and a new land survey. The application was submitted on April 20th, 2015. Today, we are still waiting for an answer.

Recently, we found another demolishing order for a cistern. It is a frustrating situation for us, especially when we see the settlements are expanding and at the same time we have difficulties and restrictions working on our own land that we own since 1916.

We heard that new trees are also threatened to be uprooted and we are trying to stop that legally. We have to go through this very dark tunnel but still believing that at the end justice will prevail.

We will keep you updated regarding any urgent development about the land issue as well as the building of the new religious school close to the road block. Please do not take any action unless you hear from us. We will inform you if, what kind and when, actions are needed.

Agricultural Development
During the winter months, we prepared a big area of land and planted with trees. We are glad that we were able to plant 4000 new trees and replaced the ones that been destroyed last year. We will keep planting trees as a sign of hope for a better future.

We are watering the new planted trees once in a week just to keep a bit of humidity in the ground to help the trees survive the hot months. We might have to buy water.

We already prepared another area of land for tree planting. Our plan is to plant 3000 grape trees this coming October. The plan is to able to produce more grape juice and syrup. By increasing the farm production, our goal is to make the farm self-sustainable.

Special thanks to all people who sponsored or/and planted trees. Thank you so much in helping to keep hope alive.

Usually in June we have the apricot and the apple harvest, but last June we had no harvest, because of the destruction of our fruit trees last May. In July we had the almond harvest but it was a bad harvest this year. Today is the last day of the grape harvest. We are making jam and grape syrup out of the grapes. The fig harvest is still going on in September and by end of October, we will have the olive harvest. Our farm shop will be full of products from the farm.
Special thanks to all volunteers who came from different countries and helped us during the harvest season.

We started developing a better infrastructure for the animals. A new fence is being built around the animal farm. We are still working in developing places for the animals and we will buy more chickens, goats and sheep to increase the productivity, but also forpurposes, especially during our children summer camps.

Infrastructure
Energy:
Last spring the solar power system was expanded; new panels were installed as well as a new invertor. Now the system is producing 10 KW of electricity, which is enough for now. The only thing is that we couldn’t add new batteries to the existing old ones but we will wait until the old ones have to be replaced in order to buy more new batteries. Still we have a plan to install small wind mills for generating electricity and to charge the batteries during the night. After we stopped using our Diesel generator in 2009, we managed to save more than $45,000 for fuel expenses. Special thanks to all sponsors who helped in this project that made the farm in terms of energy totally independent.

Water:
Each year, we have been increasing our rain water collection capacity in order to have enough water for agriculture. We are working now on adding more water collection capacity in order to become independent in terms of water.

We renovated a new cave to be used to host more volunteers on the farm. Another one in the valley is under renovations as well as our new campsite with a space for a big tent, a sitting place and an outside kitchen.

We are still working on renovating the new community room for volunteers. Children decorated the walls with mosaic and wonderful paintings during the children summer camp last July.

The filtration system and biofuel project are still not completed. Those kinds of projects will help the farm to be self sustainable.

The children Summer Camp July 2015
From the 20th until the 31st of July we had our fourteenth children summer camp under the title: with heart and hand, we change the land. We had 25 international and local volunteers who worked with the children from Bethlehem area.
The Brass for peace group also participated and children made music on brass instruments. With this camp, and through creative workshops, our goal was to let the children discover their talents, focus on their positives and believe in themselves that they are able to shape their future.
On the last day of the camp, we invited the parents and friends to see what their kids were doing during the summer camp. Children were showing their parents around and the parents were encouraged by their own children. Special thanks to all volunteers who came and helped in making our children summer camp very successful.

Bent Al Reef Women’s Project
The Bent Al Reef Women’s project finished its year beginning of last June. It was great to see the fruits of the work that Jihan and other volunteers been doing. Many activities were done, like English, computer and other educational classes as well as art workshops. They worked also on recycling plastic bags, crocheting them into purses, bags and baskets as well as recycling broken glass into stained glass art pieces. The idea is to raise more awareness about environmental issues and to encourage those women to be active in taking better care of the environment.

The project will start again on the 7th of September 2015 after 3 months of summer break.

Guest Groups and Volunteers
Between March and August 2015, we welcomed many volunteers from different countries who came to spend some time helping on different projects. A special thanks to all who came and offered their time to help.
Last week we had to say goodbye to Johannes and Simon from Germany who spent a year on the farm, living in a cave and helping for a year. We appreciate the presence and the help of volunteers very much.
Volunteers are always welcome to come and help. For more information about volunteering at the Tent of Nations, please check our website http://www.tentofnations.org .

In the last months, many visitors came to see the Tent of Nations, to hear its story and challenges but also to learn about hope in action. It is an encouragement to see the number of visitor groups is increasing.
Special thanks to all people who came to visit the Tent of Nations and learn about the work we are doing.

Upcoming
On the 20th of October we will start the olive harvest and we are expecting some new volunteers to help with the harvest.
End of October, we will start planting 3000 new grape trees. Volunteers are welcome to come and help in planting.

From 9-12. May 2016 we are celebrating 100 years anniversary (one hundred years of existence on our farm). Friends are welcome to come and join us for a week of celebrations including different activities, fieldtrips and workshops. We will be sending an invitation very soon.
For more information, please check our website http://www.tentofnations.org and our face book page: Tent of Nations/Nassar Farm. We would love to see you.

Finally, we would like to thank you all for your prayers, for your support, and for your solidarity.

Blessings and Salaam,

Daoud Nassar,
Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges

19th Jun, 2014

Recent Media Coverage

The Tent of Nations has received a lot of attention worldwide over the past weeks, with lots of discussion on social media and some news coverage. Here are a few articles about the Tent of Nations:

The BBC featured Tent of Nations in an article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27883685

An article in the Israeli Newspaper Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.598272

29th May, 2014

Timeline of recent events

Here is a timeline of some significant events during recent years, that led up to the destruction of trees by the Israeli Military in May 2014:

In 2009, on two separate occasions, Israeli soldiers forced their way onto the property, conducting searches of family members and internationals and threatening to return with eviction papers. They never followed through on that particular threat.

In May of 2010, they did issue nine demolition orders to remove buildings, tents, animal sheds and restrooms which they claimed the family had no permission to build. The Nassars went to court to stop the demolitions, and no action was taken on the part of the Military courts.

In April 2011, a court decision was made, without the family’s lawyer present, to follow through on the demolition orders because of a plan to build an Israeli-only road nearby. The lawyer intervened and, to date, no action has taken place.

On February 14, 2012, as the family was working in the ‘Trees of Life’ orchard, volunteers found, in three different places (under rocks and tacked onto trees), papers with maps signed by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria (which is the Israeli Military Government) giving the family 45 days to appeal their claim to the land or the land would become ‘State Land’. This order covered one-third of the existing 100-acre farm. The family lawyer filed an appeal immediately. Many other Palestinian farmers discovered similar notices under rocks on their land. To date, there has been no decision on the appeal.

On Monday, May 19, 2012, demolition orders were posted on a portion of the farm in the valley in the same manner as the earlier notices. This time the authorities identified a cistern which has been in use for ten years that was scheduled to be demolished within three days. While the order was contested, the Court ruled in favour of the military, but no action has been taken.

Other acts of harassment have occurred on a regular basis. On May 5, 2012, civil authorities came and removed the barricade on the road that connects both the farm and the village of Nahalin to Route 60, the main north/south highway in the area. The next day, the bulldozer came and re-barricaded the road, thereby preventing any movement by local residents. Palestinians now, in order to travel between Bethlehem and the Nassar family farm, must travel through the villages of Nahalin and Husan. This is a burdensome detour for them as well as for the 20,000 villagers affected by these new regulations.

On December 13, 2012, military trucks and large jeeps entered the west side of the village of Nahalin and destroyed olive trees that grow between the village and the settlement of Beitar Elit in the west. Immediately after doing so, they drove to the east side of the village, near Daher’s Vineyard (the family property) and uprooted several fruit trees belonging to village farmers in addition to trees on the Vineyard.

On December 16, 2012, the Nassar family received notice that their appeal to the Military Court had been denied. The Nassars were given 45 days (January 30 deadline) to demolish the structures themselves or reapply for permits which will cost them $1,500 per structure. Under the ‘New Rules’ they will also need to submit a zoning plan and sign an agreement that, if the permits are denied, they will pay for the costs of demolishing the structures. The Nassars are trying to determine the intentions of the Israelis in the hope that access to the farm can be preserved. They have reapplied again for permanent registration of their land. As always, the family wishes to proceed calmly, constructively and legally.

On January 31, 2013, the family lawyer was told the following:

  • The family must reapply for all previous permits (13) including the more recent structures, such as: big tent, cistern near home, a cistern in the valley, and the office trailer. They must do this with the understanding that for those structures denied a permit, the Nassars must demolish them at their own expense.
  • They must submit additional land survey maps: one topographical map which shows the farm location in the region; two technical maps, one at 1/250 scale and the other 1/50,000 scale, which show the new structures and their locations and dimensions.
  • They must submit plans for sources of providing electricity and water to the land from the village and for provisions for gray water and filtration systems.
  • They must apply for approval/signature of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, certifying that the land is agricultural land.

All submissions were due by February 24, 2013; the family was able to meet each of the criteria set out for them. The courts have not as yet responded to the Nassars appeals or requests for building permits.

In January 2014, three “stop cultivation” orders were found on the land. The Nassars had their lawyers look into the situation, but the courts have not responded to these appeals, either.

In early May 2014, 1,000 dunums (250 acres) of land bordering the road leading to the farm and south of the nearby village of Nahalin were declared as ‘State Land’; this was land owned by other Palestinian farmers. The old blockade to the road leading to the farm was enlarged with additional piles of rubble and boulders, making it even more difficult to walk from the road to the Tent of Nations Peace Project site.

In late April, the Israeli Military authorities placed a warning on the land declaring that the trees were planted on “State Land” and, therefore, constituted a trespass and should be “evacuated”!

On May 5, 2014, the Nassar family filed an appeal with the Military Court against the order. According to the law, no demolition or evacuation is allowed once an appeal is filed and until a final verdict has been forthcoming.

On May 19, 2014, the Israeli Military bulldozed between 1,500 and 2,000 mature, fruit-bearing apricot and apple trees and grape vines growing in the lower valley of the farm and destroyed the terraced land that had been cleared for planting. There was no forewarning given, and this was an illegal act on the part of the IDF.

22nd May, 2014

Destruction of Trees

On Monday 19th May 2014, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) brought in bulldozers and destroyed between 1,500 and 2,000 mature, fruit-bearing apricot and apple trees and grape vines, in the lower valley of the farm.

This move was totally unexpected as their latest case for proving ownership has been in the Israeli Military/Civil Courts since February 2013. An appeal was also made on May 5 to protest a warning placed on the land in late April 2014 that declared the land as “State Land” and should be “evacuated”. There was no warning ahead of time about the impending destruction, so the Nassars were caught off guard with the destruction that took place. In addition to the destruction of the trees, the terraced land on which the trees were planted was also destroyed, left in a state of rubble that cannot currently be re-planted. The mature trees generate income from their fruit and would take years to re-grow, so this act represents an attack on the family’s livelihood as well as their property.

We invite you to sign this online petition and share via social media. You may also want to share this news with your friends or write to your MP about it

Please keep in touch with further news by liking/following Tent of Nations on facebook and Twitter where you are welcome to send the Nassar family a message of support. You can also sign up to the Friends of Tent of Nations UK email list to receive further updates. If you would like to hold a fundraiser or make a donation to the project then you can find details on the foton website

What happened to the Nassar family is an illegal and deeply unjust act and is representative of the oppression faced by Palestinians day in day out. We must ensure that Israel is accountable for its actions and that the Nassar family, who live by the motto ‘We Refuse to be Enemies’, is supported.

3rd Sep, 2010

Update from Daoud

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your phone calls, your E-mails and your concerns about the situation of the Tent of Nations. It is wonderful to see people like you who are committed to support the Tent of Nation’s struggle for justice.

Our latest news was about the legal actions we took in order to stop the demolishing orders for our renovations and structures. We brought this case to the Israeli Supreme Court and our appeal to freeze the demolishing orders was accepted. This freeze was also because of the pressure that came from all over the world. Your E-mails and responses made a big difference; thank you so much for your solidarity. The Supreme Court gave the Israeli authorities a time limit of 60 days, through the 3rd of August, to comment on our protest. The 60 days limit passed over, and we didn’t hear yet anything from the Israeli Authorities.

The demolishing orders are now frozen. According to the law, the Israeli Authorities are not allowed to take actions and demolish our structures before the Supreme Court makes a decision about that. In order for the Supreme Court to decide, the Israeli Military Authority has to respond to our appeal against the demolishing orders. At the time the Military Authority responds to the Supreme Court, our Lawyer will receive a time limit to appeal against whatever the Israeli Military Authority is giving for reasons why to demolish our renovations and structures.

This process is going to take between one and two years before the Israeli Supreme Court will come to a decision. The whole process is going to cost us more than $15,000 for legal fees. We are going on and defending our rights legally, even if it is hard, long and costly. We hope and pray that, at the end, justice will prevail.

We would like to ask you to stay in touch with us and inform others about our case. I will let you know if and when actions may need to be taken from your side.

Please keep us in your daily prayers. Thank you so much for all your support and solidarity.

Blessings and Salaam,

Daoud

Daoud Nassar
Director
Tent of Nations

3rd Jun, 2010

Great news from the Tent of Nations!

Dear Friends of Tent of Nations all over the world,

Our Lawyer appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to stop the demolishing of our renovations which is planned to take place this coming Sunday or Monday. I believe, because of all the pressure and the reactions from all of you through writing letters to your governments and to the Israeli officers, the Supreme Court of Israel granted an injunction to stop the military from taking any demolishing actions until the Supreme Court takes a decision. The military authority was given 60 days time to send their objection to the Supreme Court. This means that we will have to go for a trial in the Supreme Court.

We, and with all your prayers and support and with the help of your advocacy letters, managed to freeze the demolishing orders and to bring this case to the Supreme Court. It is a victory for justice even if it is a small one for now but it is a victory.

I want to thank you for all your prayers, for the many E-mails we received from you and for the solidarity visits. I will keep you updated about the development of this case in front of the Supreme court.

Our efforts together made a difference.

Thank you for your friendship.

Blessings and Salaam,
Daoud

June 1st Update – The appeal has been refused by the Israeli Military Authority and the demolitions are due to go ahead. Please contact your local MP, foreign office and Israeli embassy.

Dear Friends of Tent of Nations all over the world,

Two hours ago, I received a phone call from our Lawyers Mr. Sani Khoury and Mr. Jonathan Kuttab. they received a Fax from the Israeli Military Authority says that our Appeal against the demolishing orders of our renovations has been refused . They wanted to come today to demolish the renovations, but they gave us ” because of their generosity” another five days time, before coming to demolish those renovations. What can we do with five days time?!

At this moment, we have two options: the first one is to accept the situation as it is and just wait for the Israeli Military to come and destroy the place OR to continue the legal battle by bringing this case in front of the Supreme Court in Israel which might rule to freeze the demolishing orders until it takes a decision. Usually court cases like this will take a year or two, if the Supreme Court decides to freeze the demolishing orders. Bringing this case to the Supreme Court will cost us a lot of money and this will increase our financial burden.
We are defending our land from being confiscated for more than twenty years, we paid a lot for legal expenses, BUT without getting tired.

We are people who believe in Justice, we will continue our just struggle and will bring this case in front of the Israeli Supreme Court challenging the injustice we are facing. In the meanwhile we ask you to keep us in your prayers, to keep writing advocacy letters and to inform as many people as you can about our story. I am sure that our efforts together will make a difference. Thank you so much for this support and solidarity.

“But those who wait on the LORD, shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31).

Please find below the letter I received today from our Lawyer Mr. Sani Khoury.

Blessings and Salaam,
Daoud


Dear Mr. Nassar,

I would like to inform you that we received today a formal response from the Military Authorities denies our appeal against the demolition orders against the renovations that took place on your land. According to the Military Authorities they have decided to reject your appeal in light of the fact that your previous appeals against the demolition orders were rejected. As you are aware all of your previous requests to obtain a license were rejected using the excuse that “there is no current zoning plan in your area”. Zoning plans are submitted by the authorities themselves. In your case the authorities did not conclude any zoning plans for your area – indeed they stopped all zoning plans when it became clear that the Supreme Court would not confirm the confiscation of your land. When your land was being confiscated and given to the Newe Daniel settlement plans to build hundreds of building units were being set in place by the authorities themselves. When the confiscation was suspended and it became clear the land would not be given to the settlement, the zoning plans suddenly changed. In light of this fact you cannot under any circumstances obtain any license for any structure, building or renovation.

You have been given a “grace period” of five days before the demolition takes place.

The only action that can stop this is an injunction by the Supreme Court of Israel, which may or may not grant such an injunction under the circumstances.

Yours,
Sani

Please sign the petition here: www.ipetitions.com/petition/dahers_vineyard_demolitions

27th May, 2010

Dear Friends of the Tent of Nations all over the world,

At 2.00 pm this afternoon, two officers from the Israeli Civil Administration guarded by Israeli soldiers came to our farm and gave us NINE demolition orders for nine structures we’ve built in the last few years without a building permit from the Israeli Military Authority. The demolition orders are for: tents, animals shelters, the metal roof in front of both old houses, the restrooms (shelters) , a water cistern, a metal container and 2 underground renovated cave structures. One officer was writing the demolition orders whilst the other was taking pictures with two cameras. Israeli soldiers were following them everywhere and pointing their guns on us.

The demolition orders were written in  Hebrew and I refused to sign them.  We have only 3 days to react against those demolition orders. The timing for delivering the demolition orders were plant properly and purposefully on Thursday, in order to make it difficult for us to try and stop the orders through the Israeli court within 3 days, because of the Jewish weekend (Friday and Saturday). The idea is to make it impossible for us to act quickly.  I have contacted our Lawyer and he will write an objection and send it to the military court on Sunday morning. We hope to get a paper from the court through our Lawyer on Sunday morning to stop the demolition orders.

We would like to ask you to be prepared and alert for actions, if anything might happen. We will keep you updated and will guide you for actions but please forward this email to your friends.

PLEASE be prepared for actions… Thank you for all your solidarity and support.

They are trying to destroy our spirit, but we are determined to resist and overcome the Evil with GOOD. Justice will prevail.

Blessings and Salaam,
Daoud

Sign the petition here: www.ipetitions.com/petition/dahers_vineyard_demolitions

Palestinian Christian family counters harassment with openness

Visit to Tent of Nations

Members of the Living Letters delegation and EAPPI participants enjoy hospitality and fellowship at the Tent of Nations.

By Emma Halgren (*)

“A land is nothing without people, and people are nothing without a land.” That’s the maxim followed by Palestinian farmer Daoud Nassar. And when he speaks of the intimate connection between people and their land, he is talking from hard-won experience.

Read the full article at http://www.oikoumene.org/en/news/news-management/eng/a/article/1722/palestinian-christian-fam.html

7th May, 2009

Summer Youth Camps

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