I’ve just received a horribly upsetting email from Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian farmer who lives and works in the Palestinian territory just south of Bethlehem. The Nassar’s farm, known to many as “Tent of Nations” has just received nine demolition orders for essential structures on their property.
Some background: Daoud’s farm has been in his family for four generations; his ancestor registered his land with the ruling Ottoman Empire and the Nassar’s still have the original deed. In 1991 – one quarter-century later – the Israeli military initiated proceedings to expropriate the Nasser family farm, which happens to be located between two Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion Block.
Despite Daoud’s irrefutable proof of his family’s ownership of the land, the legal battle over it has stretched on for well over two decades – and the Nassar family has spent over $140,000 in legal fees to date. Up until now, their case has been essentially stuck in Israeli legal bureaucratic limbo.
In the meantime, the Nassar family has used their land to establish “The Tent of Nations” an inspirational center that provides arts, drama, and education to the children of the villages and refugee camps of the region. Daoud and his family have also established a Women’s Educational Center offering classes in computer literacy, English, and leadership training. (Many rabbis and rabbinical students are familiar with Tent of Nations as a primary destination for Encounter – a well-known educational program that promotes coexistence by introducing Jewish Diaspora leaders to Palestinian life.)
Those of us who know Daoud know him to be a gentle, honorable man, thoroughly dedicated to the cause of a just coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. (On a stone next to the front gate of the Nassar farm are the words “We Will Not Be Enemies.”) Given his personal circumstance, his innate compassion is truly inspirational – and that’s what makes his email all the more heartbreaking.
Please, please read it, send it to friends, and be prepared to act as soon as more news is available. I will provide regular updates.
Let us hope, pray and work to ensure that these unjust demolition orders are overturned.
Dear Friends of Tent of Nations all over the world
Today at 2.00 pm in the afternoon, 2 officers form the Israeli Civil Administration guarded by Israeli soldiers came to our farm and gave us NINE demolishing orders for nine (structures) we built in the last years without a building permit from the Israeli Military Authority. The demolishing orders are for: tents, animals shelters, 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 demolishing orders and the other was taking pictures with two cameras, Israeli soldiers were following them everywhere and pointing their guns on us.
The demolishing orders were written in Hebrew and I refused to sign receiving them. We have 3 days only to react against those demolishing orders. The timing for delivering the demolishing orders was plant properly and purposely on Thursday, in order to make it difficult for us to try to stop those orders by 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 contacted our Lawyer and he will write an opposition 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 demolishing 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 E-mail 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 and justice will prevail.
Blessings and Salaam,