The Tent of Nations centenary: “We refuse to be enemies”


by the Bethlehem team.  

On the 12th of May 2016, the Nassar family supported by visitors from around the Globe, congregated on a scenic hilltop farm on the outskirts of Nahlin village to celebrate their family’s connection to the land which stretches back in time to over 100 years.

People came from all over the world to participate in four days of activities that included workshops and group discussions as part of the 100 Years Celebration

Continue reading

Our Top 10 Posts from 2014

Happy New Year to all! We want to say thank you to all you follow our blog and read our posts. It’s you who help us get the word out about the injustices happening in Palestine and Israel.

The year 2014 was a difficult year with the assault on Gaza, the kidnapping of 3 Israeli teens, the closures & raids that occurred across the West Bank in the search for the teens. It was also a 6 year high for displacement from demolitions and human rights violations continued throughout the West Bank.  Here we shed light on the injustices that occurred and the faces of hope & perseverance through it all in 10 most viewed posts from 2014.

10. Final destination

photo of Selim Auda Jahaleen

Selim Auda Jahaleen is 107 years old. A Palestinian Bedouin, he is the oldest member of the Jahaleen tribe. Photo EAPPI/BG. Saltnes.

Israeli authorities announced plans, Nuwei’ma plans, to forcibly transfer over 7,000 Bedouin from the Jerusalem periphery/E1 area and Jordan Valley. Bedouin who have already become refugees twice, face imminent displacement again and the loss of their traditional way of life. Demolitions of homes and property are the immediate result of these plans and affect families such as Selim’s.

9. Responding to tragedy with smiles and sweet tea

The Daraghmi family after their home was demolished. Photo EAPPI/A. Batista.

The Daraghmi family after their home was demolished. Photo EAPPI/A. Batista.

Demolitions are a common occurrence in the Jordan Valley. Some homes & villages have been demolished many times. In January 2014, EAs went to the home of Nimer Hassan Hussein Daraghmi in Al Farisiya only 3 hours after his home was demolished. They found that in the face of tragedy & disaster, this family showed remarkable hospitality.

8. Humanitarian Situation Deteriorates at Bethlehem Checkpoint 300

Checkpoint 300. Photo EAPPI/S. Amrad.

Checkpoint 300. Photo EAPPI/S. Amrad.

Between 4,000 to 6,000 Palestinian workers cross the Bethlehem Checkpoint everyday on their way to work inside Israel. The overcrowding at this checkpoint is dangerous and raises serious humanitarian concerns. In May 2014, the situation deteriorated severely. Check out the fact sheet we created about it.  Although it’s from May 2014, it is not far off from the everyday reality of Checkpoint 300 and is still relevant today.

7. Archaeological excavations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron expand and destroy more Palestinian land

Ferial Abu Haikal discusses with Israeli soldiers. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

Ferial Abu Haikal discusses with Israeli soldiers. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

In February 2014, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) significantly expanded excavations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. We gave an update in June 2014 and showed how individual Palestinian families and their land are being affected. Excavations continue today.

6. Palestinian Christians find hope in Pope Francis’ visit

C. Holtan Pope Francis by the Wall in Bethlehem 250514

Pope Francis visited the Holy Land in May 2014.  With his stop at the Separation Wall he did not just leave an iconic photo for the media, but also gave a feeling of hope for Palestinian Christians that worldwide Christians recognized the injustices in the Holy Land.

5. The tribulations of Khaled Al Najar

EAs inspect the damage to Khaled's wheat harvest. Photo EAPPI/H. Tyssen.

EAs inspect the damage to Khaled’s wheat harvest. Photo EAPPI/H. Tyssen.

Khaled Al Najar from the South Hebron Hills has faced numerous trials and tribulations over the years due to the Israeli occupation and settler violence.  From burned crops and livelihood to being shot in his stomach to long drawn out court cases, an EA captured his heart wrenching story.

4. “I teach all the children at the school to keep their dignity.” ~Samia, Teacher, Cordoba School


As part of our 2014 Back to School series, we interviewed students & teachers about their challenges of going to school under military occupation and also their hopes & dreams that persist despite these obstacles.  Samia, a teacher in Hebron, shared some inspiring words.

3.Access to water in the Jordan Valley

Abu Dirra shows us the old larger Palestinian water pipe in Bardala which was severed.  Israeli authorities joined the smaller water pipe, allowing a smaller amount of water to be pumped to the village. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

Abu Dirra shows us the old larger Palestinian water pipe in Bardala which was severed. Israeli authorities joined the smaller water pipe, allowing a smaller amount of water to be pumped to the village. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

In 2014, we started a new placement in the Jordan Valley.  Our first team of EAs there took on the big task of raising awareness and advocating for issues in this contentious valley. In this article, they shed light on the injustices of water distribution. Although water is an issue all over Palestine, inequality is the worst in the Dead Sea area of the Jordan Valley, where Israeli settlers receive 10 times more water than West Bank Palestinians.

2. Houses, oranges, checkpoints, guns – kids draw life in Palestine

Sadee's drawing

When I saw Sadee’s drawing I asked her if the person inside the house was holding a plate of food. She told me that it wasn’t a house, it was a checkpoint, and that the person was a soldier holding a gun. Photo EAPPI/E. Kulta.

Art is a powerful tool for self expression.  Two EAs asked kids in Azzun Atma to draw their life in Palestine. What they got were powerful reflections from 7 and 8 year olds of living and going to school under military occupation.

1. The Tent of Nations – a nonviolent conviction to resist injustice and build hope for peace

Esther Goebel - Daher Nassar - Tent of Nations - Nassar on his farm, Jewish settlements in the background

The Tent of Nations, located just outside, faces constant threat of harrassment land confiscation from Israeli authorities and Israeli settlers. Yet, Daher Nassar refuses to give and is an inspiring example of peace and nonviolence. We wrote this article about him in February before 800 of the family’s trees were uprooted in May. This calamity did not deter him, however, and he continues to plant trees as a sign of hope.

The Tent of Nations – a nonviolent conviction to resist injustice and build hope for peace

Confiscation of Palestinian land by Israeli authorities is a common occurrence throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. In Bethlehem there is a man who, despite constant threat of confiscation of his own land, still believes in peace, hope – and resistance.

by Esther, Bethlehem team

Daher Nassar points to one of the surrounding Israeli settlements. Photo EAPPI/E. Goebel.

Daher Nassar points to one of the surrounding Israeli settlements. Photo EAPPI/E. Goebel.

Daher Nassar stands on his land near the city of Bethlehem, surrounded by blooming almond trees, the warm light of the afternoon sun glows as he looks down into the valley. The air smells like spring, there is no noise, no disturbance – everything seems quiet and peaceful.

But the 58 year old Palestinian knows better.  Peace is actually much further away when it comes to Palestine. Just look around his land, Nassar points out elements that block a future peace. He gestures to the south pointing to the Israeli settlement of Allon Shevut.  To the east, he gestures to another settlement, Neve Daniel. Finally, he turns north, where his eyes view big, white houses with red roofs surrounded by a thick wall.  This is Betar Illit.  With 40,000 inhabitants it is one of the biggest Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

These three settlements encircle Nassar’s farm.  “400 Dunums!” , Nassar explains proudly. The official papers declaring his family’s ownership of this property date back to the Ottoman empire. It is a massive piece of land. Moreover, the location of his farm on a 950 meter high hilltop above the village of Nahhalin is strategically important.

It is perhaps for this reason, the Israeli authorities declared Nassar’s land and the surrounding area as state land in 1991. According to Nassar, they never gave him a legitimate reason to do so. Nassar’s land is located in Area C, West Bank land under full Israeli civil and military rule.  The State of Israeli has declared approximately 34% of Area C state land, although doing so stands in contradiction to international law.

Nassar possesses ownership documents for his land from the Jordanian government registered between 1948 and. With these documents, Nassar began fighting for his land in the Israeli High Court in the early 90s.  More than 20 years and $100,000 later Nassar is still fighting.

He strictly refuses to leave his land. Nassar’s decision is not about money, nor about power. The Palestinian is a Christian and member of the Lutheran Church.  As a religious man, his decision is about showing resistance against the injustice of land confiscation, a problem many Palestinians face under the Israeli occupation.

Confiscation of Palestinian land is directly related to the expansion of Israeli settlements. Since 1967, Israeli settlements have spread throughout the West Bank, supported by the Israeli government and protected by the Israeli military.  Although Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory violate Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, today there are approximately 150 settlements and 100 un-authorized settlement outposts according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

“And the settlements keep on growing!” explains Daher Nassar. “The Israeli authorities told us they would confiscate our land, too, if we don’t cultivate it for three years.”

This is why Nassar spends as much time as possible at his farm, although his family actually lives in Bethlehem.

Nassar has created his own version of peace. One can find it everywhere on his farm, in red, yellow, blue and green and many different languages:

“With heart and hand we save our land,” reads one stone, “We never lose hope!” reads another sign.

Colorful paintings and mosaics decorate Nassar’s land, on which he cultivates almond and olive trees, grapes, apples and figs. Characteristic to Nassar’s farm is a sensible use of water and ecological way of cultivating, but even more important is the community of his farm where Palestinians work together with internationals and other volunteers.

Nassar invites people of all nations to stay on his farm and cultivate together with him. Thus, he named his project the “Tent of Nations”. The garden shower he built himself, a German engineer installed the solar panel, and Nassar built a compost toilet together with an Israeli settler from Neve Daniel.

“One day he just stood on my farm saying that he wanted to help,” Nassar describes and still seems to be surprised, “and so we ended up building the toilet together.”

Still the two men didn’t become friends. Dialogue between Israeli settlers and Palestinians is seen as taboo on both sides. Moreover, Israeli settlers frequently trespass on Nassar’s land, carrying guns and attempt to cut down his olive trees. But the Palestinian still follows his principle of nonviolent resistance. “If they cut one of my trees, I will plant 10 new ones!”, he says.  The Tent of Nations began almost 14 years ago – it takes more than cut down olive trees to put Daher Nassar out of his comfort zone.

But the next morning Nassar begins to gesture wildly and seems upset as he explains the most recent actions of the Israeli military.  The night before, the Israeli military put up a new gate to block the road into Nassar’s farm – this is not something new.  Israeli military frequently put up stone blocks, flying checkpoints, and spontaneous gates to inhibit Palestinian freedom of movement. This morning, Nassar finds himself blocked in massive, new gate, painted in the “Palestinian” colors red and green.

“I am not angry,” Nassar says, “no one can be angry for 10 or 20 years. The Bible says that one is supposed to love everyone.” It’s a tough task though. “If they would stop the settlements growing, peace could grow instead,” Nassar laments. “But what are they doing?” he asks and points to the settlements surrounding his land.

He shrugs his shoulders and waves good-bye as he makes his way to plant some new olive trees.  He has planted 300 in the past 3 days, 100 each day – as a sign of hope.