December 2016 Newsletter

December 8, 2016

in News

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Tent of Nations.  Almost the year 2016 is coming to an end; it was a difficult year for our region, with more downs than ups.

We would like to share with you the latest news from the Tent of Nations, the situation on the ground, our concerns, but also to share with you hopeful stories, how we are trying to move forward, despite of all the challenges we are facing.

Political Situation:

The absence of peace talks was used to create more facts on the ground.  More land is being confiscated for new settlements and/or expanding the existing ones.  The wall is continuing to be built on Palestinian land, separating Palestinians from their own communities and from their own land.  The confiscation of land and the building of new settlements and the wall will make it more difficult for the Palestinians to establish their own State.

Also, in our area the situation is getting more difficult.  As you know, the main access road to the farm is closed since 2001.  Visitor groups have to stop their buses close to the road block and then walk to the farm.

Late May 2016, the settlers started with the construction of a new religious school close to where the road is blocked.  This school is going to isolate us more and more, and the main road to the farm, after they finish building the school, may be closed completely.  If this would be the case, we should go legally trying to prevent that from happening.  We will keep you posted and will inform you about any new developments regarding the road.  At the same time, we would like to have more people coming to visit the Tent of Nations, because the international presence at the Tent of Nations is making a big difference.

We try to be optimistic and hope for the best; at the same time, we have to be realistic and be prepared for the worst.

With the end of this year, we complete 25 years of a legal battle with the Israeli authorities with more than $180,000 spent on legal expenses since 1991.  But the positive outcome is that we are still on the farm, and we did not lose any part of the land.  Today, and after 25 years, we will continue this struggle for justice without giving up, will never give up, and we will keep working hard on different levels to prevent our farm from being confiscated.  Although we are going through many challenges, the candle of hope for justice is still burning inside this dark tunnel, and it will lead us out one day.

Agricultural Development:

For the years 2016 and 2017, our aim is to continue developing the farm in terms of agriculture in order to make the farm self-sustainable, especially after the continuation of building the wall that will disconnect us from Bethlehem.  Since the struggle is about land, the more positive facts that we can create on the ground will make it more difficult to confiscate the farm.  By developing agriculture, we want to encourage more farmers to do the same, especially if they start to see that agriculture could become a source of income.  Our hope is to make the farm financially self-supportive through the selling of its produce.  We believe that this is the healthy way to grow.

Between January and March 2016, and with the support and help of many of our friends in different countries, we were able to plant 3,000 new grape trees (a new Vineyard).  In August 2016, we started cultivating a new area using big bulldozers to level the ground and to build terraces.   We finished the first part, and now we are clearing stones and rocks from the fields, building supporting walls and will be cultivating the ground a couple of times preparing it for new planting of trees.  We made a space for 5,000 olive and other trees.  Please pray for rain

The almond, the fig and the grape harvests went well this year, but we had a bad olive harvest.  We are glad to see the fruits of many hands that came and worked together; the farm is producing almonds, figs, apricots and apples.  Out of the fruits, we are making jam that is now available to sell in our farm shop.  For the first time after 80 years, the farm started to produce wine in bigger quantities.  We had the first wine tasting in May during our 100 years anniversary celebration.  We hope that by selling the produce, the farm will be able to support itself by itself.  That is also why we plant more trees.

Special thanks to all people who sponsored and/or helped in planting trees on the farm this year.  Thanks also to all who came and helped during the harvest months.

Energy:

The solar power system for generating electricity was expanded in February of 2015, and we have now 34 solar panels that produce 7-8 kw electricity.  We have 25 storage batteries which were installed in 2009 for the night use.  Those batteries are not enough to fully meet our night use needs, however, especially if we have many people staying on the farm.  We will get more batteries to increase the storage capacity, but are waiting until we can replace the old ones.  We are still hoping to install two small wind turbines for generating electricity to help charging the batteries in the night hours and also during winter time.  The Tent of Nations is 950m (3,000 feet) above sea level – more than enough wind.

Water:

Each year, we have been increasing our rain water collection capacity in order to have sufficient supplies of water and to be able to develop agriculture and to support the Tent of Nations activities and programs on the farm.

Waste water treatment unit:

By the end of December, we will finish the second and final phases of recycling the waste water.  The system will treat the bad bacteria in the waste water so that the recycled water can used for irrigation.

Composting and Bio-gas Fuel:

We are still in the process of building four new compost toilets.  Compost toilets are saving a lot of water.  We hope by the end of this year that the biogas fuel unit will be installed and will produce cooking gas out of the compost.

Aquaponics System:

We started the project this year; the system is for raising fish.  The fish tank is connected through a pipe to three open tanks filled with stones and sand.  When the water is flowing from the tank into the three open ones, it gets clean from the stones and sand and the fish waste stays there and the water continues to flow into the water tank and from there it is pumped back as clean water to the fish tank.  With this system, we can raise fish to eat and grow vegetables in the open tanks.

Greenhouse:

From the heavy wind, the green house was destroyed.  We started fixing it, and it will be ready very soon for planting vegetables in the winter time.

Animal Farm:

The work on developing a better infrastructure for animals is a continuous project since last year.  We stopped many times because of demolition orders, but we continue in small steps.  The animal farm project is important for educational purposes during the children’s summer camps by bringing nature into the life of children; it is also needed for self-sufficiency.  We want to grow our own food and eat from what the farm is producing.  We hope by March 2017 to finish this project.

Educational Garden:

We started this project last year.  The plan is to develop a place for children who come to the children’s summer camps to learn about the different trees and plants.  Most of our children are coming from the cities and do not know that much about plants and trees.  Through learning by doing, we are trying to introduce that to the children.  The first phase is done, and we will continue with the second phase.

TENT OF NATIONS EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMS

100 Years Celebrations:

In May 2016, we celebrated 100 years of existence on the farm with 60 people attending the five-day celebration.  More than half lived for the whole time on the farm, and we had 150 people on the final day, the day of celebration.

The five days included different workshops on conflict resolution, arts and crafts, biblical studies, sharing of stories and volunteering on the farm.  Eight nationalities attended, and all participants had a wonderful time together.  The whole idea was to bring people together, to celebrate, to share our stories, to learn and to inspire each other.  Many said that it would be nice to make it as a fixed program every year.  From May 1-4, 2017, we will have the 101 years celebration; we would love you to be part of this special event.  For more information, please check our website.

Bent Al Reef Women’s Project:

The women’s empowerment project in the village started offering activities and programs for this year beginning in September, and it will run until June (a full school year).  We want to enable women who have children or siblings at school to use a couple of the morning hours to be part of those activities to learn, to become empowered and also to be active positively in their own society.  The Program and activities are there to serve and encourage women to learn new skills, discover their talents and interests, develop their characters, socialize, visit and interact and exchange thoughts and ideas with local and international women.  A Palestinian Recipe Book was produced by the women and is for sale through Friends of Tent of Nations North America (FOTONNA).  See their website at:  www.fotonna.org.

Volunteers:

This year we had 54 volunteers who stayed and helped on the farm between three weeks and three months and 226 volunteers who helped between one day and one week.  Volunteers are a big support for the Tent of Nations.  A special thank you for all who came and helped during 2016; thank you for your support and solidarity.  It is important to say that since we started to have an international presence of volunteers (since 2002), attacks from settlers have been stopped; international presence at the Tent of Nations has made a big difference.  We hope to double the number of volunteers for the year 2017.  If you have an interest to come and help, go to our website:  www. tentofnations.org, fill out the form and send it to us.  We would love to hear from you.  There will be some options for scholarships in 2017; please keep an eye out for this information.

Come and See, Go and Tell:

Many visitors came to see the Tent of Nations this year to hear its story and challenges but also to learn about struggle and hope.  We had 6,043 visitors from all over the world this year. Visitors are a big encouragement to us and are a big sign of solidarity.  Please encourage more people to come and visit the Tent of Nations; we hope to double the number of visitors in 2017.

TENT OF NATIONS EVENTS AND PROGRAMS FOR 2017:

  1. Tree Planting Campaign from January until the 30th of March – Our goal is to plant 5,000 olive and other trees. We will be doing a campaign, asking people to sponsor and give trees as a Christmas gift.
  2. Tree Planting Camp from March 20-30.
  3. Celebrations 101 from May 1-4.
  4. Apricot/Apple and Cave Renovation Camp from June 19-30.
  5. Children’s Summer Camp from July 10-22.
  6. Almond and fruit harvest camp from July 31 until August 11.
  7. Grapes and Fig harvest camp from August 28 until September 8.
  8. Olive harvest camp from October 23 until November 3.

We would love to see you participating in one or more of our programs and activities.  For more information, please check our website.

The message of peace and love that started from Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago should continue to shine out from here.  Our journey for justice will continue with faith, love and hope, carrying our cross, refusing to be enemies, transforming our pain into a positive energy that is able to change hearts, lives and build a better future.  Have a wonderful Christmas celebration and a blessed New Year 2017.

Blessings and Salaam,

Daoud Nassar,

Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges


Christmas Message 2015

January 18, 2016

in News

Tent of Nations Christmas Message:

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Bethlehem! It is something special to celebrate Christmas in the place where the WORD became FLESH.

More than two thousand years ago, the shepherds who were also living under occupation came to see the newborn KING. Hopelessness, frustration, and fear didn’t stop them from making this risky trip to COME and SEE. They had to overcome many obstacles in order to reach Bethlehem. Their journey didn’t end but started there; they went back and shared the message of hope with all people.

Today, our situation in Palestine is not much different from the situation of the shepherds 2,000 years ago. We are still living in hopelessness, in frustration, and in fear. Many questions are left open and without answers.

With the end of this year in sight, we complete 24 years of legal battle to prevent our farm from being confiscated. Still, we are people who believe in justice and we are proud to follow a different path of creative and non-violent resistance. We will overcome negativity with positivity, darkness with light, and hatred with love under our slogan: “We refuse to be Enemies.”

The message of the Tent of Nations for the year 2016 is to continue to work on transforming hopelessness, frustration, pain, and fear into a positive power that is able to change us and make a difference. With faith, with love, and with hope, we will continue our journey for justice.

We wish you happy celebrations and a wonderful new year, a year full of hope, love, and the fulfillment of your dreams. We ask God to renew your and our strength for this coming year to carry on and continue to work together for justice and peace.

The Tent of Nations is inviting you to COME and SEE and then GO and SHARE the message of hope with all people, just as the shepherds did 2,000 years ago.

Blessings and Salaam from the land that is thirsty for peace and justice.

Daoud Nassar & family
Tent of Nations
-People Building Bridges-
dnassar@tentofnations.org
www.tentofnations.org


Tent of Nations Farm

People Building Bridges

Fall 2015 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We would like to wish you a blessed Christmas and holiday season with your loved ones. In this deteriorating political situation in Palestine, we find comfort in thoughts of love, hope, faith, and justice. We pray that, wherever you are, you are able to celebrate in peace and prosperity. We will continue to always keep our eyes on the light at the end of this dark tunnel.

In the past two months, the political situation in Palestine has been rapidly worsening. There have been many attacks throughout the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel, as well as in in south of Bethlehem where there is a big settlement bloc called “Gush Etzion”. New ground and flying checkpoints have been set up and continue to make movement for Palestinians very difficult. In addition, existing checkpoints have been periodically closed and have prevented people from getting to work. The reality on the ground is becoming worse.

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the construction of a new religious school (Yeshiva) has been approved outside the Neve Daniel settlement near where the roadblock is located. If they go through with the plan, we fear that the Tent of Nations would become more isolated. About one and a half months ago, we received two demolition orders for two caves on our property. We appealed them to the court and are now awaiting an answer. Then, two days ago, we received three more demolition orders for main structures on the farm. We were given three days to appeal; therefore, we are now focusing all of our energy on this new problem over the next few days. This is very frustrating for us, particularly as we see new construction every day on the existing settlements surrounding us. We will keep you updated about any developments there and will let you know if and when actions are needed.

We are working on renovating more caves for volunteers to live in, especially in the cold winter months. In the month of November, we experienced many rainy days, the water of which we collected in our cisterns. We are still working on being completely independent in terms of energy, using only our solar panels and, when necessary, our diesel generator. We are working on projects that will help make the farm self-sustainable.

At the end of October, we finished planting 2,000 grape vines for our new vineyard. With the help of our volunteers, we managed to plant everything in one week. Within the next month, our plan is to plant more trees. Thank you to everyone who helped us to plant our new vineyard. We have also planted tomatoes in a small garden near the animal farm. By continuing to plant and cultivate crops, we keep our hope for a better future alive.

Our olive harvest was a huge success. We harvested the olives and have made oil out of them. We had ten volunteers who helped with the harvest and we had a great time with them over the ten-day period. In the beginning of September, we had the fig harvest. Uta from Germany made fig jam and sun-dried figs, which we are now selling in our farm shop. It was a very rich harvest that yielded well.

Since September, we have had over 15 long and short-term volunteers stay at the farm. They have worked with the harvests, animal farm, tree planting, and general maintenance of the farm. Without them, the necessary functions of the farm could not be carried out. We thank our volunteers from the bottom of our hearts and we hope to see them again soon. We cannot stress the importance of the roles that volunteers play in being an international presence and continuing to help in keeping our farm safe from confiscation. For more information on how to become a volunteer, visit our website www.tentofnations.org.

From the end of the summer until now, we have had hundreds of visitors to the farm who have come to hear our story. Hailing from many different countries, we asked our visitors to go back home and tell our story in order to keep the hope alive. It is encouraging to see the number of visitors increasing. Just like the volunteers, our visitors play a crucial role in protecting our farm.

Upcoming:

Tree Planting Campaign

Our 2016 Tree Planting Campaign will take place starting the beginning of January until the end of March. We invite you to come and plant a tree with us. If you are not able to come here and would like to contribute, you may sponsor a tree and we will plant it for you at the Tent of Nations.

Celebrations Tent of Nations

From May 9-12th, 2016, we will be celebrating the 100th year anniversary of Nassar family existence on the farm. Friends, old and new, are welcome to join us in celebrating this special time. We will be hosting a variety of workshops, activities, and field trips. It is important, especially now with the worsening political situation, to celebrate the positive things and to stand in solidarity with those who work for justice. Please visit our website or FaceBook page for more information. We hope to see you there!

We will continue to spread out the message of hope in a very dark political situation as the shepherds did 2,000 years ago knowing that love will defeat hatred and light will defeat darkness. Wherever you are, please continue to pray and to work for a just and peaceful world.

Thank you for your prayers, hope, and solidarity.

Blessings and Salaam,

Daoud Nassar

Tent of Nations – People Building Bridges

dnassar@tentofnations.org


Tent of Nations Fall 2015 Newsletter

December 2, 2015

Tent of Nations Farm People Building Bridges Fall 2015 Newsletter Dear Friends, We would like to wish you a blessed Christmas and holiday season with your loved ones. In this deteriorating political situation in Palestine, we find comfort in thoughts of love, hope, faith, and justice. We pray that, wherever you are, you are able […]


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Tent of Nations Summer Newsletter in German

September 8, 2015

Zelt der Völker Menschen bauen Brücken Newsletter Sommer 2015 Liebe Freunde Seit längerer Zeit habt ihr nichts mehr von uns gehört, aber wir sind noch immer hier und kämpfen für Gerechtigkeit. Wir möchten euch über die letzten Neuigkeiten von der Landwirtschaft berichten, sowie über die Rechtslage und die Herausforderungen betreffend Grundbesitz, aber auch die bisherigen […]


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Tent of Nations Summer Newsletter

September 5, 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 including the legal situation, the challenges […]


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Christmas Message from Bethlehem December 2014

December 22, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers, In few days the year 2014 is coming to an end, a year was full of fear, despair and darkness, and still no security, no stability and no peace. In the Middle East and in other areas of the world, we see a brother against his brother, a nation against another […]


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December 22, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers, In few days the year 2014 is coming to an end, a year was full of fear, despair and darkness, and still no security, no stability and no peace. In the Middle East and in other areas of the world, we see a brother against his brother, a nation against another […]


Read the full article →

Christmas Message from Bethlehem

December 22, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers, In few days the year 2014 is coming to an end, a year was full of fear, despair and darkness, and still no security, no stability and no peace. In the Middle East and in other areas of the world, we see a brother against his brother, a nation against another […]


Read the full article →

Tent of Nations update

September 3, 2014

Dear Friends, Two days ago Israel’s Military Authorities in the West Bank announced the takeover of 988 acres (3,799 dunams) belonging to five Palestinian villages between what is called the Etzion settlement bloc to the south of Jerusalem. The move clears the way for construction of a new settlement named Gvaot, which is on the […]


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