Greetings from Bethlehem. I hope you enjoyed the Christmas celebrations and holiday.
Today is the last day of the year 2010. For some people it was a good year but for others it wasn’t. For us Palestinians, the year 2010 was a difficult year. We were hoping that it will bring peace with justice to our land but it brought more settlements and land confiscation. Even that we are not allowed to give up our hope for peace and justice, we want to thank God for the strength he gave us in 2010 to continue our nonviolent struggle for justice in a very difficult and hopeless time.
We wish you all a happy new year full of blessings. We pray and hope that the year 2011 will be a year of peace and justice to all people. All the best to you all for the year 2011.
We hear about the peace process, the negotiations and the obstacles for peace. Politicians and negotiators are talking about peace but at the same more facts are created on the ground that are against peace. Palestinian land is being confiscated every day for the expansion of settlements, roads and fences that are cutting our land into small pieces, changing it into small homelands. People are talking about peace but they don’t have it in their hearts. We are becoming like sheep without a shepherd. It is a very miserable situation for us living day by day without any future perspectives.
Regarding the demolishing orders, as I already informed you that the Israeli military authority got a new time limit for the third time until the 2nd of January to explain why they want to demolish our structures, a court date was given on the 2nd of January but I heard from our lawyer while I am writing this Newsletter that the court date was postponed again.
The Hill which is south west of the Tent of Nations is already confiscated. Roads are opened to connect the settlements together. There is a plan to disconnect us not only from the main road but even from the village of Nahalin. Even that, we will never give up living there.
In the new year as in the previous ones we are trying always to develop the infrastructure on the land, to keep the Tent of Nations functioning even if the plan is to disconnect us. We already have a solar power system for electricity and 11 cisterns for rain water collection. We are planning to add a small wind turbine for 3 KW of electricity in the year 2011. We have 4 compost toilets on the farm in order to save water. All of that will help the Tent of Nations Island to function.
Within the next weeks and months we are expecting more groups and individuals from USA, Europe Israel and Palestine to come and join us in planting trees at the Tent of Nations. This campaign is called “ Plant for Peace”. We started in November to cultivate new fields for new trees. Our goal for this year and the following ones is to plant more than 3000 trees in order to protect the land, to make it green and to increase the land production. Farm products will be sold to our guests which will help the Tent of Nations to be self-sustainable. We want to thank all who are sponsoring trees for the Tent of Nations.
The women project Bent Alreef is been very successful. Beside the different courses we are offering to women from the village, we started with a sustainable agriculture training course for one year. This project is being supported by the United Palestinian Appeal from USA. Our vision is to establish a vocational training center focusing on sustainable farming and alternative energy (Solar and wind).
We are very happy to see that the number of guests from all over the world who are coming to visit the Tent of Nations is increasing. In the year 2010, 4756 people came to visit the Tent of Nations from all over the world including Israelis. Our goal is to double this number for the year 2011. We want to thank all of you who came to visit this year, thank you for your solidarity. Thanks also to our long term and short term volunteers for their help and support.
Our goal in 2011 is to continue developing the infrastructure in order to make the Tent of Nations self-sustainable. A first aid room is needed, a maintenance workshop in order to repair our machines without binging them to Bethlehem is very important. The legal battle is also a big burden on us. We want to thank all who helped with the legal fees. Thank you so much for your support and solidarity.
We would like to invite you to sponsor our programs for the year 2011: You can sponsor an olive tree for $10, or an animal (horse, goat, chicken, rabbit,…) for $10 a month.
You are welcome to sponsor a child for the summer camp in July with $180 or women for one semester with $250.
Our goal is to make the Tent of Nations within 3 to 5 years self-sustainable and self-supportive. Please join us in achieving this goal.
We have a vision for the future and we are looking forward to achieve it. Independently from the difficult political situation, we are trying to move forwards defending our rights in a nonviolent way and preparing the new generation for a better future by spreading the words of peace and justice under the slogan: “We refuse to be enemies”.
Faith, hope and love are the foundation of our work.
We want to thank you all for your prayers, for your encouragement and for your support. We wish you all a happy new year and we would love to see you in the year 2011.
Blessings and Salaam from the land that is thirsty for peace and justice.
Tent of Nations
People Building Bridges