EAPPI and many others have forwarded an urgent email from Daoud Nassar of the Tent of Nations [http://www.tentofnations.org/], which is a project that the Nassar family started on their farm to bring youth of various cultures together to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation, and peace.
Nasser's story of "Daher's Vineyard" is familiar to many who have read Mitri Raheb's book, I Am a Palestinian Christian - http://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/item.jsp?clsid=168606&productgroupid=0&isbn=080062663X
According to Susan Wilder of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Washington Office, a letter has been sent "to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, with copy to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, from Bishop Burnside, chair of the ELCA bishops' Middle East Ready Bench, regarding the recent demolition orders issued to Tent of Nations. The letter expressed concern, asked that the orders be revoked, and asked that the Nassars receive assurances of no further interference."
Nader Hanna, Advocacy Officer, EAPPI, writes, "The farm is in the Western Hills of Bethlehem and is strategically based between three illegal Israeli settlements. For years, the local settlers have wanted the family’s land, but the Nassars have refused to sell their forefather’s land. When settler harassment and military intimidation failed to influence the family to leave, the settlers tried using the legal system to annex the land, but the Nassar family has owned the farm for generations and has land deeds from the Ottoman Era, British Mandate, and the time of Jordanian rule to prove their rightful ownership.
"Now it seems that a new pressure tactic is being adopted – one that is being used all-over Area C (an area comprising of 66% of the West Bank where Israel has total control over civil and security issues) – demolition orders. Daoud has been prevented to build on his land, so he dug underground to make a small chapel and used structures such as tents to host guests from all over the world who have come to support his family and help them farm their land. Yet, yesterday (Thursday, 27 May 2010) he was handed a demolition order for 9 ‘unlicensed’ structures on the farm that include caves, tents, lavatories, shacks for livestock, and a water cistern, which would essentially make the farm uninhabitable.
"To learn more about the Tent of Nations I recommend that you watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bH7YSexWAw, and read Mr. Nassar’s plea for help in the email below.
"Time is not on our side; the demolition order was handed to the Nassar family on Thursday and they were given only three days to refute it; although all Israeli government institutions are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Thus, for your convenience I drafted the following letter that you may use or modify to send to your country’s Israeli Ambassador (click here for contact information: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Sherut/IsraeliAbroad/Continents/) ... so as to demand that this grave injustice be prevented:
As a citizen of YOUR COUNTRY, I am writing to you concerning the Government of Israel’s recent decision to demolish nine structures in the Tent of Nations (http://www.tentofnations.org/), a project launched by a Palestinian family on their farm in the western hills of Bethlehem that aims to bring youth together to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation, and peace.
I ask that your government reconsiders this action, because it would be a violation of this family’s right to build on their own land. Moreover, such an action against a project of this nature would be widely interpreted as a proactive measure, which may make Israel appear as though it is not serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, especially in light of the current proximity talks.
Now here is the message from Daoud Nassar [email@example.com]
Date: Thu, May 27, 2010 at 11:03 PM
Subject: Urgent Message from the Tent of Nations
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,
Tent of Nations
-People Building Bridges-
Bethlehem - Palestine
Tel: +972 (0)2-274 3071
Fax: +972(0)2-276 7446
Mobile: +972(0)522 975 985
Support in the USA for Tent of Nations: http://www.fotonna.org/index.html
The EAPPI website: http://www.eappi.org/
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