Community around Tent of Nations

Bethlehem has a centuries-old spiritual, cultural and economic link with Jerusalem, located only a few kilometers away. It is highly dependent on religious pilgrims and tourism for its economic survival. However, the Israeli policy of constructing settlements and the Wall around Bethlehem has turned the city from a social and lively spirit to an isolated town from Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Palestinians are forbidden to move between the two cities, and the service industry in the West Bank has been roughly destroyed, most locals who depend on welcoming visitors are struggling to earn their daily living and their basic needs.

We Refuse to be Enemies
We Refuse to be Enemies

Along the walk to the Farm, we are greeted by rocks proclaiming peace and the refusal to be enemies. As we climb higher up the hill to the Farm called Tent of Nations, we can look around at the Israeli “settlements” on the nearby hillsides. There now are FIVE of these large cities surrounding the Tent of Nations farm.

Israeli cities called "settlements" surround the Palestinian farm.
Israeli cities called “settlements” surround the Palestinian farm.

We can also see the ancient terraces made by generations of Palestinian farmers.

terraces (1 of 1)

Ancient farm lands terraced for generations.

These farm lands, like the land of the Tent of Nations farm, are under threat of confiscation by Israeli government.  The Nassar family has been defending its title to its land in Israeli Supreme Court and other courts since 1991.  It has cost over $150,000 in legal fees and surveys to pursue this peaceful means of keeping the farm. Now other farmers nearby come to the Tent of Nations for advice and guidance on how to attempt to save their farmland through peaceful means. Daoud Nassar, his wife Jihan, his brother Daher, and the three children all greet us.

Nassar family and our pilgrim group.
Nassar family on the left, and our pilgrim group from Virginia.

 

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