This post is part of a series on peacemakers I met in Israel/Palestine.
Far and away one of the most moving experiences from my recent trip was getting to actually see the Tent of Nations for myself. I had heard about this for years but the hype could not hold a candle to seeing it firsthand.
Daoud Nassar is an Arab Christian who lives outside of Bethlehem. The nation of Israel has been attempting to repurpose the 100 acres of his land for decades now. Due to perseverance, support from around the world, and a land title dating back to the Ottoman Empire, Daoud and his family still have the land. Yet they live with a constant threat from the five Jewish settlements all around them. They have had harsh rules applied to them and their land that would cause most people to quickly give up and move on. For example, they aren’t allowed to build any new buildings or even to receive basic utilities such as water and power. They have had hundreds of their olive trees uprooted. They prepare for a forcible annexation at any moment in addition to physical threats of violence.
You might wonder this family’s response to such unfair treatment? They radically love them in the name of Jesus.
Often when people think of nonviolence they think of accepting a passive position of withdrawal. Daoud and his family show how you can stand up against injustice in love without resorting to evil. I was beyond moved by meeting him and hearing his story (click here to watch a 20-minute video as one church tells their story). Since they can’t build houses they build caves on their property. Since they can’t get utilities they’ve learned how to harness their own water and power.
Here are a few of the things which have stuck with me:
- We refuse to be victims.
- We refuse to hate.
- People need to grow up with nonviolence modeled as a way of life.
You may wonder (especially as an American) how any plot of land could be worth this kind of struggle? As the Nassar family explains it, “Our land is like our mother. We care for her. We won’t sell her. We will never leave her alone.” They bought it in 1916 and have maintained it till today. When you consider the story of it today you realize it is far more about a narrative and an example in nonviolence than it is about dirt.
“Peace is not just the absence of conflicts. Peace is also a mentality. It’s the art of experiencing inner peace in the midst of conflict.”
“Peace is not just the absence of conflicts. Peace is also a mentality.” @TentOfNationsClick to tweet
Click here to learn more about Daoud Nassar and the Tent of Nations.