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The Christian Family Refusing to Give Up Its Bethlehem Hill Farm

World  (tags: middle-east, palestine, israel, Bethlehem, Nasser, Tent of Nations, land-grabbing, resistance )

- 1438 days ago -
A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance.

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Rose Becke (141)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 3:55 am
On 19 May a Palestinian shepherd from the village of Nahalin was out at first light and saw the bulldozer at work in the field, guarded by Israeli soldiers. By the time Nassar arrived the whole orchard - the best part of a decade's work - was gone. His English is far from fluent, but there's no mistaking the pain in his voice: "Why you broke the trees?"A spokesperson for the Israeli military authorities in the West Bank said the trees were planted illegally on state land.Nassar's sister, Amal, has a different explanation. The government, together with the Israeli settlers who live around the farm, is "trying to push us to violence or push us to leave," she says. Amal insists that her family will not move from the land, nor will they abandon their commitment to peaceful resistance.

"Nobody can force us to hate," she says. "We refuse to be enemies."

That phrase, which is painted on a stone at the entrance to the farm, was first used by her father, Bishara Nassar. Long before the concept became widely known among Palestinians, he taught his children a theory of non-violence that was rooted in his own Christian beliefs.

Bishara ("Gospel") Nassar was a child when his father bought this land in 1916. Even at that time, as World War One transformed the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire limped to an end, Palestinian Christians were beginning to emigrate. After the war of 1948 the Christian exodus from the West Bank quickened, and Bishara, who was a gifted preacher and accordionist, began to travel round the nearby villages, singing songs and leading Bible study in family homes. Music and stories, he thought, might deepen the faith and lift the spirits of Bethlehem's Christian children, encouraging them to stay.

Bishara also came to believe that the Christian community had a special role to play in building a more peaceful future.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 11:15 am
Boycott bulldozers, and companies that do business and profit from Israel's abuse and violations of human rights.
End all US aid to Israel.
How much do you pay a year to subsidize Israel and it's flagrant violation of human rights, for over half a century?!

fly bird (26)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 11:19 am
Boycott the companies that supply equipment, bulldozers, etc., and do business with Israel. Boycott Israeli products, settlement products and companies using America to expand financial and other operations, and profit from the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Wednesday June 18, 2014, 1:32 pm
Beautiful people I wish them well. Thanks for sharing

JL A (281)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 1:33 pm
There are kindred spirits alive in Bethlehem:
"About us:
At Tent of Nations, our mission is building bridges between people, and between people to the land. At Tent of Nations, we bring people of various cultures together to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation, and peace.

As part of this mission, we sponsor educational projects at Daherís Vineyard, our organic farm, located in the hills southwest of Bethlehem, Palestine. Our farm is a center where people from many different countries come together to build bridges of trust and hope."

David B (29)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 3:36 pm
Thanks for the fwd Jess and thanks for the post evelyn. All US aid to Israel, a very rich country, should stop immediately.

Freya H (357)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 3:44 pm
Christians who behave like this, unfortunately, are rare birds. Far too many people who profess Christianity are very un-Christian.

Abo r (107)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 10:10 pm
Thanks Jess and thanks for the post evely

Frans Badenhorst (582)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 11:20 pm
I admire people like these - integrity, real warriors standing firm for what they believe in - thanks Evelyn for sharing this - one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life was seeing Israeli troops cutting down and bulldozing an Olive grove of a Palestinian family, it was in the family for generations......

Evelyn B (62)
Wednesday June 18, 2014, 11:56 pm
Yes JL A - it is the Nasser family that set up the Tent of Nations - which is now under threat of destruction by ... Israeli bulldozers (Caterpillar?) & IDF. The Israeli Authorities haven't authorised the buildings & use of the land, won't authorise it - and (as for the trees) aren't processing recognition of the land ownership despite documents that show that the land belongs to the family .... People like the Nassers & movements like the Tent of Nations do not fit with the image of blood thirsty Palestinians that the State & pro-Zionists like to promote. On the contrary, the peace-building efforts reach Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians of all religious affiliations.

Danielle Savage (0)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 10:22 am
Thanks for sharing.

Betty Kelly (4)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 11:42 am
This family set a good example that their countrymer/women and the Isralies should follow.

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 12:19 pm
Thanks for this post, Evelyn. You're so right: the Nassar family - their name stands for so many like them, Christian and Muslim Palestinian - don't "fit with the image of blood thirsty Palestinians" as you say. This image is time and again portrayed as it is so much easier to hate if one first dehumanizes and daemonizes the object of hatred = enemy.

Also look up the peaceful protests of the village of Bil'in - since years they are protesting 'Gandhi style' every Friday against the building of the monster wall which cuts them off. The result? Nothing. Even when years ago some 13 EU Diplomats once took part in their demonstration nothing happened. The only effect the presence of the diplomats had was that the "agent provocateurs" didn't take action and the protests didn't finish with stun granades, tear gar and rubber/live bullets. But other than that ... business as usual.

Again - reading this sad and upsetting stories I can't help but remember a recent comment by a certain "Ge M." (a.k.a. Gilian M.) - an ardent and very vociferous Muslim/Arab hater and Zionist apologist - she wrote on June 17, 2014, 12:50 PM in an seemingly emotional answer to you, Evelyn:

"But Israel makes the effort to do what is right and NO ONE EVER says that. Israel does much that is good but also has to protect its citizens which NO ONE EVER acknowledges. NO ONE EVER comments on Israeli suffering because Israeli residents don't count. I have said on many occasions that Israel is guilty even when proven innocent and Palestinians are innocent even when known and proven to be guilty."

It is quite telling and ... interesting ... that all these Zionist apologists and ardent Arab haters are nowhere in sight when such and similar articles are posted. Would it be safe to assume that they're still busy trying to find "the good" (as Ge a.k.a. Gilian says) which Israel does?

Colleen L (3)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 2:26 pm
Yes I agree, they are beautiful people. I too wish them the best. Thanks Evelyn

Debra G (0)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 5:40 pm
Zionist apologist? Really? I don't consider myself a Zionist apologist, whatever that is supposed to connote. I believe in a strong Israel, and I do not condone these dreadful events. I can hold both beliefs - it is not one OR the other. I can protest against Israeli policies AND support Israel against the BDS movement. May I suggest the book "My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit. He certainly isn't a Zionist apologist.

Rosa Caldwell (384)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 9:23 pm
Wishing te people all the best.

Charlene Rush (79)
Thursday June 19, 2014, 10:23 pm
This is a disgrace, PERIOD, and Israel should be ashamed.
I am ashamed for them.
If this is how people behave in a godly fashion, I'm happy, not to be a believer.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn (42)
Friday June 20, 2014, 12:59 am
Thanks Evelyn for sharing this!

Rhonda B (106)
Friday June 20, 2014, 1:26 am
I wish these people the very best! Thank you for sharing Evelyn.

Evelyn B (62)
Friday June 20, 2014, 2:02 am
Debra - I wonder why you thought you were being targetted by Eleonora's comments? If such actions as are happening against the Nasser family & the Tent of Nations are wrong, in your view, then I don't see how you could be targetted? If you can recognise that certain policies and strategies are non-constructive and run counter to moving towards a modus operandi that respects the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, the caps wouldn't fit, so why defend yourself?
As for BDS - a) there are two levels of BDS: most BDS targets those producers and groups who effectively support the settlements (which are in Occupied Palestine) and profit from the Occupation, and supporters of such BDS include Israeli Jews who refuse to buy supplies from the settlements & industries in the settlements, refusing to profit from the Occupation. Relatively few BDS movements extend to Israeli companies and organisations that produce and sell entirely within Israel, irrespective of their contribution to and profiting from the Occupation. So, most BDS is not "against Israel" - as you appear to believe.

Your position on BDS is up to you and your conscience. You may freely choose to buy or invest in the fruits of the occupation, despite having reservations about some of the policies and strategies. In the same way as a vegan has no right to prevent me from eating meat or cheese.

What Eleonora was commenting on was those who will not (cannot) recognise that the Israeli government policies and strategies feed continued abuses & violent reactions, that it is not a Jewish/anti-semitic question but a question of human rights for all, equally. Her comments referred to those who use "anti-semitic", Holocaust" "nobody cares about the Jews" as a defence against honestly assessing and criticising Israeli government policies & strategies, and the frequent extremist behaviour of certain settlers, not to people who honestly try to be open and analytical - and critical when meritted.

So, relax, Debra - if the cap doesn't fit, why try to wear it?

Past Member (0)
Friday June 20, 2014, 8:16 am
Unfortunately, stealing somebody else land even to plant on orchid on it is wrong, even if it's done with playing music and singing.


Winn A (179)
Friday June 20, 2014, 8:21 am

Evelyn B (62)
Friday June 20, 2014, 12:56 pm
Oh Bob - wake up: they have the land titles dating back almost a century. The land steeling is by settlers, by intentional loss of documentation submitted, by excessive delays in deciding on cases submitted (by which time the bulldozers have gone in.

You are SO right: stealing someone else's land is very very wrong ... but the Nassers (like many other Palestinians) are the victims not the thieves.
Stealing land to build outposts ...
Stealing land to build the Wall
Stealing land to control water sources ...
Yes - stealing land IS wrong

Jeannet Bertelink (74)
Friday June 20, 2014, 2:00 pm

Birgit W (160)
Friday June 20, 2014, 2:28 pm
Sadly noted. I am wishing them all the best. Thank you.

Kathleen Mireault (225)
Friday June 20, 2014, 3:13 pm
Sadly noted. Thank you, Evelyn. Truly beautiful people; I wish them all the best!

Tom C Sullivan (98)
Friday June 20, 2014, 8:48 pm
S & N

Danuta W (1249)
Saturday June 21, 2014, 2:53 am

Kate Kenner (215)
Saturday June 21, 2014, 5:29 am
As Jew, albeit an atheist one, I fully support the state of Israel to exist BUT as Jew and a a person who abhors abuse of power I am disappointed at many things they do and what they are doing to people just trying to live in peace.

Evelyn B (62)
Saturday June 21, 2014, 7:05 am
Would give you a double star for that, if I could, Kate!

Bruce C D (89)
Saturday June 21, 2014, 2:17 pm
That the family is Christian, committed to peaceful resistance and building bridges makes this story very compelling, especially to people in Western nations. However, what religion they practice shouldn't make any difference. What is important is that this is just another example out of the many egregious injustices Israel forces upon Palestinians. This is also yet another example of the Israel's continuing land grabs that have been part of its policies since inception, and that of Zionists going back more than a century.

Evelyn B (62)
Sunday June 22, 2014, 9:45 am
I agree, Bruce - their religion shouldn't make any difference (and the Nassers don't consider people's religion as something that makes them more, or less, important ...
But for many around the world, especially in the West, this Christian identity draws more sympathy & attention. So much of the media coverage stresses nasty Muslim Palestinian, Islamic Arabs ... they're also driving th Christians out, according to many Islamophobic sites .... So (sadly) the "Christian" label triggers an identification, a willingness to read more, that they might well skip if it were a Muslim family farm ... And there ARE many Muslims in Palestine who struggle exactly the same way as the Nasser family ...

And yes, the Nassers not only hold the papers that show their title, but have managed to retain originals (unlike others whose papers get "lost" after submission) - which proves land-grabbing practice efforts ..... Much harder to prove when either families' ownership was well known but not formally documented (therefore rejected by the Israeli authorities where other systems would investigate & provide papers) or formal documents have been "lost" in the bureaucracy .... They therefore stand out as uncontrovertable examples of official efforts to steal land under Isreali "regulations".

Such a crazy waste - so sad, so wrong.

fly bird (26)
Friday June 27, 2014, 12:35 am
Thanks for the link, Eleonora

fly bird (26)
Wednesday July 16, 2014, 11:50 pm
VIDEO: The Gaza Bombardment - What You're Not Being Told
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