The Christian family refusing to give up its Bethlehem hill farm.
By Daniel Silas Adamson / BBC News
June 18, 2014
[Ed. note: Although three years old, we thought this article by the BBC might be of interest to our readership.]
“My father always said, ‘We will never achieve peace in Palestine and Israel just by shaking hands — we need to work on people, to start with the grassroots.’ So what we do now, as a family, is fulfilling the dream of my father that people can build bridges, for hope, for understanding, reconciliation, dialogue, to achieve peace. This is the idea.”
— Amal Nassar
On his farm outside Bethlehem, Daher Nassar is picking apples from the ruins of the orchard he planted at least eight years ago. The fruit is scattered across ground freshly opened and imprinted with the tracks of a bulldozer. At the field’s edge, branches reach out from inside a mound of earth, the bark stripped and mangled, unripe almonds still clinging to the trees.
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.”
Amal Nassar is profiled as one of “12 Inspiring Women.”
By Graham Hill / Global Church Network
July 4, 2017
Amal Nassar told me a moving story about reconciliation, when I interviewed her. A few years ago, she unexpectedly chanced upon a woman jogging past her farm. The woman was an Israeli settler.
The woman said to Amal, “What are you doing out here, in the middle of nowhere?”
Amal replied, “This is my family farm. We’ve lived here for more than 100 years.”
Incredulous, the Israel settler replied, “That’s not true. No-one lives here. This is empty land. Where are the houses and roads?”
“Our homes are built among the caves,” replied Amal, “and all these vineyards you see are ours.”
This is the second in my series 12 Inspiring Women, looking at twelve passionate, courageous, prophetic Christian women, who inspire us to think deeply, act courageously, embrace others, and bring hope to the world. You can read the first one here.
A few years ago, I had the chance to visit The Tent of Nations, which is in the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories. There I met Amal Nassar, a Palestinian Christian committed to nonviolence, peacemaking, and reconciliation.
The Tent of Nations is a family farm, owned by a Palestinian Christian family. Its mission is “to build bridges between people, and between people and the land. We bring different cultures together to develop understanding and promote respect for each other and our shared environment. To realize this mission, we run educational projects at Daher’s 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 learn, to share, and to build bridges of understanding and hope.”
From Beth Moore and Bill Plitt / FOTONNA
November 9, 2016
Following a recent refusal by the Military Court in the West Bank to grant permits to the Nassars for building two structures on their farm, one for a cave for volunteers and one for a machine shop, a demolition order was received by Daoud from the Military Court. It could mean that the two buildings would be demolished at any time by the military. Daoud feels he cannot be away from the farm at such a tenuous time.
We heard from Daoud Nassar early this morning, that due to urgent developments on the farm, he has decided, with great regret, that he will not be able to be present for the tour in Colorado this next week.
One of the constraints under which Palestinian’s operate is the requirement to obtain permits to build structures on their land. They follow the law and try to obtain the necessary permits, but they are never forthcoming. Daoud and his family have chosen a path of non-violent resistance, and move ahead to build structures on their land — many of them in underground caves. When this is discovered either by the Israeli military, or the occupation government (COGAT) demolition orders for the structures are ordered. There are some 30 demolition orders on structures on the Nassar’s land. Continue reading
Unsure of shelter, yet praying for rain
By Sarah Stern / +972
October 27, 2016
“Spending the Sukkot holiday on a Palestinian farm highlights the stark contrast between a holiday in which Jews celebrate in temporary structures, and a reality in which Palestinians are forced into an existence of impermanence and military demolition orders scattered across hilltops.”
Daoud Nassar carries 54 keys on his belt loop, in rotation. His sprawling family property, on the last Palestinian hilltop in the middle of the Gush Etzion settlements, is dotted with tented structures, caves, and gated areas, all fastened with a lock. As the family orients me on the property for a long weekend of volunteer work, they remind me to lock each time I exit the kitchen, or anywhere else for that matter. They say it’s to keep out mice and stray dogs. . . .
I head to Tent of Nations from Jerusalem on a Friday morning. The city of Jerusalem is temporarily stacked with its own impermanent structures — sukkot — lining the stone apartments of Nachlaot. I wonder whether Tent of Nations is a more appropriate place to be celebrating this holiday, despite Jerusalem’s renown for the holiday of Sukkot.
Upon moving to Jerusalem a few years ago, the ramshackle huts popping up in the streets once a year struck me as quaint; a nice excuse for city-folk to sit under the stars and eat good food with their families. It seemed nice. Upon arriving in the heart of Gush Etzion, I saw a more sinister backdrop to the impermanent structures at the Tent of Nations.