Tent of Nations


Olive trees
James Emery, via Flickr

In the history of conflict in Israel-Palestine, there have been people who have chosen peace. Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin look at one family that have chosen to use their land for peace.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

May 19th, 2014. It is a day Daoud Nassar remembers well. Nassar and his family own a farm southeast of the town of Bethlehem, in the country of Israel-Palestine. On that day, Nassar hurried to look at his fields. He went because he had heard terrible news. In the early hours of the morning, a local shepherd had seen something shocking. He told the family that Israeli soldiers drove bulldozers onto the Nassars’ farm. These powerful machines began to tear down the family’s olive trees. By the time the sun was up, the bulldozers had destroyed 1500 trees!

Voice 2 

This was a very tragic day for the Nassar family. And it was part of a much longer dispute. For years, the Israeli government has claimed that the state owns the land the Nassars live on. But the Nassars believe they have legally owned the land since 1916. It has been a long conflict. But the Nassars have chosen to react in an unusual way. At the edge of the Nassar’s land, there is a sign. It says, "We refuse to be enemies." And on their land, they have built a center for peace and non-violence. Today's Spotlight is on the Nassar’s Tent of Nations farm.

Voice 1 

The conflict in Israel-Palestine has a long history. And a major issue in the conflict is land. Who has the right to live on the land? People have many different opinions about this question. And too often, these different opinions have led to tragic violence.

Voice 2 

The Nassar family firmly believes they have the right to live on their land. But they also believe that violence is not the way to end this conflict. Tony Nassar told the organization World Vision:

Voice 3 

"When we were young, we used to come every morning and work on the land, planting trees. My father taught us how to have a good relationship with the land. The land is part of our life. But we will announce that this is a land for peace and love, with rights for all people created in God's image."

Voice 1 

In the year 2000, the Nassars started the Tent of Nations organization. Tent of Nations exists to teach people about peace and how to care for the land. Groups from all over the world come to stay and learn. They work on the farm and take classes on peaceful responses to conflict. Encounter is an Israeli organization. They work to bring together average Palestinian and Israeli citizens. Encounter groups often stop to visit Tent of Nations and learn about non-violence.

Voice 2 

The Tent of Nations also operates children’s camps in the summer. These camps bring together young Muslim and Christian Palestinians. And they use art to teach the children about non-violence and peacemaking.

Voice 1  

Today, Tent of Nations is continuing the dream of the Nassars’ father, Bishara. Bishara lived through many wars between Israel and Palestine. But he always wanted his farm to be a place of welcome and peace. Bishara was a devoted Christian. He taught his children to love God and to love the land. Amal Nassar is Bishara's daughter. She told the BBC,

Voice 4  

"My father always said, 'We will never achieve peace in Palestine and Israel just by shaking hands. We need to work on people'. So, what we do now, as a family, is completing the dream of my father. He believed that people can build bridges for hope, for understanding, for forgiveness, for discussion and to achieve peace."

Voice 2  

But the way of non-violence is not easy. In 1991, the government of Israel declared that more than 90% of the Nassar family farm was state land. The government ordered the Nassars to leave. But the Nassars fought the government in court. The court case has lasted for more than 20 years. The Nassars believe that their claims are just. And they refuse to leave.

Voice 1  

But this has caused the Nassars great difficulties. They are not connected to city water or electricity. So, they must collect rain water and use power from the sun. They are not permitted to build buildings. So the groups that come to Tent of Nations meet in tents. They also meet in a large cave in the side of a hill.

Voice 2  

Over the years, the Nassars have suffered much damage to their farm. The government has even closed off the road to their farm. But the Nassars have chosen not to react in anger. Amal Nassar told the BBC,

Voice 4  

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

Voice 1  

The Tent of Nations has many supporters. Many of them are Israeli citizens. Ilana Sumka was the head of the peace group Encounter in Jerusalem. After the Israeli government destroyed the Nassars’ olive trees, she began organizing a group of Jewish, Israeli citizens. This group wants to help the Nassar family plant new olive trees. She told the Haaretz news organization,

Voice 5  

"I want to let the Nassar family know that the Israeli government's bulldozers do not represent my Jewish values."

Voice 2  

Although the Nassar family has support, they have often felt very angry and sad. But Daoud Nassar says that they have something that gives them power to love: God's Holy Spirit. Nassar spoke at Riverside Church in New York in the United States. He said,

Voice 6  

"How do we deal with all the anger, hate, and lost hope that surround us?. This is the answer: God is not leaving us alone. In the middle of all the difficult things we are facing, and in these difficult and dark times, the message of faith, love, and hope is coming. It is coming through Jesus Christ and his words: 'You will get the power when you receive the Holy Spirit.'. With this power we are able to make a difference wherever we are."

Voice 1  

And the Nassars are making a difference. They are showing a different way to react to violence. Even after the Isreali government destroyed the Nassars’ olive trees, Daoud Nassar told the BBC,

Voice 6  

"We will never return unjust acts with violence. And we will never give up and leave."

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Ryan Geertsma.  The voices you heard were from United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Tent of Nations."

Voice 1  

Tell us what you think about today's program. You can leave your comments on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Does your family have a home, or land, that matters to you? Do you go back to your family home?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
oleksandrk
said on November 03, 2014

Thank you Spotlight very much for this good program! :-)

Avatar Spotlight
minhdy
said on November 16, 2014

I afraid of the war because I had lived in war period for long time. When the war has occurred for long-term time the innocent victims who are only the people between two countries. I always expect that the war in all the world must be ended due to the peace and prosperousness for human being. Thanks so much for Spotlight.

Avatar Spotlight
Robert Tom
said on February 15, 2017

Thanks Spotlight for the interesting information. I have been curious about Palestinian government’s role in supporting Nassar’s family. A family and volunteers can not solve this conflict.

Avatar Spotlight
NguyenHuuTai_Bmt
said on February 17, 2017

This program is very useful for me to learn more English. The voices are clearly and speaking speeds are slow so I can transcribe these contents to improve my listening and writing skills. Thank you so much.