History of the ToN
More than 100 years ago, many family members have worked at the ToN during the day and slept in caves at night. Olives, grapes, almonds, fruit trees, wheat and other crops are grown on the land.
The farm (Daher’s Vineyard) was purchased more than one 100 years ago, at a time when Palestinian Christians were beginning to emigrate. At that time, the country was still under the Ottoman rule. During the British Mandate in Palestine from 1918 to 1948, the property was registered with the British in 1924 and 1925 under Bishara Daher Nassar’s name.
The Arab Israeli war in 1948-49 (Arabic: Nakba = catastrophe), left more than 750,000 Arab Palestinians without a home. Daher’s son Bishara Nassar began a ministry in the Bethlehem area among the Palestinian Christian refugees by offering Bible Study and prayer sessions to empower them and to encourage them to stay and not to leave.
The West Bank was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, and in the 1970s Israel started building Settlements in the West Bank.
The ToN is surrounded by 5 illegal Israeli Jewish settlements (Gush Etzion settlement bloc) that are growing to become cities. In 2018, a Torah school, also expanding rapidly, was built right next to the ToN.
In 2001 Bishara’s children transformed the farm into an international meeting place, which has since been called Tent of Nations Farm (ToN).
In 1991, Israeli authorities declared the Nassar family farm and surrounding area as a “state land”. The Nassar family owns all the original land registrations under the name of Bishara Nassar from 1924 and 1925 and has farmed the land throughout Ottoman, British, Jordanian and Israeli rule, which clearly proves that the Israeli government has no right to declare it as state land.
Since then, the Nassar family has defended their land from demolition of farm buildings, water cisterns, tents, and outright expropriation in front of the Israeli Military Court and Supreme Courts. In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that Nassars could begin the re-registration of their land in Area C, as required by Israel.
Quick facts about Palestine:
Palestine is internationally recognized as a state entity by 138 UN member states (72%) and has had observer status at the UN since 2012. It includes the Gaza Strip (360 sq. km, about 2.1 million Palestinians) and the West Bank (about 2.7 million Palestinians), East Jerusalem (about 8.4 sq. km and over 0.3 million Palestinians) as its capital. Approximately 0.95 million people currently live in all of Jerusalem (125 sq. km). More than 0.7 million Jewish settlers already live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These settlements are considered illegal by the International law and the UN.
The West Bank has been divided into 3 zones since 1995 (Oslo Agreement). Zone A is administered entirely by the Palestinian Authority, which is also allowed to make decisions there independently. For zone B, such a procedure is only possible with Israeli permission, e.g. for building permits. Zone C is solely under the Israeli military administration. This accounts for 62% of the West Bank.
Sources: Wikipedia articles West Bank, Palestine, Gaza Strip, Jewish settlement, etc. (9/9/22) and BpB
Since then, the process has been repeatedly delayed by Israel, forcing the Nassars to restart the process several times. In 2019, the Nassars finally received confirmation that their application was complete. After two more years of additional delays, a meeting of the Israeli Registration Committee was held in February 2021 to inform the family of the next steps in the re-registration process. Despite repeated requests, the Nassars continue to wait to hear the results of this meeting. Between February and August 2021, nothing was heard from the Civil Administration, despite several requests from their attorney.
Due to the delay in the new registration process, the Nassars’ attorney prepared documents to resubmit to the Supreme Court requesting further action. Within three days, he was informed that the committee appointed by the Civil Administration to review the case on December 13. As in many other cases in the past, the hearing was postponed and rescheduled for January 16, 2022.
The January 16 hearing was held. However, the attorney representing the state did not show up, and the head of the committee gave the state an additional 45 days to submit documentation to support its arguments. The next hearing was scheduled for May 2, 2022. This date was again postponed to October 27, 2022, postponed to November 21, 2022 and then postpond again to Januarty 16, 2023.
Due to the long delay in the re-registration process, the ToN continued to be the target of numerous attacks. On May 21, 2021, unknown persons set fire on the Nassar’s land and destroyed over 1000 trees, including hundreds of olive trees. On June 9, 2021, Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers entered their private property and cut down approximately 50 olive trees. On January 20, 2022, vandals destroyed 50 mature olive trees.
On January 28, 2022, two of the Nassar’s brothers were attacked and seriously injured on the ToN by masked men. The pace of settlement expansion, the constant concern for the family’s physical safety, the construction of settler-only roads, and roadblocks and checkpoints have added to the isolation of the ToN and the sense of imminent threat.
Countless times so far, the ToN has been attacked, thousands of trees have been destroyed, and damages of over €150,000 have been caused. The Nassar family has been threatened with their lives several times.
Nevertheless, they live without aggression according to the motto “We refuse to be enemies” and hope for a better future. They try to overcome their obstacles, challenges, the continuous destructions and the attacks on their lives in a peaceful nonviolent way based on their Christian values and trusting in God’s justice.