SILVIA OAKLAND, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
“I want everyone to not see themselves as victims when facing challenges,” Daoud Nassar, founder of Tent of Nations, said. “I want people to see how difficult our situation is, but we did not stay there.”
Nassar spoke on Nov. 8 at Wartburg College while on tour to raise awareness about the barrier between Israel and the West Bank, construction began in 2002 to prevent violent attacks by Palestinian militants inside Israel. Nassar was hosted by Wartburg’s Religion and Philosophy department.
Wartburg was one of nine stops on Nassar’s Iowa tour, visiting five different synods, assembly of clergy, in eight days. According to Nassar, his family farm purchased by his grandfather in 1916 had continued struggles with conflict with those in charge of Palestine.
Then in 1991, the land was claimed as state land by the Israeli government despite Nassar and his family provided papers as proof of ownership. The continued 28 year-long battle with the Israeli government.
The Israeli government began using four tactics to confiscate Nassar’s land: the legal battle, physical pressure, isolation and financial pressure. The legal battle also involved 12 years in military court where Nassar and his family relentlessly tried to prove their ownership of the land and resulted in them going to the Isralei Supreme Court.
As for physical pressure, the olive trees of Nassar’s farm, which are a main source of income, were uprooted, their water tanks destroyed and road construction which was planned to be built through the West and East their farm threatened harvest of other fruits.
The wall between Israel and West Bank if it is finished will separate the Palestinian communities and the farm land, like in Nassar’s case, which will contribute to the fragmentation of the Palestinian territories.
Nassar discussed why he and his organization, Tents of Nations, believed with walls no one can achieve peace and walls create images of enemies.
Through four principles, refusing to be labeled as victims by themselves or others, refusing to have hate, living with their faith and believing in justice, Nassar and Tent of Nations use an active way of nonviolent resistance to protest the completion of the barrier.
In 2005, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) became involved by launching the Peace Not Walls campaign to help create peace between Israelis and Palestinians Through the number of volunteers and visitors that have visited Nassar’s farm and donated money through Peace Not Walls, attacks from the Israeli government have stopped.
Nassar’s farm had 10,252 visitors in 2018 who helped plant, harvest and other needs of the farm.
Nassar encouraged students to get involved with Tent of Nations and to stand up and take action for peace. “Acting in a nonviolent and positive is key in making change,” Nassar said. “We need people to see the good things and focus on them.” For more information on Tents of Nations, go to tentofnations.com