Tonight at St Luke’s, we’ve been hearing from the Daoud Nassar from the Tent of Nations, with friends from other congregations and the community. Daoud, who heads up this centre of peacemaking that is also a working farm, hosts camps for children from across Palestine and Israel and around the world, teaching peace. He inspires people who come to the tent of nations by refusing to resort to violence, refusing to sit in self-pity, refusing to be victims, refusing to hate, refusing to leave and most importantly refusing to be enemies with those who want to drive him from the land his family has owned, farmed and lived on since the Ottoman empire. (see some of the story below)
Through a Skype hookup at the church tonight, Daoud told us tonight of a team recently replanting the valley that was bulldozed by the Israeli defence force last May, despite a court action being in progress to prevent the demolition (in a double blow, the legal action to prevent the demolition was successful).
The replanting team was made up of people from many countries, including a group of Jewish volunteers from the USA, who had heard of the destruction of the Tent of Nations’ trees and came to help. At present, Daoud is in the middle of a three week speaking tour in Germany, talking to audiences in Churches and Universities, telling the story of Tent of Nations and sharing his daily choice not to be a passive pacifist but a peace activist. He is handling being a father of three who has to send his children to live in Bethlehem to go to school because the trip to and from Bethlehem is unpredictable (even though it’s only 9 km, it can take all day if there are road closures); he is handling large volumes of email from supporters around the world; he is handling an international speaking tour; and he is handling running a farm with his brothers under conditions that would make most people throw in the towel.
Daoud tonight impressed everyone with his positivity, ingenuity and faith; acknowledging the challenges he and other Palestinians face but remaining undaunted by them and holding fast to his commitment to work for peace. In a complex political and religious environment tainted by decades of violent measures and thousands of lives lost, the simple refrain ‘we refuse to be enemies’ testifies to the hope of a different future.