Visit to Tent of Nations

Global Campus Middle East at Tents of Nations:
With Heart and Hand we Heal the Land
Written by: Ido Inbar, a participant of “Building Community” course, lead by the PRV-ME.

As we meet Daud in the cave which his grandfather built and has lived in since 1916, we discover a man radiating with charm, with a strong yet soft presence. With an eloquent flow of well-built phrases, he unveils the story of this farm, which sits on a land that was documented under the name of his family in the official registrar of the Turkish (and later on British) mandate on the land, in times when officially registering your property was simply not done.

As the years go by, the family receives more and more evacuation demands, and while climbing the chain of courts – both military and civil – life on the land becomes harder. Neither electricity lines, nor a water pipe reach the farm, and the main road was blocked with huge rocks by the Israeli army in 1991. And so, while the surrounding hills are covered with ever-growing fields of modern white villas in Jewish settlements, the farm adopts solar panels, water preservation techniques and composting toilets in line with a more peaceful attunement with their needs, following their perspective of a non-violent approach to the land they love.

“Where do you find the inner strength to go on and stay peaceful?”

Daud takes a deep breath, and reveals his pillars of power:
1. Faith
2. Love
3. Hope

With these three forces we are able to re-create our vision of peace, over and over again, despite the ever growing harassments coming from all the Israeli government, the Israeli army high presence, and the local Jewish settlers who have uprooted some 250 olive trees as an act of terrorizing the family. Holding those 3 magnificent forces of light – Faith, Love and Hope – creates a reaction, and a British support organization heard the call, having since donated 250 olive trees to support the cause.

Daud, who was born and raised Christian, remembers how the family ended each day gathering to talk and read texts, receiving the quality of having faith in his heart since a young age. The family faces daily frustration from humiliation suffered, stress inflicted and acts of violence towards them and their fellow Palestinians. He explains that “the practice of hope as an act in the world, not a passive idea”, is the way he chooses to be, and so the family chooses over and over again to channel hard energy into new projects. One of them was the digging of the much needed new water-collecting system, shifting the hard energies around recent attacks at Gaza into a positive energy of creation.

“Step by step, we walk towards our vision. Never thinking too much about the goal, but instead, focusing our energy on the current moment”. Daud explains, and adds: “as we strive for peace, we cannot run together, only walk, with patience, and precision. If we run, we might fall, and then it is hard to go on. Instead we walk. I take a step or two, maybe you take a few more, and slowly we are getting there”.

When asked about how he perceives peace between the nations, Daud reminds us that “The ability to create peace between nations is the ability to create peace with in us. Currently those who are doing ‘peace talks’ do not arrive to the table with inner peace – one might say they ‘Don’t walk the talk’.”

When asked about his reaction to violence, he replies with a tone of one speaking on a subject well studied.

“There are 3 common ways of going about reacting to violence:
1. Violence – a simple study of history will reveal this is not an effective approach.
2. Victim consciousness – a passive approach which leans on maintaining a belief you are nearly a victim.
3. Escaping – will not make a difference at all”

Daud’s family chose the fourth way, and much like the ways of Mahatma Ghandi or Martin Luther King, their reaction is an act of non-violence, of love, faith and hope.

The family, including the grandfather who originally bought the land, all come from Bethlehem, which can be approached with a car in 2 ways: The first is a 10 minute drive via the road that was blocked at 1991, and the second takes about 1.5 hours with the check-points of the Israeli army and hard un-paved roads. That’s why taking the kids to school from the farm created too much stress on the young ones. Daud’s family resides in Bethlehem, and the kids come to live in the farm for the summer, as they host a summer camp based on hope, faith and love, where Palestinian kids can meet and create, and groups arrive from as far as Jerusalem, with Jewish and Palestinian kids alike.

As we gather for a short forum circle to end our activities in the Tent of nations, various voices reveals the different inner experiences each of us had. An example is one of the voices shared by an Israeli participant: a voice of mistrust. You could feel the energy thicken as the words told an inner story of hardship in trusting an Arab man, and how this day has served as a meaningful stepping stone towards rebuilding trust

We are thankful for the long term cooperation and the open heart with which the PRV-ME group is received whenever in Tent of Nations (since 2005!), which holds the torch of love, hope, faith, and reconciliation, surviving through the changing winds of politics.