Tent of Nations

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
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Trip End Apr 11, 2013


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Tent of Nations

Flag of Palestinian Territory  ,
Thursday, April 4, 2013

Three of our group, Phung, Josie, and Alice got up in time to be at the Checkpoint to witness the Palestinians getting in line to go to Jerusalem for work. The line starts forming at 4:00 in the morning but the Checkpoint does not open until 5:00.  Three thousand Palestinians cross through between 5:00 and 7:00 each morning.  Before breakfast Claire took two different carloads of people to see the famous graffiti done by an artist known as Banksy.  The one that moved me the depicted an Israeli soldier being frisked by a little Palestinian girl.  When we returned we had breakfast in the kitchen.  Johnny, Claire's husband, had made wonderful pancakes on which we could put homemade dibis (grape butter) and apricot jam.  There was homemade goatcheese and yogurt.  There was lunch meat, ham I think, hardboiled eggs, fresh oregano to mix with the goat cheese and yogurt.  Again there was mint tea and coffee. 

Our bus came to pick us up at 9:00.  We had a new driver, Isaac, and different bus today. The first thing we did was pick up Rich Stein who had come by bus from Jerusalem.  He flew from California via Paris the day before.  Then we headed to Aida (Ida) Refugee Camp also in Bethlehem.  We stopped a couple of blocks away to see all the paintings made by the villagers of the Nakba (the catastrophe of the 534 villages leveled in 1948-49).  When we turned the corner and saw the gate into the camp.  It was in the shape  of a keyhole with a very large key on top.  When the villagers left their homes during the Nakba, they took the key to their houses with them.  Some of them still have those keys.   There are six thousand refugees living in this camp.

 When we reached the Alrowwad  Cultural and Theater Society.  First we saw two films about Alrowwad (Beautiful Resistance) and the second one was about the Nakba.  Then the General Manager, Abdelfattah Abusrour, spoke to us about his experience being born in the Refugee Camp and how he came to cofound the Center.  The center uses drama, music, art, theater, dance and much more to get across the suffering of the Palestinian people.  The children who participate in the program have performed all over the world.  Abdel is highly educated with a degree from Paris in biomedical engineering. 

When we left Aida, we stopped in downtown Bethlehem to have Shawarmas for lunch.  You had your choice of three breads, large and small rolls or flat bread like a tortilla.  Then you chose beef or chicken.  Then you took your sandwich to the salad bar to choose your toppings.  When you finished that you and if you had the flat bread you took it back to the counter and they folded it for you so it looked like a wrap.  Some of us ate in the shop and some outside as it was sunny.  Then we were driven to Tent of Nations about three miles outside of Jerusalem, but we went about twice that distance at least so that the bus could get us close enough with our baggage.

Tent of Nations is a farm with olive, fig and almond trees.  They are on the highest hill in Bethlehem district and are surrounded by settlements.  It is owned by the Nasser Family and they still live there.  They are also in danger of losing their farm to the settlements and have been fighting in the courts, both military and now the Supreme Court since 1991.  They are doing lots of things environmentally soundly and have solar panels and composting toilets.  They have lots of visitors from all over the world.  Shortly after we arrived we went for a short walk to see the accommodations – tents.  It was and still is very windy as I write this blog.  Later on we discovered there are also caves we can stay in.  The chapel is in a cave and the family lived in a cave until the last uncle died in the 1989

We went into the meeting cave and Daoud (David) Nasser told us about his family’s situation with the 100 acres of farm.  He is a man who lives non-violent resistance every moment of every day.  He is doing everything he can to save his farm by opening it up to groups like us and he also gives Peace Camps for children in the summer.  His wife teaches computer courses to the local women.  Daoud speaks in the US and will be coming to Ohio in May. 

After the lecture we staked our claims in the tent and in the cave where the family formerly lived.  We moved our luggage and got pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags.  Then Daoud took us on a walk through the property to show us everything.  It is a beautiful farm with great 360* views. 

We ate supper with people from Canada and France and volunteers from all over.  Daoud’s brother was there and his sister who prepared the meal.  It was a simple meal of salad, rice with chicken, yogurt, and pita bread.  After supper Daoud suggested we use his house instead of the tent as it looked like rain, it was getting colder and more windy.  The straw that really broke the camel’s back was when one of the volunteers told us to tie the tent shut at night so the dog’s would not get in and sleep on your bed.  So all of us except Larry and Ted ended up at Dauod’s house.  Larry and Ted slept in the cave.  We had a debriefing meeting before going to bed.
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