Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tent of Nations

(more pics if you click here)

Spent the past few days roughing it at the Tent of Nations. Here I saw a ray of light and inspiration surrounded by despair and hopelessness.

The Tent of Nations sounds grand but it's basically a few tents and some farm land on 100 acres of free land. The man who runs it is a Palestinian Christian who is an inspiration in these parts because he is standing up to the Israeli state who want to take his land and fighting them in Israeli courts. He has created a place of reconciliation that all people can come and meet together.

As you may be aware Israel is building many settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territorys. These are built on Palestinian land as most Palestinians do not have papers to prove that they have lived and worked on the land for generations. In 1967 the Israelis passed a law to prevent Palestinians from registering the land. The settlements are beautiful and highly fortified. The people there live like kings and queens while the Palestinian villagers who once owned the land struggle without enough food, water or electricity.

Tent of Nations
Dawod's grandfather began cultivating this land in 1916. The land was registered and there are papers showing ownership through the Ottoman/British/Jordanian and now Israeli occupations. It is basically a hill surrounded by Israeli settlements. Despite having the papers the Israelis having been trying to take the land since 1991. Everywhere else they just take it but Dawod has been fighting against all odd in the courts to keep it. It's an unbelievable story of intimidation from settlers and soldiers, being forced to spend thousands of dollars in court, and constant postponements. Settlers come with guns and destroy water tanks, uproot hundreds of trees and block the only road to the hill. The police do nothing.

He is not allowed to build anything on his own land. Not even a well for water or a chicken shed. He is not allowed electricity or a water supply.

Despite taking it to the Israeli High Court it still hasn't been resolved. Pray for this place. It's a rare spot of hope. Dawod brings angry teenagers from the city and teaches them peace and hope and tries to help them work towards building a better, non-violent country. He is trying to teach them to create something from nothing....redemption. So they don't sit around and cry and become victims. We stayed with a crowd of teenagers from Bethlehem and had an amazing time. They are just like the lads from Lurgan except they are caged.They crave our freedom.

The Village
Dawod is also the hope for the village below the hill. The village that used to own all the land where these huge Israeli settlements are now built. They now live on 20% of the land they once owned and are not allowed to expand. The village is 100% Muslim.... so we have a Christian family fighting for the rights of the Muslim neighbours.

We walked into the village last night. Despite being Christian foreigners we were welcomed with open arms. We had a crowd of 50 odd kids following us about. The situation is critical. We met a doctor who volunteers in the only clinic there. He talked about the intimidation from the settlers. They come down and shoot people. They dump their rubbish and sewage into the village. The people here are short of everything. Water and electricity is scarce. The clinic does not even have bandages to treat wounds.

To compound all of this in 2 months time the wall is going to be built around the village. There will only be one exit and the people will be under curfew. They are not allowed to build a hospital and the nearest one is in Bethlehem. This is only 10 minutes away but because of all the checkpoints (in Palestinian land) and the wall it will take hours to get there. The doctors fear that many will die. Basically they just want the people to give up and leave.

The doctor admitted the situation is hopeless for them. I have seen hope in him, in Dawod, in Elias. These amazing Christian guys who reject the easy option of violence and decide to forgive and work towards a better future. However, they have all said the same thing to me that has been repeated by many people that I have met.....that dogs in Israel are worth more than people in Palestine.

From what I've seen I couldn't disagree and it keeps me awake at night.

Anyway, we cheered ourselves up by writing some grafitti on the wall!


Anonymous said...

you sister again!! its difficult to imagine what your going through and seeing everyday out there. I've even done a bit of research on the situation out there to help me understand a little better!

reading, trying to imagine whats its like out there and praying for u bro!

Anonymous said...

ahh the tent of nations! amazing place and people. but sounds like you need a wee break... have some water pipe and a beer at the tent...u may already have been there? if not-ask elias and lidia where!
prayers continuing-especially for some rest!

Anonymous said...

Israel and much of the middle-east has been well and truly screwed by the meddling of foreigners (especially Britain post 1945).
A sad, enduring mess. Loving your work. Maybe you'll extend your stay, as blogging about Lurgan won't just be as interesting...

Anonymous said...

hey mate, its been interesting reading about what you have been up too. long time reader, first time commenter. keep 'er lit

ricky said...

Rite John,

Interesting comments... glad you're having a good time.

Trying to sort out wiggy's stag! Can I count you in, 31st Aug-1st September?


Anonymous said...

The Lord will be a refuge for His people . There was a time when Gods people only comprised Israel . We are in the blessed position of knowing that this has widened now to include 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord 'Joel 2 v 32 .
This was my daily reading yesterday . May God bless the work of your hands as you minister to His people. Mum x

Anonymous said...

I love the photos!

Molar said... the grafitti mate! You are right. It is scary that those people feel that 'that dogs in Israel are worth more than people in Palestine'. This should all scare us. Is this not injustice at its rawest, most hateful form. Anyplace where human life is so degraded is a place that needs our prayers. You often don't see this side on the news!

Thank you John, and be safe (well as safe as one can be whilst grafitti-ing the wall!!!).


J-Mac said...

Cheers guys

Yeah ricky baby

Nina: Thanks for all your comments. I look forward to chatting to you when I get back. you should really start blogging!