In the West Bank, Staking a Claim for Peace

A sign at the entrance to the Nassar family farm reads: “We refuse to be enemies.”

In a land torn apart by conflict, hatred and violence, this farm is an oasis of peace. Called the Tent of Nations, it is a monument to the idea that Arabs and Jews can live together in harmony.

The Nassars, a Christian Palestinian family, hold children’s camps and other programs on the farm to promote understanding and nonviolence even as they struggle to save their land from confiscation by Israeli settlers. They quote Martin Luther King Jr. and provide a model of peacefulness for their Palestinian and Israeli neighbors alike.

“It’s very important for us to show that nonviolent resistance is the key to change,” said Daoud Nassar, who runs the farm with his siblings Amal and Daher and other family members. “With violence, people will achieve more violence, will achieve more hatred, will achieve more bitterness and more enemies.”

During a week of reporting in Israel and the West Bank, I was mostly discouraged — the region may get worse before it gets even worse — but the Nassars buoyed my spirits. They underscored that while it is the militants who make the headlines, innumerable people on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli divide are trying to bring peace and understanding to a region that lacks both.

It’s a challenge. The Nassars have just postponed a children’s camp session, partly because they fear violence from settlers who have periodically attacked the farm, uprooted their olive trees and occupied their land.

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