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Palestine, the olives,
identity and peace

Interview with Daoud Nassar,
Tent of Nations, Bethlehem, Palestine



Vicky Rossi

Comments directly to

November 29, 2006

Daoud Nassar is the owner of 100 acres of land nine kilometers southwest of Bethlehem. This land has been in the Nassar family since 1916 - family members used to the live in caves there - and it has been cultivated for olives, grapes and wheat. Nevertheless, in 1991 the Israeli military declared the land to be Israeli state property. The Nassar family was able to challenge Israel in the courts as fortunately they were in possession of all the original land ownership papers dating back to the Ottoman period. In 2001, although the legal case remained unresolved, the local council of Israeli settlements decided to build a road on the eastern side of the Nassar land. Then in 2002 the same council took the decision to build another road on the Nassar property, this time along the western side. It took all the efforts of the Nassars in the Israeli courts to stop both road projects; however the land ownership case is still being contested in the high court, where it has been repeatedly postponed.

We publish the interview on November 29, the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
There is much more material from Vicky Rossi's fact-finding mission and interview on her blog Visions of Peace and Reconciliation.

Excerpts of the interview with Daoud Nassar

“The olive trees are very important to us because they can live for many years, even generations. Their roots go deep into the earth. The olive tree is connected to our struggle for peace, justice and freedom because we, in the same way as the olive tree, have our roots here. So the Palestinians have a deep connection both to the land and to the olive trees.”

“Palestinians are living under Occupation and the Israelis are trying to confiscate as much land as possible through settlements, by-pass roads and in recent years the building of the Wall. The Wall is literally cutting the Palestinians from their fields. Many Palestinians can no longer go to pick the olives at harvest time because they cannot get freely to their fields. The Israelis make access for the olive farmers as difficult as possible by putting up road blocks etc., hoping Palestinians will become discouraged and abandon the land.”

“The big problem is that there are mostly Israeli products on the Palestinian market. I can say that this is also the fault of the Palestinians themselves. Of course the roadblocks are playing a role, but on the other hand the Palestinians don’t have a strong sense of, “Why not buy Palestinian products”. A friend of mine was visiting us from Italy. When he was in Ramallah he wanted to buy some olive oil. As you know we produce olive oil in this country, but he couldn’t find any olive oil from Palestine in the shops. Well, he found olive oil from Greece, from Spain but no Palestinian oil. Just imagine - we are selling imported products yet our own products have no market. […]

In my opinion in order to break this circle - to encourage farmers and to help them to stay on their land – we need to ensure that they have a guaranteed outlet for their harvest. This means organizing ourselves in such a way that we can say to the farmers, “OK, how many olives do you have? How much oil do you have? We will buy it from you, no problem. Just keep going, keep planting trees and don’t worry about the market. We will take care of the market for your products.” In many countries there is something like a farmers’ market. Why can’t we develop such a thing here?”

“The idea with the Tent of Nations is to offer this land with its very simple infrastructure as a place for encounters and meetings. We want people to come together here to build bridges. That’s the motto of the project: ‘Tent of Nations -People Building Bridges.’ We don’t want people to build walls. We want to bring people together on a simple plot of land in nature and to give them the opportunity to express their frustration in a constructive way.”

Continue and read the entire interview at "Visions of Peace and Reconciliation".
That's also where you will find the links to Tent of Nations and other sources.

In contrast to many ordinary journalistic accounts, Rossi lets the people she talks with speak
at length and foruses her interviews not only on the negative facts but also on the positive opportunities.
Thus, Rossi is exploring the potentials of peace journalism - perhaps precisely because she is not a
professionally trained journalist but a student researcher of peace and conflict resolution.

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