Holy Land: Christian family farm faces demolition

'We refuse to be enemies'

'We refuse to be enemies'

On Thursday, May 27, the 'Tent of Nations', a 100-acre family farm near Bethlehem,  received nine demolition orders from Israeli civil authorities to destroy buildings, animal shelters, the water system, and even the toilets.   The family has had three days to appeal the order ending today, Sunday, May 30. The bulldozers may already have arrived as the midnight deadline passed.

An extended family has been on the farm since 1916 and has legal documents to prove their ownership of the land from the time of the Ottoman Empire.  For nearly a century they have continued to struggle to prove their ownership, living under the constant threat of having their land confiscated.

This prime agricultural land has been the target of violence from the five surrounding Israeli settlements.  The landowner has been offered millions of dollars for the land, in order that new settlements may be built, but he refuses to sell stating that "this land is our Mother, we cannot sell her."

This Christian family farm has welcomed people of various cultures and faiths in an attempt to build bridges of friendship and peace.  Their work includes a reconciliation program to bring youth from various backgrounds together (including Israelis and Palestinians), a tree planting program to bring people together to work in solidarity for justice and peace, as well as vocational training to empower local youth and women.

International Christian Peacemakers have asked readers to contact their political leaders in an eleventh-hour appeal to stop the demolition.

They write: "We cannot allow this light on a hill to dim. We cannot allow their voices to be silenced."

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world.  To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, see: www.cpt.org

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