Holy Land report: Christian family that refuses to give up its farm


WE REFUSE TO BE ENEMIES

WE REFUSE TO BE ENEMIES

A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for 98 years. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance - Daniel Silas Adamson reports for the BBC from Bethlehem.

On his farm outside Bethlehem, Daher Nassar is picking apples from the ruins of the orchard he planted at least eight years ago. The fruit is scattered across ground freshly opened and imprinted with the tracks of a bulldozer. At the field's edge, branches reach out from inside a mound of earth, the bark stripped and mangled, unripe almonds still clinging to the trees.

On 19 May a Palestinian shepherd from the village of Nahalin was out at first light and saw the bulldozer at work in the field, guarded by Israeli soldiers. By the time Nassar arrived the whole orchard - the best part of a decade's work - was gone. His English is far from fluent, but there's no mistaking the pain in his voice: "Why you broke the trees?"

A spokesperson for the Israeli military authorities in the West Bank said the trees were planted illegally on state land.

Nassar's sister, Amal, has a different explanation. The government, together with the Israeli settlers who live around the farm, is "trying to push us to violence or push us to leave," she says. Amal insists that her family will not move from the land, nor will they abandon their commitment to peaceful resistance.

"Nobody can force us to hate," she says. "We refuse to be enemies."

That phrase, which is painted on a stone at the entrance to the farm, was first used by her father, Bishara Nassar. Long before the concept became widely known among Palestinians, he taught his children a theory of non-violence that was rooted in his own Christian beliefs.

Read  Daniel Silas Adamson's full report here: www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27883685


Tags: Bethlehem, Daher Nassar, Daniel Silas Adamson, We refuse to be enemies

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