Where an Olive Tree Burns | Sojourners

Where an Olive Tree Burns

On a 100-acre farm southwest of Bethlehem, a Palestinian family lives out a commitment to reconciliation and nonviolence.
Illustration of a Cypress tree with a bulldozer coming up behind it
Illustration by Michael George Haddad

TENT OF NATIONS, a 100-acre farm southwest of Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestine, has been in the Nassar family since their grandfather bought it more than a century ago. The family’s attempts to hold onto their land and prevent settlers from taking it over has been an ongoing battle—not only within the realm of the legal system. The Nassar family has had to physically defend their land, nonviolently, from repeated encroachments and attacks, which have included the burning and uprooting of their olive trees, the bulldozing of their plants, harassment and intimidation, and constant attempts to destroy the few physical structures they set up. The family’s persistence in remaining on the land has been one of the most remarkable examples of Palestinian sumud (or steadfastness) I have seen.

The story of their resistance is not just a political story of one Palestinian family’s assertion of its ancestral rights. The Nassar family members are devout Lutherans, deeply committed Christians who attempt to live out their faith in practice. They have used their property as a tangible example of their Christ-centered commitment to peace, reconciliation, and nonviolence.

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