The Tent of Nations (aka “Nassar’s Farm”) is, or perhaps was, a small produce farm located southwest of Bethlehem, Palestine, and has been the subject of a decades-long property dispute with a set of Israeli settlers. I visited the farm back in August 2019, and had intended to return some day to do volunteer work there.
Given recent news of the farm’s tragic destruction by fire, very likely arson (see below), I now wonder whether a return to Nassar’s Farm is possible. I post the Facebook announcement below as an indication of what everyday life is like for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories–the undiscussed and unacknowledged injustices and tragedies that make up their everyday lives.
My own apartment burned down in 2002, so I can, in some dim way, understand what the Nassars are experiencing. That said, “my” fire was an accidental one caused by an electrical short circuit, with no suspicion of arson; it was doused by the local fire department, whose quick arrival saved the building; and the biggest expenses in the aftermath were handled by insurance or by kind gifts from friends.
By contrast, the Nassars’ fire is likely arson; there was no fire department to douse it; and there is no insurance to handle the expenses. The fire took place in a legally ambiguous part of the West Bank, so it’s not clear how any of it will be resolved—or whether any part can be. The only positive here is the possibility that help will be forthcoming from concerned friends. But that’s not much consolation under the circumstances.
I trawled through Facebook a bit and dug up my notes on and photos of the farm during my 2019 trip there; I’ll post that material in part (2) of this mini-series, if only as a remembrance of the place as it was, and a memorialization of what was lost.
Slightly edited after posting.