It’s 11 a.m. in Paris, the sun is not very warm today. The sky seems to cry out the madness of the world. It had been a lovely weekend, but today, the sky cries. It’s already 11 a.m. and I don’t want to wake up. I don’t want to face the rain and the tears of the trees, tears of the nature smashed by human insanity.
Daoud Nassar is writing to me. To us, all of us who can hear his call. He’s a Palestinian farmer and the owner of Daher’s Vineyard, an organic farm located on the hills southwest of Bethlehem. I know the place. I’ve stayed, lived and worked there. Daoud and his family, with the support of volunteers from many different countries, work with peace, understanding and reconciliation — day after day, to keep their land alive. At the farm, no one is an enemy. They just refuse this idea. The Nassars refuse to feel sorry for themselves, despite the fact that they have no running water, no electricity (they have to use solar panels) and no direct road connecting Bethlehem to the farm (the main road has been blocked with rocks by the Israeli army since 2002). Their farm is a glimmer of hope and a bridge between nations.
Nevertheless, in spite of their pacifism and their right to grow their own land — they have the original land registration papers from the time of Ottomans, British and Jordanians — on May 19, 2014, at 8 a.m., the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) decided that the 1500 fruit trees the Nassars had planted should now be smashed.
“Israeli bulldozers came to the fertile valley of the farm where we planted fruit trees 10 years ago, and destroyed the terraces and all our trees there. More than 1500 apricot and apple trees as well as grape plants were smashed and destroyed. We informed our lawyer who is preparing the papers for appeal.”
(Parts of an email sent by Daoud the next day).
According to the IDF, if you are a tree growing on land that’s not approved by them or the settlers, they see you as an outlaw. As a living being who does not deserve to live. Nowadays, they don’t even need to pass by the court to realise their sentence. Now, the bulldozer is the court.
It’s already 11 a.m. in Paris and I could think about the chapter 20, verse 19 of the Deuteronomy (the fifth book of the Torah). It says:
“When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human that they should be besieged by you?”
Here’s the appeal of the Nassars:
Destruction of Trees, from Sani Khoury, the attorney of the Nassar Family
The Nassar Family has been in a legal battle to protect its land and trees for many years.
A short while ago the Military Authorities placed a warning on the land of the Nassar Family declaring that the trees were planted on “State Land” and therefore constituted a trespass and should be “evacuated”!
On May 12 2014, the Nassar Family filed an appeal with the Military Court against the order and clarified that the land was not State Land and that the trees were planted on the family land. Furthermore they clarified that the Supreme Court had declared that the Nassar Family should continue with the “re-registration” process of their land. The Nassar Family has being trying to complete the process for years — however the Israel Military Land Registrar has been delaying the process endlessly without any explanation.
According to the law no demolition or evacuation is allowed once an appeal is filed and until a final verdict. In spite of the fact that an appeal was filed on May 12 2014, and no verdict has been issued the Military Authorities rushed to destroy the land and uproot all of the trees on May 19 2014!
This action is illegal even according to the draconian military laws in place. The Nassar Family have been advised to file a case demanding compensation for the illegal actions of the Military Authorities.