Peacemakers in Palestine

Canaan Fair Trade (Burqin, Jenin and farms all over the West Bank)

Canaan Fair Trade exists to benefit the farming communities of Palestine. President Nasser Abufarha: “Before we began, farmers here were selling their olive oil for 23% less than it costs them to harvest it (8 shekels per kilo). Now that we’re able to sell our oil around the world, our growers are earning 22 shekels per kilo, enabling us to earn a living from the farm crafts our families have practiced for generations. Our motto is 'Insisting On Life'".
Nasser Abufarha

A number of solidarity communities sell tree sponsorships, and the Trees for Life project is solely funded by grassroots movements abroad. This project helps offset the enormous destruction of olive trees by the Israeli occupation army in Palestine.”

In addition to helping farmers stay on their land and generate income, Canaan Fair Trade also supports farming families and communities through the Canaan Scholarship program. Canaan Scholarships is part of an investment in leadership that extends four years of tuition at Palestinian universities to children of farmers. The Canaan Scholarship Fund prioritizes qualified students from marginalized rural and refugee communities whose parents did not attend college.

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Susiya Village (Hebron)

Susiya is a village of tents and caves in the southern part of the Hebron Hills. Its residents have been forcibly evicted four times, and the village is right now under demolition order. Since their legal battle began in 1986, the 60 original families are now down to half of their original number. Rabbis for Human Rights and Israeli and international human rights groups and activists are supporting the village against the Israeli government's policies and settler movement, which are trying to claim the southern Hebron Hills.

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Tent of Nations (Bethlehem)

The Tent of Nations is a Palestinian family farm located south of Bethlehem. It is owned by Daoud Nasser, and his family has the original deeds of ownership from the Ottomans, the British and the Jordanians.

In 1991 the Israeli military initiated proceedings to expropriate the Nasser’s farm, which is located between two Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion Block. Daoud’s legal battle has gone on for well over two decades – and the Nassar family has spent over $140,000 in legal fees to date. Last May, the Israeli military issued several demolition orders because the Nassers added minor additions to their property. Thanks to an international solidarity campaign, they were granted a stay by the Israeli courts. Their case is ongoing in the Israeli courts.

Daoud Nasser
In the meantime, the Nassar family has used their land to establish the Tent of Nations inspirational center that provides arts, drama, and education to the children of the villages and refugee camps of the region. Daoud and his family have also established a Women’s Educational Center offering classes in computer literacy, English, and leadership training.  Many pastors and rabbis are familiar with Tent of Nations as a primary destination for Encounter– a well-known educational program that promotes coexistence by introducing Jewish Diaspora leaders to Palestinian life.
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Wadi Fuqin Village (Bethlehem) 

After the establishment of the State of Israel, the village of Wadi Fuqin was twice demolished and in 1954, its residents were forced out to Dheisheh refugee camp in nearby Bethlehem. Thirteen years later, Israel occupied the area and began investing in settlement projects that swallowed up residents’ agricultural lands.

Today, Wadi Fukin has grown from a population of several hundred to more than 1,238 people, surrounded on three sides by towering Jewish-only settlements built in part on the village’s confiscated land. The series of walls, towers, barbed wire and patrol roads that Israel is erecting around Palestinian communities in the West Bank  is slated to run along the fourth side of the village, placing Wadi Fukin in an isolated enclave. In 2009, Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, California formed the Friends of Wadi Fuqin group, and supported a Beehive Project in the village. As of February 2010, 23 beehives have been sponsored for the cultivation of honey as a means of economic survival.
Ibrahim Manasra, farmer

Wadi Fouqin has a partnership with an Israeli town just across the green line, Tzur Hadassah, whose residents buy produce from Wadi Fouqin and an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordan human rights organization, Friends of the Earth Middle East, which is currently challenging the route of the wall.

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Marda Permaculture Farm (Marda, Salfit) 

The Marda Permaculture Farm is located in the village of Marda, just below the settlement of Ariel. The permaculture program was started by Murad Alkofash, who sought to address his village's economic crisis at an individual and community level, promoting a range of permaculture techniques so that Marda residents can provide their own sustenance and employment. 

The farm practices sustainable design principles and techniques such as rainwater harvesting, water and energy conservation, and small scale organic gardening. In addition to providing training for the local community, the Marda Permaculture Farm is developing a sustainable income stream through permaculture training courses for a wider international audience.

Murad Alkufash
Owner Murad Alkofash started the permaculture program so that Marda residents could stay steadfast on their land, and gain independence from Israeli markets and settlement jobs. His vision is to help people utilize their land, stay healthy, and bring people together from a variety of backgrounds to learn permaculture together.

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Hope Flowers School (Al Khader, Bethlehem)

The Hope Flowers School teaches non-violence, citizenship, social and community skills to children aged 5-14. It also works with trauma-recovery and special needs education.
In 1999, the school was issued with a demolition order because of its proximity to the proposed Israeli separation wall. After submitting reports, attending meetings with the Israeli Civil Administration and continuous international pressure, the order to demolish was rescinded. The school applied for an Israeli building permit the same year and was successful, but the fee for issuing and validating the permit was too high. The directors of the school are still in a legal battle with the nearby expanding Israeli settlement of Efrat.

Ibrahim Issa
The Israeli separation wall has isolated the Hope Flowers School and now prevents Israelis from visiting the school, which has been known as a home for peace education with bridge-building programs that have reached out to thousands of Palestinians and Israelis.

Director Ibrahim Issa: "We summarize our work here in three words: peace, freedom, education. Our aim is to create a generation here who lives entirely in democratic freedom with our neighbors. And this is what we want, to be free like all the other people in the world, to participate in creating this generation."

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Jordan Valley Solidarity 

Jordan Valley Solidarity campaign is a network of Palestinian grassroots community groups from all over the Jordan Valley and international supporters. Its aims are to protect Palestinian existence and the unique environment of the Jordan Valley by building international support and supporting communities on the ground. This includes monitoring, recording and aiming to prevent demolitions, land confiscations, and abuse of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli occupation.

The situation in the Jordan Valley is very serious.  The Israeli military occupation since 1967 has been attempting to gradually annex the area (which is 28% of the occupied West Bank). Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Olmert both declared that Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley, and the army is fulfilling this promise by by expanding illegal settlements and trying to drive Palestinians from their land through house demolitions, movement restrictions, curfews, arbitrary arrest and detention, land confiscations, and denial of access to water, electricity, health and education.

Partnering with Machsom Watch and Brighton Palestine Solidarity, JVS's activities center around non-violent actions that strengthen the steadfastness of Palestinians in the Valley. Activities include building schools, rebuilding demolished homes, clearing roads, and providing resources and on-the-ground presence to vulnerable valley communities.

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Al Aqaba Village (Tubas)

Al Aqaba is a small, peaceful village in the Northern Jordan Valley with a painful history and an inspiring message. Since 1967 the village has been located within an Israeli military zone. Twelve villagers have been killed during training exercises, and dozens more wounded. In 1971, Haj Sami Sadeq was shot by soldiers while working in his family's fields and has been wheelchair-bound since the age of sixteen. Most of Al Aqaba been slated for demolition since its kindergarten was built an American non-profit (Rebuilding Alliance) in 2003, and in the last two years, the Israeli army has demolished two homes, two barns and two major roads. The village is unable to obtain building permits, and its third master plan was rejected by the Israeli Civil Administration in 2011.

Haj Sami Sadeq
As mayor, Haj Sami has helped Al Aqaba village build and plan for a better future, and his message is one of peace and hospitality. Over the last ten years the village has attracted investment from 17 different embassies and international organizations, which have supported their kindergarten, sewing cooperative, tea factory, women’s society, and agricultural initiatives. The Al Aqaba Guest House also welcomes Palestinian, Israeli and international visitors and volunteers.

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