The entire premise of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence is that there’s power in using our privilege as Jews from the Diaspora to resist the occupation in solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent activists.
On May 19, 2014, the Israeli army uprooted hundreds of fruit trees on Daoud Nassar’s family farm, the Tent of Nations, located just south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. The Tent of Nations is an internationally known educational and environmental meeting center where people from around the world come together. The Nassar family has lived on this land for the last century, despite efforts by the Israeli government to displace them. During this time they have welcomed thousands of visitors from around the world, including hundreds of Jewish visitors from Encounter and other programs over the course of the last decade.
When the tree uprooting happened, Ilana Sumka, past Jerusalem director of Encounter, was asked to facilitate an international phone call with Daoud Nassar and Encounter alumni. When Ilana asked Daoud how Jews around the world could support him, Daoud replied: you could come replant the trees with us in a show of solidarity, to demonstrate that the Israeli Army’s bulldozers don’t represent your Jewish values.
Nine months later, in February 2015, twenty-five Jews from the US, Canada and Europe spent a week replanting trees on the farm and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence was born.
The Center for Jewish Nonviolence was founded on the premise that Jews from around the world standing in solidarity with Palestinians who are facing eviction from their homes and displacement from their land is both necessary and groundbreaking.
Activists from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence are united in their commitment to nonviolent activism, to a just and equitable end to the occupation and to the full equality and shared humanity of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
In its founding, the Center for Jewish Nonviolence recognized that coming together across political and ideological differences–such as BDS, Zionism and one-state/two-state solutions–can yield immense power in working to end the occupation. As a result, the Center established a ‘big-tent’ policy to embrace a diverse range of activists who work together to end the occupation and lift up the values of dignity, equality and shared humanity.