Suffering, Daoud Nassar and How 2,000 Fruit Trees Threaten the State of Israel

Daoud "We reuse to be enemies"Last week at this time I was awakened by my wife from an oxycodone- induced stupor due to a middle of the night  attack of acute kidney stone pain as I attempted to pass the stone. ( I would pass this stone and a second stone a few days later after a few more episodes of acute renal colic and several more oxycodone pills ). My wife announced that there was tragic news: Daoud Nassar’s farm had been attacked by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and 1,500 -2,ooo mature fruit- bearing trees, soon to be harvested had been destroyed by armorized Caterpillar bulldozers, made in the U.S., paid for by our tax dollars. We received the news from Michael Spath, Executive Director of the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace (ICMEP). On a trip to Israel/Palestine in 2012 led by Michael , my wife Janie and I and our group visited Daoud Nassar’s farm ,Tent of Nations, and met with Daoud. I found this visit to Daoud’s farm was the highlight of the trip and his farm to be the holiest site in what is known as the Holy Land. Daoud is a Palestinian Christian who, while on a speaking tour to the U.S. in November 2012, stayed at our home. He is the best example , the epitome, of a true follower of Jesus : loving , gentle, faithful, forceful, committed to non-violence with a motto “We Refuse to Be Enemies”, hopeful in the face of relentless , violent, oppressive harassment by the State of Israel in their attempt to steal the land his family has owned since the early 1900’s. His story is told by his dear friend Mark Braverman in the introduction to Braverman’s book Fatal Embrace which you can read here  Mark has also become a friend and mentor to me. Mark is an American Jewish psychologist , raised on the Zionist narrative, who viewed the Israeli occupation of Palestine first hand in 2006 and has made it his life’s work to help end this oppressive, unjust , illegal Israeli occupation. I have heard Mark, who is himself a fervent follower of Rabbi Jesus, that he considers Daoud to be , for him, like Jesus.

Note: this a long blog, with many links.  Please see the embedded you tube video of Daoud at the very end, below the Jump.


Daoud destroyed farmAnother mentor and now friend is Rabbi Brent Rosen, who like Braverman, is a Jew of Conscience, who opposes the secular , political concept that is Zionism. You can read a very detailed account of this attack on Daoud’s farm and Daoud’s story at Rosen’s blog Shalom Rav here. This is a thorough account of this tragic event , with links, photos, a suggested letter of response. Please take time to read it. The Mondoweiss account is here. Rabbi Rosen’s own story is quite compelling and perhaps the best way to get a sense of his story is to read this interview in Truthout here and in his blog postings.

Suffering: Necessary and Unnecessary

These past eight months I have had three major orthopedic surgeries, complicated with two bouts of the opportunistic  G.I. infection Clostridium difficile, and recently the two kidney stones. I still have pain and discomfort at times which I hope will in time resolve. I have recovered well from much of this hardship, but I still have a ways to g0. As a retired orthopedic surgeon, I know all the complications that can occur and I’ve had a few of them.My mind goes wild with the fear and anxiety of what might be. I have suffered these past few months, but I have created more suffering in my mind through fear:suffering that never actually occurred. I have turned to another mentor of mine, Fr. Richard Rohr on this subject of what he calls “necessary suffering.” On page 73 of his book Falling Upward, Rohr quotes Carl Jung who said “that so much unnecessary suffering comes into the world because people will not accept the ‘legitimate suffering’ that comes from being human. That brilliant psychologist Jesus stated that “anyone who wants to save his life, must lose it. Anyone who loses her life will find it. What gain is there if you win the whole world and lose your very self? What can you offer in exchange for your one life?”  Rohr, in much of his work, teaches that the role of true religion and spirituality is union with the divine. He says “our True Self is who we objectively are,’Hidden with Christ in God and when he is revealed-and he is your life- you too will be revealed in all your glory with him’  (Colossians 3:3).” This is our divine life, what we were created to be, that lives forever.  Rohr goes on to say that “Jesus and most other great spiritual teachers make it very clear that there is a self that has to be found and one that has to be let go of or even’ renounced’ “. What needs to die is our ego ( small self, or the False Self which is not the bad self just the bogus self).It will die eventually. That’s what Jesus means” to lose one’s life in order to gain one’s life. Rohr used his daily devotional on April 1, 2014 to write:

Sooner or later, if you are on any classic “spiritual schedule,” some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter your life that you simply cannot deal with, using your present skill set, your acquired knowledge, or your strong willpower. Spiritually speaking, you will be, you must be, led to the edge of your own private resources. At that point, you will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it (Isaiah 8:14). You will and you must “lose” at something. This is the only way that Life-Fate-God-Grace-Mystery can get you to change, let go of your egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey.
We must stumble and fall, I am sorry to say. We must be out of the driver’s seat for a while, or we will never learn how to give up control to the Real Guide. It is the necessary pattern. Until we are led to the limits of our present game plan, and find it to be insufficient, we will not search out or find the real source, the deep well, or the constantly flowing stream. Alcoholics Anonymous calls it the Higher Power. Jesus calls this Ultimate Source the “living water” at the bottom of the well (John 4:10-14).
The Gospel was able to accept that life is tragic, but then graciously added that we can survive and will even grow from this tragedy. This is the great turnaround! It all depends on whether we are willing to see down as up; or as Jung put it, that “where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold.” Lady Julian of Norwich said it even more poetically: “First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall. Both are the mercy of God!”
Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the T wo Halves of Life

So I have been thinking , reading ,and  praying about suffering, my fears of growing old and not getting the healthy good results from my surgeries as I had hoped to . I have stumbled upon some answers, some insights that I will perhaps share in upcoming blog postings.

So what about Daoud Nassar , the Israeli occupation and suffering. Is the suffering he is experiencing necessary or unnecessary?

Justice, Balance,Kumbaya and Security for the State of Israel

Daoud Nassar and his family and untold others have suffered: since the Nakba of 1948, since  the occupation of Palestine by Israel in 1967. (Yes, in spite of what Israel says, it is an illegal occupation). He has been harassed by Israel since the early 1990’s by their attempts to seize his family farm. Observing the character of this man, the “Christ-likeness ” of this man, I would say that he has emerged from the crucible of this necessary suffering, this legitimate suffering, in the sense of what we all must go through in life, a transformed man, one closer to God and his master , Jesus. Rohr says two things especially apropos to this:” if we do not transform our pain, we most assuredly will  transmit it”; and” transformed people transform people.”

The State of Israel is inflicting unnecessary pain  and suffering onto Daoud Nassar and his family and millions of Palestinians and others with their brutal , unjust, illegal occupation of Palestine.

Marcus Borg asks this question: why is the God of the Bible passionate about of justice and peace? His answer: “because the greatest sources of unnecessary human misery or suffering are economic injustice and war.

What the state of Israel is doing is not Torah. Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[or compassion]
and to walk humbly with your God?

So what do our political and religious leaders do ? They talk about balance, and peace talks, and “positive investment in the West Bank” not BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) . They give Israel three billion dollars of armaments a year, they sell them Caterpillar armorized bulldozers to uproot trees and tear down Palestinian homes and crush 23 year old activists (see Rachel Corrie).


rachel bull d2







This is not about a “balanced approach”. This is total imbalance: between a nuclear armed occupier and  the  oppressed occupied.

Remember, Jesus was a peasant Jew of Palestine, oppressed and occupied, and with his fellow Jews with “his back against the wall”.

This is about injustice.

As philosopher and theologian Slavoj Zizek says in his brilliant essay “What goes on when nothing goes on?” in the book The Case for Sanctions Against Israel :

What goes on in the Middle East when nothing goes on there at the direct politico-military level (i.e. when are no tensions, attacks, negotiations)? What goes on is the incessant slow work of taking the land from the Palestinians in the West Bank, the gradual strangling of the Palestinian economy, the parceling of their land, the building of new settlements, the pressure on Palestinian farmers to make them abandon their land(which goes from crop destruction and religious desecration up to individual killings), all this supported by a Kafkaesque network of legal regulations…. Is it is ultimately enforced by the armed forces (IDF ), it is an “occupation by bureaucracy”: its primary forms are application forms, title deeds, residency papers, and other permits….. One has to ask for a permit to leave with one’s family, farm one’s own land, to dig a well, to go to work, to school, to a hospital…One by one, Palestinians born in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank or not stripped of the right to live there, preventing from earning a living, denied housing permits, and so on.

Please read this last quote again and think of Daoud. This is his life.

the Wall

So when you see the Pope lean his head on the Isareli Apartheid Wall that ravages Bethlehem and the West Bank and lays a wreath on the tomb of Zionist founder Theodore Herzl; when you hear some of the  bishops in my church, the Episcopal Church, praying prayers of Kumbaya for peace and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church praying for balance and positive investment and voting against non-violent BDS, think of this quote from Zizek’s essay:



Palestinians often use the problematic cliché of the Gaza Strip as “the greatest concentration camp in the world -however, this designation his come dangerously close to truth. This is the fundamental reality which makes all abstract ‘prayers for peace’ obscene and hypocritical. (emphasis mine)

Pope head on wall

So I will end with words from Daoud himself that I transcribed from the embedded video, We Refuse to Be Enemies :

We said that we are people who believe in justice. And one day the Son of Justice will rise again, sooner or later. We refuse to be victims and we refuse to hate because we believe that people are created in the Image of God and they are not created to hate each other. So we create a fourth way of action which is the Jesus way: to overcome evil with good, hatred with love, and darkness with light, under the slogan, “we refuse to be enemies”.

And when we tell people how it is possible to love your neighbors as yourselves and when we act in a different way  (the Jesus way),we force the other to see us as human beings.

We are trying to go along with our vision in small steps: It is like a farmer using the horse to plow. He is not allowed to look backwards because the moment he looks behind, the line won’t be straight. So he has to focus on his vision, but go slowly, slowly. This is what we are learning to do here. But the suffering is not the end of the story but it can be seen as a path to achieve the goals and vision. Always we need to keep faith, hope and proper love. Those three words together are the foundation of our work here. So without faith, without hope, without love, nothing can be done.

The suffering is not the end of the story but it can be seen as a path to achieve the goals and vision.

So if you are so inclined, pray for Daoud and work for peace everywhere.

And ask yourself these questions : How does destroying 2,000 of Daoud’s fruit trees and ruining the terraces of his farm so he cannot plant there again, enhance the security of the State of Israel. And after reading this and seeing and hearing Daoud in the following video, does he strike you as a terrorist? Who are the terrorists in this tragedy?

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