About Holy Land Trust

Holy Land Trust is a non-profit Palestinian organization committed to fostering peace, justice and understanding in the Holy Land. We are deeply committed to exploring the root causes of violence and seek to develop solutions to address them. We believe that true peace and justice is achieved through nonviolent activism, personal and spiritual transformation. We believe in honoring the dignity and equal rights of all peoples.

Founded by Internationally known peace activist Sami Awad, Holy Land Trust has over 20 years of experience working in nonviolence, peacemaking, and creating awareness of the social and political conditions in the Holy Land. What makes Holy Land Trust unique is our focus on personal transformation and addressing the spiritual trauma that prevents a just and lasting peace. Holy Land Trust is neither a political nor a religious organization but seeks to practice and live a life motivated by unconditional love and not fear.


Holy Land Trust was founded In 1998 by Sami Awad, the nephew of Nonviolence International's founder Mubarak Awad. Their current team includes Executive Director Elias Deis, Creative Manager Said Zarzar, Bet Lahem Live Director Lara Mitri, and Sami Awad, whose current role is Programs Director. HLT is headquartered in Bethlehem, where they have operated since the organization's founding.


What is the Holy Land?

The Holy Land refers to an area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The world’s three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, find their origins here. The inhabitants have shared the land for thousands of years as each of the religions maintains at least one of their most sacred sites within the sacred area. Throughout history, religious groups have disputed and even fought over claims to the Holy Land and its inhabitants.


To foster peace, justice, understanding, healing and transformation to all peoples in the Holy Land.


Our vision is to see a lasting and just peace in the Holy Land grounded by honoring the dignity and rights of all peoples.


HLT believes that a lasting and just peace is achievable in the Holy Land and that its communities can live together with dignity, equality, and respect. To reach such a goal, HLT operates under the following values:

  • Personal Transformation: We understand that most decisions humanity makes are motivated by past experiences. World leaders make decisions affecting hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Thus, we seek leadership that honors, respects, and learns from the past, but also recognizes an inspired future vision not driven by past trauma or hate.

  • Understanding Trauma: We believe that healing collective and inherited traumas are key to peacemaking. Fear only enhances and strengthens structures of control, separation, and segregation, which merely produces more violence.

  • Nonviolence: We invest in a deep commitment to nonviolence as a strategic and holistic means to resolving all conflicts, to resisting all forms of oppression, and to giving a voice to the marginalized and vulnerable.

  • Awareness and Advocacy: We see the importance of accountability in the global community. While ending the occupation and injustice is the responsibility of local communities, major global decisions and policies have affected and continue to affect this region. Coming, learning, serving, building knowledge, and advocating for peace and justice when returning home is key to achieving peace and justice.


Elias Deis // Executive Director

Holy Land Trust’s E.D., Elias Deis has worked for over a decade at Holy Land Trust. He was formally the Travel & Encounter Program Director and serves on the Beit Sahour City Council.

Lara Mitri // BLF Director

Lara Mitri is the Bethlehem Live Festival Director, ensuring that the festival creates an inclusive space that promotes a message of social justice on a global scale.

Said Zarzar // Creative Manager

Said Zarzar is the Creative Manager of Holy Land Trust, organizing the event planning for Bet Lahem Live, as well as the lead coordinator for the Travel & Encounter Department.

Sami Awad // Founder | Programs Developer

Sami Awad, the founder and former executive director of Holy Land Trust, has spent a lifetime working the infield of community development and leadership training.

Dima Hayek // Fnancial Manager

Dima graduated from Bethlehem University with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 2007. Dima has worked for Holy Land Trust since 2010. Dima enjoys working at Holy Land Trust because she is able to be part of an organization that has a vision and a plan to pursues peace in the Holy Land, a peace she believes will come one day.

Thomas Trischler // Development Manager

Thomas works for the Civil Peace Service Program (CPS) of the German Government and helps us to bring our vision and mission to new audiences. He organizes HLT's participation at speaking tours, trade fairs, and other occasions in Germany. He holds a master's degree in Political Science and Psychology from Potsdam University in Germany.

Adnan Al Araj // Guest Services

Many don’t know but He has been with Holy Land Trust almost since the beginning. For twenty years Adnan has served with full heart and commitment. If you ask him, he does say he just cleans and serves guests, he says he does everything to make everyone working or visiting the organization feel as if they are in their second home.

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