Commemorating Land Day
by Stephen Lendman
On March 30, Palestinians worldwide observe Land Day. They’ve done so since 1976.
Nationwide protests and general strike action erupted. At issue was Israel’s land confiscation policy and brutal occupation harshness.
In early 1975, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin announced plans to Judaize the Galilee. “Developing the Galilee,” he called it.
He wanted to transform it into a majority Jewish region, construct eight industrial estates, and develop its economy exclusively for Jews. Doing so required dispossessing Arab citizens.
In 1976, General Yisrael Koenig headed Israel’s northern region. In March, he prepared a secret report. It recommended encouraging Jewish immigrants. He wanted them populating the Galilee and Negev regions. He wanted Israeli Arabs removed to accommodate them.
Confiscating 60,000 dunums of Arab-owned Galilee land was planned. Rabin claimed doing so was for “security and settlement purposes.”
Demonstrations were declared illegal. Israeli Arabs ignored threats. They rallied. Thousands of security forces confronted them. They did so violently. Six Palestinians died. Dozens more were injured. Hundreds were arrested.
Police states operate that way. Israel’s one of the worst.
Land Day 1976 was special. Israeli Arabs resisted. They did so en masse for the first time. They protested internal colonization. They showed political awareness. They defied Israeli ruthlessness. They did so courageously. They showed they’d no longer be ignored.
In 1948, Israel stole 78% of Palestine. In 1967, they took the rest. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains the longest unresolved one of our time.
Israeli Arabs comprise 20% of Israel’s population. They’re treated like fifth column threats. From 1948 – 1966, they lived under military rule. It applied only to them. They’re Israeli citizens. It didn’t matter.
Their fundamental freedoms were restricted. Many were denied. Israel prevented attempts to organize internal pan-Arab cohesion. Divide and rule reflects policy.
So is land confiscation. By 1993, over 80% of Arab-owned land was stolen. Today it approaches 90%. Palestinians were displaced. Jews replaced them.
Land Day reflects Palestine’s struggle. Militarized occupation is rejected. So are illegal settlements.
Land Day matters. Israel Arab rights are spurned. Longterm occupation is illegal. Palestine’s an isolated prison. State terror is official Israeli policy. The price of freedom involves resistance.
Over a million Palestinians are Israeli citizens. They live mainly in the Little Triangle along the Green Line, the Galilee and Negev desert. They suffer hugely. Unemployment is high. Little government support compensates. Their needs are largely ignored.
Dozens of discriminatory laws harm them. Restrictive planning policies limit residential building and commercial development. Most Arab citizens have no viable options.
Bedouin Israelis live in dozens of Negev villages. They’re unrecognized. They’re denied essential services. They’re targeted for dispossession. Israel plans stealing their land for Jews.
On March 30, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters. They did so violently. In Jayyus east of Qalqiliya, hundreds of Palestinians gathered to plant trees. They did so to commemorate Land Day.
Israeli forces confronted them. They fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Dozens were hurt. Similar incidents occurred across the West Bank. Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian near Rafah.
Palestinian National Initiative Secretary-General Mustafa Barghouti said Land Day shouldn’t be restricted to March 30. “Every day is Land Day for our people.”
It reflects “our battle with the occupation that steals our land and our future. The only way to respond is by escalating popular resistance.”
Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib said “armed struggle is the means to liberate the Palestinian land.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Palestinians should resist until “all Palestine is liberated.”
On March 14, the BDS Movement
for Freedom, Justice and Equality headlined “Land Day: Celebrate Resistance and Intensify BDS.”
“Land Day presents opportunity to develop campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, particularly campaigns targeting the Jewish National Fund, Israeli agribusinesses and companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements, all of which play a vital role in the continued theft of Palestinian land.”
“The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) invites people of conscience across the world to join us in marking land day by highlighting BDS as an effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.”
“At a time when Israel is facing unprecedented levels of pressure over its continued colonization of Palestinian land and quickly losing the international support upon which it depends, let us work together to intensify our collective efforts to hold Israel and its supporters accountable.”
On March 30, Haaretz
headlined “Palestinians get ready to mark Land Day,” saying:
Ahead of Saturday demonstrations, hundreds of Israeli Arabs rallied in Taibeh on Friday. They did so with Knesset members.
They protested discriminatory Israeli land policies. MK Ahmed Tibi said they’re an “obstacle in the state’s treatment of the Arabs, which is characterized by exclusion, expropriation and a lack of appropriate and modern forward planning.”
Main commemoration events include rallies in Sakhhin, the Negev, and protests against plans to resettle Israeli Bedouins.
The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee coordinates Israeli Arab political actions. It issued a statement saying “Israel continues with its policies to take more and more land from the Arab public.”
On March 30, Palestine’s legitimate prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh
“We reject resettlement in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, or the Sinai. “There is no alternative to the land of Palestine.”
Palestinians face ongoing political, economic, military and scoundrel media strangulation. It’s done force them to sacrifice what’s rightfully theirs.
Obama’s visit to Israel confirmed his one-sided anti-Palestinian bias. They’re on their own. Their liberating struggle continues.
On March 29, the BADIL
Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights said “Palestinians are unified by their cultural and physical rootedness to their land.”
“In jarring contradiction, Palestinians are categorically denied their individual and collective rights within that homeland.”
“The State of Israel has maintained a policy of forcible transferring Palestinians from their homeland, a continuous process of creating refugees and internally displaced people: what BADIL refers to as the Ongoing Nakba.”
Land Day 2013 “is an occasion for renewing the call to confront violent policies of racial-based exclusion.”
“Challenging the concerted effort to segregate and isolate Palestinians requires non-compliance with the permit system and other illegitimate administrative regulations imposed on Palestinians.”
It “requires developing Palestinian life in threatened areas.” It demands resistance.
Rashid Hussein (1936 – 1977) was a noted Palestinian poet. In 1959, he participated in founding the Land Movement. His poems reflected his passion.
“With the Land” says:
The land comes near me
drinks from me
leaves its orchards with me
to become a beautiful weapon
Even when I sleep
the land comes near me
in my dream.
I smuggle its wild thyme
I sing its stones
I will even sweat blood
from my veins
to drink its news
so the land comes near me
leaves a stone of love with me
to defend it
and defend me
When I repay it
I will embrace it a thousand times
I will worship it a thousand times
I will celebrate its wedding on my forehead
on the rubble of exiles
and the ruins of prisons
I will drink from it
It will drink from me
So that the Galilee would remain
beauty, struggle, and love
I see the land;
a morning that will come
and the land will come near me
“Without a Passport” says:
I was born without a passport
I grew up
and saw my country
without a passport
So I raised a country
in every house
I tended to the trees therein
I learned how to write poetry
to make the people of my village happy
without a passport
I learned that he whose land is stolen
does not like the rain
If he were ever to return to it, he will
without a passport
But I am tired of minds
that have become hotels
for wishes that never give birth
except with a passport
Without a passport
I came to you
and revolted against you
so slaughter me
perhaps I will then feel that I am dying
without a passport
Remember Palestine. Its people yearn to be free. Their liberating struggle matters. Their struggle is ours.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
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