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March 30 – Land Day in Palestine and the International BDS Campaign

March 30, 2011

March 30 is the international day of action in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) against Israel for its ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

People all around the world today have organized public acts of resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation, such as educational events, flash mobs, boycotts of companies like Caterpillar and a new campaign to target the Jewish National Fund will kick off today.

The International BDS Campaign is modeled on the anti-Apartheid Movement that eventually brought down the Apartheid government of South Arica. This movement includes the boycott of specific companies, divestment from banks and financial systems and other institutions, which are profiting from or doing business with the State of Israel and a call for international sanctions against Israel until it ends the decades long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The 30th of March was chosen as the day to bring attention to the BDS campaign because this is the day that Palestinians commemorate as Land Day. It is also a day that Palestinians remember the Nakba. The Nakba commemorates the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948 by Israeli forces.

The Israeli government just passed laws that make it illegal for Palestinians to participate in such commemorations or to engage in the international BDS campaign.

Land Day has a rich history. Palestinian author and activist Mazin Qumsiyeh writes about this rich history of Land Day in his book Popular Resistance in Palestine:

“Away from politics, grassroots efforts were functioning. The increased mobilization among Palestinians inside the Green Line took a dramatic and bold step forward with a large meeting in August 1975 in Nazareth attended by 110 individuals to defend the land. At this meeting, a committee was selected, headed by Anees Kardoush, to prepare for an even larger meeting.

This meeting, held in October 1975, included about 5,000 activists from many factions and created the Committee for Defense of the Land (Lajnat Al-Difa’ ’An Al-Aradi) with 100 members and an eleven-member secretariat. It began by protesting against the confiscation of 22,000 dunums in the Galilee and the declaration of an even larger parcel of land belonging to three villages (in the Al-Mil area) as closed military zones, with the intention of building nine Jewish settlements in this closed zone. A meeting was held in Nazareth on March 6, 1976. This included 48 heads of municipalities and local village councils and called for a day of protests and strikes on March 30, 1976 should Israel go ahead with its land confiscation policies. When it appeared the strike would take place, many areas outside of the Galilee joined it, including in the West Bank.

This became known as ‘Land Day’ throughout Palestine. The events actually started on March 29, when a demonstration against the Israeli army’s provocative mobilizations in the village of Deir Hanna. Later that evening the village of Araba Al-Batoof demonstrated in solidarity and a young man, Khair Muhammad Yassin, was killed by Israeli soldiers. He was the first martyr of the 1976 Land Day. More martyrs fell over the next 24 hours. The events were well organized and participation was high. The Israeli authorities reacted violently. Many were injured, six nonviolent protesters killed and hundreds arrested.

The events coincided with the secret Koening Memorandum which laid out plans for further discrimination and ethnic cleansing to ‘make the Galilee more Jewish’. The

Israeli government condemned the leaking of the memorandum, but no government official repudiated its racist content. After this successful popular event, differences arose that weakened the organizing committee and yet, the movement continues strongly to this day.”

The only local action we are aware of is a presentation tonight at the Bloom Collective by a Palestinian at 7pm.

 

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