Israel: Land Day Demonstration Report

On 30 March Palestianians commemorate Land Day by holding protest rallies and demonstrations all over the world.

The demonstrations commemorate the events of 30 March 1976, when six Israeli-Arab citizens were killed by live police bullets fired into a demonstration. As a response to this crackdown of the Israeli army, a general strike and riots of Israeli-Palestinians started, with solidarity actions in the West Bank, against yet another government plan to confiscate Palestinian lands. The protests, under the direction of the CP, were brutally crushed by the Israeli regime. The general strike and protests in 1976 were the first significant mass resistance actions of Palestinians inside Israel since the foundation of the Israeli state. The day is marked each year with demonstrations and quite often Israeli-Palestinian shops shut down for the day. The event marks Palestinian national resistance to imperialism and Israeli militarism.

The first demonstration this year was held in Jaffa, on 28 March, with a march of about 1000 participants. It was the first time that an actual Land Day demonstration was held in Jaffa. This event was very significant, because in this area the Israeli-Palestinian population is in general not as radical as in the North of the country.

Land Day protest 1

The main focus of the demo was the struggle of the Israeli-Palestinian residents of Jaffa against the attempts of the local council to further “Judaize” the city. Families, which have been settled there for generations, are driven away because they cannot afford to pay the rent in the new, more expensive housing built by real-estate speculators. These families, like in many similar cases in South Tel-Aviv, live in public housing. The state Public Housing Company, `Amidar, collaborates with the real-estate sharks and local council to privatise public housing and evict the original residents.

It is natural that the focus of the local residents, mostly from the Ajami neighbourhood of Tel Aviv, was on the current struggle they are at presently engaged in. Nevertheless it’s a pity that even Hadash only focused their slogans on this particular issue. The Member of Parliament for the CP, Dov ‘Hanin, spoke about nothing else in his speech to the demonstration. Islamic groups and nationalists were given the monopoly on resisting imperialist aggression and highlighting the strengthened campaign against the Arab people.

The members of Maavak Sozialisti, the CWI in Israel, participated in the demo in a very organised and successful manner. It was our most effective intervention with leaflets in Arabic and Hebrew. We shouted slogans such as "Against the Divide and Rule – Public Housing for all!", "Money for education and jobs – not for occupation and wars", "No more bereaved families – not Palestinian and not Israeli” and "Bring down The Wall – We don’t want any more separation".

It was very positive that this demonstration occurred, but unfortunately it lacked the militancy and was no reflection of the general mood among Israeli-Palestinians.

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April 2008