The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London held a panel discussion entitled “Land Day 47 Years On: A Day to Resist and Remember”.
Chairwoman Farah Kutteineh provided a brief history on the significance of the Land Day celebrated on March 30 each year by Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian diaspora everywhere. It marks a special moment in Palestinian history when protests against land confiscation by Israel turned deadly for six people. The day not only commemorates this past event, but it also celebrates the Palestinian spirit of revolution.
The panel of speakers includes Heidi Grunebaum, a member of South Africa's Stop the JNF campaign. Heidi is a Senior Researcher at the CHR where she works on the research theme, Aesthetics and Politics and with the Factory of the Arts. Grunebaum’s work focuses on social and aesthetic responses to the afterlives of genocide, war and mass violence and on the Holocaust, apartheid and the Palestine Nakba, in particular. Her research interests include Holocaust and genocide studies; critical memory studies; aesthetics and politics; comparative literary, film and narrative studies; postcolonial theory and public culture.
Also on the panel was Eman Abusidu, a Brazilian-Palestinian writer and journalist. Eman works as a correspondent for the Middle East Monitor news website and is involved in research and translation projects about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Khouloud Al Ajarma delivered an oral presentation about the history and significance of the Land Day. Khouloud is Lecturer in the Globalised Muslim World with research interests in environmental concerns across the contemporary Muslim World. Khouloud is a Palestinian refugee, anthropologist, and award winning photographer and film maker. She is a lecturer at the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has also worked in the fields of refugee studies, international migration, gender studies, visual culture, environmental justice, and knowledge production in the Arab region, Europe and Latin America.
Nerdeen Kiswani was also onboard. She is a Palestinian organizer from NYC. She is the founder and chair of Within Our Lifetime - United for Palestine, a community based Palestinian led organization whose goal is to revitalize the revolutionary spirit of the Palestinian community abroad in pursuit of a free homeland. She is also a second-year law student at CUNY school of Law, where she organizes with Students for Justice in Palestine.
The final speaker was Lujain Al Saleh, a member leader of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, also known as AROC, based in San Francisco, California. AROC serves poor and working class Arabs and Muslims across the San Francisco Bay Area, while organizing to overturn racism, forced migration, and militarism. Over the past decade, Lujain has lived in the Bay Area and worked on a wide range of campaigns and projects to improve public health in Northern California, Guatemala, and Mexico. Lujain holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science & Management and minors in Professional Writing and Middle East & South Asia Studies from UC Davis and a Master of Public Health in Global Health & Environment from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
The panel discussion highlighted the historical and political significance of the Land Day demonstrations, which date back to March 30, 1976, when six unarmed Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during protests against Israel’s expropriation of large tracts of Palestinian-owned land.
The speakers said this year’s event occurred again at a tense time, as Israeli settler-related violence targeting Palestinians has reached its highest levels.
They stressed that the Land Day carries clear messages to the Israeli occupation and its leadership represented in the current government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu—that Palestinians adhere to their rights, their land and their resistance.
The speakers warned that Israel has continued for decades its policies of land theft, forcible transfer and erasure of Palestinians. Israeli colonialism and apartheid are aided by settler organisations further emboldened by Israel’s new government, its most far-right, racist, fundamentalist, homophobic and misogynistic ever.
The event comes at a time when Israel’s apartheid forces have murdered dozens of Palestinians so far this year. Land theft, ethnic cleansing, home demolitions and settlement expansion are increasing at an alarming rate.
The speakers urged the international community to work with progressive networks to pressure parliaments and governments to end all military cooperation and trade with apartheid Israel and similar criminal regimes of oppression worldwide and to promote UN action to investigate and dismantle apartheid, as was done in South Africa.
Watch full recording here: