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Land Day 2011 and BDS All The Way Until Israel Ends the OccupationEileen Fleming Salem-News.com
"I am an Israeli Jew and I am responsible to change something about this situation. We all need to do this together."
(NEW YORK) - As part of the Global BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) Day of Action commemorating Land Day, Adalah-NY: the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel grabbed the attention of busy commuters with a song and dance twisted to remind people to boycott Israel and honor Land Day. The video is posted below
“Land Day” commemorates the killing of six Palestinians, 96 wounded and 300 arrested on March 30, 1976, in the Galilee. The anticipated peaceful demonstration by Palestinians was a response to Israeli authorities that had announced the confiscation of 5,500 acres of their land which Israel classified as "closed military zones" for “security and settlement purposes.”
My Land Day Experience:
On “Land Day” in 2006, just after the break of dawn, a group of Israeli Jews and I traveled three hours north of Jerusalem to the lower Galilee municipality of Sakhnin, an Arab village whose land continues to be grabbed and colonized by Israel.
Ronnie, a Canadian who moved to Israel with the desire to help build a civil society, is a co-founder of Women in Black and active with Machsom Watch/women at the checkpoints who watch for and report on human rights abuse. She laughed as she told me, "A friend said that I am so Left that if I ever gets to heaven I will probably argue with God that those in hell just didn't get a fair deal."
Ronnie turned serious and continued, "Religion is used as a cover, but it's all about the land! It's convenient to claim one is doing something for God but the laws are made to take the land. We don't have settlers in Israel -the common name for illegal colonists in the West Bank-we just take it! First it is claimed to be for military reasons then it'll become a park or agricultural land that the state has confiscated.
"The Palestinians who did not leave in '48 but remained here still have lost their land. They can't get permits to build... I am opposed to the occupation and as an Israeli Jew I want to see justice for all...and I refuse to be enemies with anyone."
Over 100 Israeli's, Arab Christians, Muslims, atheists, communists and internationals attended a tour of Sakhnin and conference coordinated by Batshalom and The Women's Coalition for Peace and Justice.
I learned that not only had Israel confiscated acres of the most fertile of Palestinian land they had also placed land mines all over the land. Many farmers and other innocent ones lost their lives or legs, so people quit caring for their groves and the Israeli government declared the village of Sakhnin a military zone.
A few years prior, the President of Israel had declared that the people of Sakhnin, deserved to have their land back. But the Israeli county of Misgav, abetted by the Israeli Land Authority continued to collect taxes from the indigenous people but not return any land or issue permits for Palestinians to build upon their legally owned property.
An Israeli peace activist commented, "In 2000 during Land Day, hundred's of nonviolent protesters were arrested and we were hit with tear gas and rubber bullets. Name it and we have had it!"
Another told me, "I am an Israeli Jew and I am responsible to change something about this situation. We all need to do this together."
The speakers spoke in Arabic or Hebrew, and my interpreter was Aliyah [Hebrew for "Go Up"], who was born in St. Louis, grew up in Cleveland and moved to Israel in 1948.
She told me, "My Father was born in Jerusalem and I was a Zionist, but now I am not so sure. I still want the Jewish people to have a state but it must be honest and moral, I don't want a piranha state! Before 1967 I was euphoric! My husband and I began to learn that there were Israelis who you could call prophets, who said we must return the land and make peace. Then a fundamentalist Jewish group, The Gush Emunim began erecting the settlements in the newly possessed land.
"When Israel went into Lebanon I was infuriated! I demonstrated against the massacres at Shatila and Shabra. Eighteen years of Israel in Lebanon is what built up the Hezbollah! The Israelis supported the group at first because they hoped the Hezbollah would be against the Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon."
I inquired, "Isn't that what Israel did with Hamas? Didn't they originally support Hamas to be a wedge against the PLO?"
Aliyah replied, "Yes, stupidity repeats itself!"
In the Northern part of Israel 53% of the population are Jews who control 80% of the land. Palestinians are 47% of the population with only 20% of the land.
Sakhnin’s 25,000 people are allowed to access less than 10,000 dunums of their land but they only control half of that. In 1948 they owned and controlled 170,000 dunums.
A Defense Industry and Army base complex a few miles from where we stood had a most mysterious warehouse. Aliyah remarked, "No one knows what is going on inside, but it may be a nuclear reactor. The municipality asked the army to develop in another direction for there is a school over there too. The Israelis are allowed to expand anywhere, but the people of Sakhnin are not allowed permits to builds on their own land.
“I really became aware of what was going on in the '80's. I had been invited to a meeting of The Bridge for Peace and Coexistence, which is a group of Arab and Jewish activists. A man asked me where I was living and when I answered Bneitz-ion. He calmly and politely told me ‘That is my Uncle's land.’’
Since 1967 Israel has confiscated more than 750,000 acres of land from the 1.5 million acres that comprise the West Bank and Gaza. Most of the land has been confiscated to make space for settlement expansion and bypass roads that are for the exclusive use of Israeli colonists.
Since 1948, Israel has confiscated nearly 85 percent of the territory within the Green Line from Palestinians. Most of this land was taken from the 750,000 Palestinian’s who were made refugees when they were evicted or fled in fear during the 1948 war.
The Israeli Knesset (Israeli parliament) has passed dozens of laws in defiance of U.N. Resolutions and International Law, such as The Absentee Property law and the Development Authority (Transfer of Property) Law.
This law, which in Arabic is called 'Qanoon Elhader/Gayeb', was adopted in March 1950. It classifies anyone who was a citizen or resident of one of the Arab states or a Palestinian citizen on November 29, 1947, but had left his place of residence-even to take refuge within Palestine- as an 'absentee'. Absentee property was vested in the Custodian of Absentee Property who then 'sold' it to the Development Authority. This effectively authorized the theft of the property of a million Arabs, seized by Israel in 1948.
Adopted in July 1950, this law was devised as a legal ploy to shield the Israeli government from the accusation that it had confiscated abandoned property. The Development Authority is an independent body empowered to sell, buy, lease, exchange, repair, build, develop and cultivate Palestinian property. None of these transactions could take place except with a Jew or a Jewish entity!
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 clearly asserts that the "occupying power cannot move segments of its own population to parts of the land it occupies," or make any demographic or territorial changes that are not in the interest of the occupied. Furthermore, provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention have unquestionably condemned Israel's settlement activities and demanded the ceasing of "all" settlement expansion by Israel.
UN Security Council Resolution 681 (1990) confirmed that the Forth Geneva Convention is applicable to the Occupied Territories and thus Israel's compliance is mandatory.
In 2005, the Israeli separation wall was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice and described in a UN report as a “creeping annexation” with confiscation of the most fertile of Palestinian land and water sources.
Israel has tried to “wipe Palestine off the map” by ethnically cleansing the indigenous populations from over 500 villages whose Arabic names have been removed from the Israeli map; but Israel blew up houses and planted forests and settled colonists upon the land which is called Palestine.
Israel calls ‘independence’ what Palestinians call Nakba, which translates to catastrophe, for it created over 700,000 refugees who are still denied the right to return to their homeland and the Nakba continues due to USA policy that favors and shields Israel like no other state in the world.
USA Government has turned a blind eye on the more than 6 million people of Palestine whose basic human rights have been deprived for over six decades.
Israel's illegal settlement expansion and land confiscation continues unabated because of USA vetoes in the UN and an 'occupied' Congress that remained silent in 2011, when Israel outlawed commemorations of Nakba and began punishing citizens for supporting BDS until Israel ends the occupation of the indigenous people.
The Jewish people have a long history of oppression and a deep-seated tradition of social justice. America was founded by agitators, rebels, dissidents who essentially told the King of England to back off this land.
When America and Israel bridge the gulfs that separate actions from ideals and promises and all uphold basic human rights for all people; peace with security will reign in the region and democracy could spread like wild flowers throughout the world.
In Solidarity YES WE CAN begin the world again.
Eileen Fleming is the Producer of "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org, Eileen is a Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com, Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and the soon to be released "BEYOND NUCLEAR: Some of my Experiences of Mordechai Vanunu and the Holy Land: 2005-2010" youtube.com/user/eileenfleming. Eileen is a unique leader in her state and she intends to run for a Florida Congressional seat in the future, to help speed the process of change that is so demanded today. Like many who walk in similar steps, Eileen, like other writers at Salem-News.com, is an outspoken advocate for humanity and she has no tolerance for the oppressive forces of the world.
You can send Eileen Fleming an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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