On March 30, Palestinian people scattered across the globe mark Land Day, commemorating the events of 35 years ago, when Israeli security forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel and injured many.
These brave youth were among the thousands protesting Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land to build new Jewish colonies and expand existing Jewish cities. Today, Land Day symbolizes Palestinian resistance to Israel’s ongoing land expropriation, apartheid, colonization and occupation. It marks as well the Global Day of Action for Palestinian rights and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), launched at the 2009 World Social Forum in Brazil.
Israel’s racist policies of confiscating Palestinian land and forcibly displacing Palestinians have gained in intensity since the original Land Day. The policies of incremental ethnic cleansing that Israel calls “Judaization” are proceeding apace in Palestine’s historic cities, including Jerusalem, Jaffa, Acre, Lydda and Ramla, with daily home demolitions and forced evictions. Israel’s aggressive land grab continues with the construction and expansion of the Apartheid Wall and colonies on occupied Palestinian land. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians face imminent displacement as their villages are slated to be erased from the map in their entirety.
Moreover, the fundamental injustices that gave rise to the original Palestinian Civil Society BDS Call in 2005 are more acute than ever today. Israel continues to deny Palestinian refugees, who were ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba and ever since, their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes of origin; it continues its institutionalized racial discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel; and its military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip is intensifying in repression and cruelty.
Land Day this year takes on further significance in light of Israel’s atrocious war of aggression against the hermetically besieged Palestinian people in the occupied Gaza Strip. The more than 1,400 deaths, 5,000 injuries, and 14,000 homes damaged or destroyed are only the latest manifestation of the contempt with which Palestinian life is regarded by Israel. The silence of powerful world governments in the face of the massacre was yet another astounding failure of the “international community” to uphold international law and to hold Israel to account for persistently and gravely violating the most basic of international norms.
Indeed, all these forms of Israeli colonial and racist oppression could not have reached this critical level without the direct or indirect support and collusion of the United States, the European Union and many other countries, including several Arab regimes. The isolation of Israel through boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), as was done to apartheid South Africa, must become a top priority for anyone struggling for freedom, justice and the consistent application of international law and universal human rights principles.
For the martyrs of land day and the thousands of others who gave their lives for freedom, justice and self-determination, for the thousands imprisoned for their commitment to human dignity, for Gaza, for return, equality and freedom, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) calls on people of conscience around the world struggling against all forms of oppression to boycott Israel and divest from it and from companies profiting from its oppression until it fully abides by its obligations under international law and recognizes our inalienable rights on our land. We salute all the groups and individuals who heeded the call to organize BDS-related activities on this Global Day of Action for Palestine. With your support, we shall overcome.