While Jewish Israelis and Jews all over the world celebrated the second day of Passover on March 30th, Palestinian Arabs living in Israel, the occupied territories and throughout the world commemorated Yom Al-Ard or Land Day.
On this day each year thousands of Palestinian Israelis stage demonstrations that call attention to their second-class citizenship and the continuing expropriation of their land by the Israeli government.
The main demonstration in Sakhnin in the Lower Galilee drew close to 10,000 participants. Other demonstrations occurred at various locations in Israel/Palestine–Gaza, Jerusalem, Bethlehem– as well as other locations throughout the world such as Paris, France. Participants on the West Bank included Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and activist and former presidential candidate Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.
The annual day of protest commemorates the deaths of six Palestinians killed by the Israeli authorities during the first Land Day protest in 1976.
At that time, Arab citizens in the Sakhnin region were protesting a recent government expropriation of 6300 dunams (approx. 1575 acres) of Arab-owned land. The initial Land Day marked the first large organized protest by Israel’s Arab citizens since the 1948 War. Land Day has become a very important day in the Palestinian political calendar. It is not only a commemoration of the protesters who were killed in 1976, as well as others killed on subsequent Land Days, but also a celebration of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and human rights. An example of a recent expression of the personal meaningfulness of Land Day to one Palestinian can be found here.
Every year I have a Passover seder. I never have come up with an addition to the Seder that at least in some small way expresses appropriately what I think should be included to acknowledge the injustice and horrors of the Israeli regime. Due to other commitments, I was forced to postpone my seder this year to tonight (Thursday).
I think I have come up with an idea for that Passover supplement that has eluded me all these years. This year I am going to include the story of Land Day in my seder – at least this part of our story will be new to all my guests.