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Activists worldwide to mark Land Day with Global March to Jerusalem

To commemorate Land Day this year, Palestinians are planning a Global March to Jerusalem to highlight processes of land theft and dispossession in the city. Elsa Rassbach speaks with Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti on Jerusalem and the non-violent resistance movement. 

By Elsa Rassbach

On March 30 each year, Palestinians celebrate Land Day as a day of national struggle to commemorate protests in 1976 against Israeli confiscation of Arab land. The confiscation that sparked the protests took place in the Galilee and was seen as part of an Israeli policy to deliberately produce demographic change and create Jewish majorities in certain communities. The 1976 marches and general strikes spread to the Negev, resulted in the deaths of six unarmed Arab Israelis, and marked the first large-scale rebellion of Arab inhabitants of Israel after 1948. Widespread solidarity protests took place in the West Bank, Gaza, and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

This year on Land Day, Palestinians throughout the Middle East and in the diaspora will call attention to the dangers facing the city of Jerusalem. The organizers of the “Global March to Jerusalem” allege that through methods of ethnic cleansing, Israel is forcing out Jerusalem’s remaining Arab inhabitants, thus endangering the multi-religious, multi-ethnic character of the city, part of which is the intended capital of a future Palestinian state. The Israeli government has long denied most Palestinians – whether Muslim or Christian – access to Jerusalem, even to visit holy sites.

On March 30, the Palestinians will attempt to get as close to Jerusalem as they can, including at the borders of Lebanon and Jordan, at checkpoints in the West Bank and at the Erez border crossing in Gaza. Demonstrations will also be held in Jerusalem itself. Supporters from five continents will join the march, and an advisory board to the Global March includes Nobel Peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire. Solidarity vigils and actions are also planned on March 30 at Israeli embassies and other locations in sixty cities around the world.

The Palestinian coalition organizing this Global March to Jerusalem may be unprecedented in its breadth. But after supporters from India, Malaysia, Pakistan and other Asian countries visited Iran on their way to Lebanon to join the March, some Israeli and U.S. press alleged it is being orchestrated from Iran and that violent clashes with Israeli forces are planned.

Among the most outspoken Palestinian supporters and organizers of the Global March is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, 58, the well-known advocate of non-violent resistance. As secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Barghouti played a key role in recent attempts to bring Hamas and Fatah together. He is medical doctor educated in the former Soviet Union, the United States and Jerusalem. He founded and leads Palestinian Medical Relief society, which provides health care to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2005, Dr. Barghouti ran for presidency of the Palestinian National Authority and won 19 percent of the vote. He resides in Ramallah in the West Bank. We recently spoke via Skype about the Global March to Jerusalem.

You have joined with Palestinians from many different political perspectives and many places in the world to call for the Global March to Jerusalem. What is this initiative about?

It’s an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It will take place on Land Day, March 30th, a day that symbolizes the unity of Palestinians in the struggle for freedom and dignity and against theft of their land. We hope to bring to the world’s attention the very grave violations that Israel is committing against Jerusalem. Both the UN and the International Court of Justice hold that annexation of East Jerusalem, which is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is a violation of international law.

But there is illegal Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land throughout the Occupied Territories and also within Israel. Why the focus on Jerusalem?

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian cause. East Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestinian state. If Jerusalem is lost, the whole concept and idea of Palestinian statehood is lost, and the possibility of peace is lost. And Jerusalem is an important place for all of humanity, a holy place for Muslims, Christians, and the Jewish people. It should be the place where peace begins.

Today in Jerusalem you see the Israeli system of segregation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing in the sharpest possible way. If a Palestinian man from Jerusalem marries a woman in Ramallah, only sixteen kilometers away, he will not be able to live with her. The Israelis will never grant her the right to move to Jerusalem, but if he moves to Ramallah, he will lose his ID and his residency permit in Jerusalem. And the permit may be withdrawn for political reasons as well. Though I was born in Jerusalem and worked there as a medical doctor for fifteen years, after I ran for president in 2005, the Israeli army thereafter refused to allow me in. Most Palestinians, including Christians and Muslims, also cannot enter.

But any Jewish person from anywhere in the world who decides to immigrate to Israel, whether from Siberia or the United States, will immediately be granted the right to live in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Jerusalem is accessible to every Jewish person. It should be accessible to everybody. Many Jewish people from Israel and other parts of the world agree and are participating in and even organizing the Global March.

Among the demands of the March is “the right of return.” Why would Palestinians who live in historical Palestine support such a demand?

This demand means a lot to us, too, because there are huge numbers of refugees living in Gaza and West Bank who are denied access to the place they were forced to leave. Even Palestinians living in Israel who carry Israeli citizenship are not allowed to return home to their villages in Israel like Iqrit and Kafr Bir’im. The right of return is a right recognized by international law under a special UN resolution, 194. We do understand that its implementation will have to be negotiated, but the right itself has to be respected.

Last year on May 15, which is both Nakba Day and Israeli Independence Day, and on June 5, Naksa Day, the anniversary of the 1967 war, unarmed Palestinians tried to cross over the borders of Lebanon and Syria. According to some reports, in the two events, Israeli soldiers killed dozens, and wounded hundreds more. Could the Global March lead to a repeat of such violence?

The March will be an act of peace, an act of nonviolence, and that’s why Palestinians everywhere are united in supporting it. It reflects the consensus of Palestinians today on adopting nonviolence totally. We know that Israel is capable of terrible violence. All the organizers in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Israel/Palestine are aware of this risk. We hope that the U.S. and the European countries will pressure Israel not use violence against our nonviolence.

Elsa Rassbach is a filmmaker and journalist from the United States, now based in Berlin. She is a member of CODEPINK, an organization that has endorsed the Global March to Jerusalem. She is a frequent contributor to German and U.S. publications. Her award-winning film,  ”The Killing Floor,” an historical dramatic film about a union’s struggle against racism in the Chicago Stockyards, will be re-released this year. 

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Steve

      CODEPINK is a mentally ill organization that values the lives of islamic terrorists over the lives of innocent Israeli Jewish people.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Steve

      And naturally, Elsa Rassbach of CODEPINK supports a “right of return” for Palestinians that would end the existence of Jewish Israel, and cause Israel to become yet another Arab/Muslim-led country. There is nothing “progressive” or “peaceful” about promoting “solutions” that simply destroy Israel’s very existence. But that’s what these people want, to erase Israel from the map, and they have the disgusting nerve to pretend to be “peace activists” in the process.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jack

      Steve,

      Please, ease your hate.

      Second according to international law people have the right to return. And quite frankly unless Israel want to become an apartheid regime, the one state solution is the only solution, or rather, the result of this conflict especially if Israel keep advancing settlements on palestinian territory.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Bill Pearlman

      Jack, guys like you, the whole one state BDS crowd. I’m interested in your reasoning. Everyone knows, even Norm Finkelstein, that the Jews in Israel are dead meat under that scenario. What is the incentive for the average Israeli to sign on for a dissolution of his country and a rush to flee.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jack

      Bill Pearlman,

      I just told you what the law says.

      That Israel was established, although a vehemently arab opposition, was not a wise move to begin with and is the core of the problem. However the most just and like I said the result will be a one state solution unless Israel wont have a problem being an apartheid regime.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Steve

      Jack, you’re nuts. You’re claiming that the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state is the problem. You belong on a neo-nazi website, not here. Are Muslim states allowed to be Muslim? Are Arab states allowed to be Arab? Is the only tiny Jewish state allowed to be Jewish?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Steve

      Israel is majority-Jewish, and via democracy chooses to be a Jewish state, and will remain that way. Neo-nazis, jihad-supporters and other crackpots will have to eventually accept this reality.
      .
      Israel will remain, next to dozens of Arab and Muslim countries that favor Arabs and Muslims over everyone else, and certainly discriminate against everyone else.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jack

      Steve,

      There is no denial that the creation of Israel on this soil is the problem. Dont make this a jew/arab problem. Establishing a state would have been equally wrong if there were a jewish majority living in the middle east and arabs thought they could create their own state on their land.
      Israel cant be “jewish” and “democratic” its a contradiction.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Steve

      Actually, Israel can use democracy to let people vote, and the majority of the people vote that it’s a Jewish state.
      .
      Jack is just a hatemonger.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Steve

      Israel won’t commit suicide, Jack. Sorry. Muslims have dozens of Muslim states. Arabs have dozens of Arab states. And Jews have one tiny Jewish state.
      .
      Walk it off.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Steve

      LOL at pathetic bigots who are still trying to undo the Jewish state of Israel’s existence.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Jack

      If democracy is decided on the topic of voting as you state, there are alot of democracies in the middle east.

      One survey for you to read:

      “Israel Democracy Institute poll shows only 51% think Arabs, Jews deserve equal rights; Israel ranked least-stable democracy in the world.”

      http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=197353

      Reply to Comment
    13. Steve

      It’s 2012, Jack. The Jewish state of Israel exists. You and other neo-nazis can keep trying to destroy Israel, but you aren’t getting anywhere.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Bill Pearlman

      Jack, you still haven’t given me the incentive that is going to convince the average Israeli to fold up shop and flee.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Steve

      Since Jack recommends “suicide” to Israel, maybe he should take his own advice first, just to see how it goes.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Jack

      Steve,

      Thats why the establishment of a state, on this soil, was unrealistic to begin with.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Steve

      It’s 2012. Zionism succeeded. The Jewish state of Israel exists. It isn’t leaving. Meanwhile, the entire Arab world destroyed their own Jewish populations.
      And now, here we are.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Bill Pearlman

      Ok Jack, let me try this one more time. I get that you think Israel is a satanic, evil, nazi state. And that the average IDF soldier starts out the day with a cup of Arab blood. I understand all that. And I know that you think Israel should be extinguished. But why should the avergae Israeli sign on to folding up the country, abandoning everything that has been built. And fleeing for their lives. Why should they. Serious question

      Reply to Comment
    19. Jack

      Your self-imposed victimization and the use of antisemite-card is long overdue and wont work anymore.

      I recomend you re-read my inputs and come back with a serious question, free of slander and ad hominem. I have no interest nor time engaging if you are going to disrespect me.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Bill Pearlman

      You think that the existence of Israel is the problem. You said that. So, how are you going to convince Israel to close up shop

      Reply to Comment
    21. Bill Pearlman

      I’d actually like to hear from the other 1SS, BDS people. It spells the destruction of Israel. The Jews are dead meat has they say in Brooklyn. So, why should Israel sign on to that. Give me your reasoning, seriously.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Jack

      Bill,

      I have been for a two state solution according to international law on 1967 borders for a long time. However since Israel keep annexing land there will only be 1 solution and that is the one state solution.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Bill Pearlman

      Ah, to the hear of the matter. Let me ask you this. And everybody else out there. Say you were PM of Israel. Who is the counterparty on the Palestinian side that has the power to sign an agreement and to make it stick. And who has given the slightest indication that they would be willing to sign. Your going to say that they don’t get enought, OK what is enough. And what does Israel get in return. Lay it on me guys.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Bill Pearlman

      heart

      Reply to Comment
    25. Jack

      Bill,

      PLO have supported a two state solution for some 3 decades, Hamas have also supported this solution. The two state solution, is based in international law and UN resolutions, split two states on the border pre-1967. The only party that reject this and the only party that vote against it annually is Israel which clearly shows their rejectionism.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Bill Pearlman

      No they haven’t Jack. They just haven’t. And you know it.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Jack

      Bill,

      They have what “havent”?

      Reply to Comment
    28. Bill Pearlman

      Give me the Hamas and PlO proposal. Where are they?

      Reply to Comment
    29. Jack

      Bill,

      The solution they support is the same the whole world but Israel support.

      http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/7EB10BD6D4BCACCF85257829005379D9

      The United Nations General Assembly has voted on a resolution bearing on issues of international law as applied to the conflict every year since 1974.[4] The most recent vote was held on November 30, 2010. The resolution entitled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” was adopted by a recorded vote of 165 in favor to 7 against with 4 abstentions.[5]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_law_and_the_Arab%E2%80%93Israeli_conflict

      Reply to Comment
    30. Bill Pearlman

      BTW Steve is right. Code Pink is the most angry, bitter, bunch of women I ever saw in my life. And a GERMAN Code Pink lesbian. She must be a laugh riot.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Jack

      Bill,

      My comment awaits moderation, in the mean time what do you think about the Likud charter that rules out a palestinian state?

      Reply to Comment
    32. Leen

      Wow, too many fallacies it actually hurts my eyes to read this.

      Well, I am going to start with the international argument because it seems the moral argument is falling on deaf on ears here. So let’s start.

      Article 13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights
      1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
      2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

      Presently as this stands, meaning all internally displaced refugees and externally have every right to go back to their country of origin. Israel currently do not respect these two articles.

      Article 11 of Resolution 194
      The main Article of Resolution 194, for the purpose of this article, is Article 11 which deals with the return of refugees.
      Article 11 of the resolution reads:
      (The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

      This has not been uphold by Israel either.

      Article 12 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
      No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.
      Again, this is not upheld by Israel.

      Fourth Geneva Convention
      Article 45 This provision shall in no way constitute an obstacle to the repatriation of protected persons, or to their return to their country of residence after the cessation of hostilities.
      Israel is in violation of this.

      Fourth Geneva Convention
      Article 49
      The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
      Israel is also in violation of this with its settlements.

      I could go on, but let’s stop on those for a moment.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Leen

      What I’m saying is, either Israel starts to respect international law and human rights, or it finally admits to being a ethnocracy where its sole purpose to maintain a Jewish majority at the expense of its inhabitants and have no intention of complying with international law or respecting Human rights. But seriously, don’t pretend Israel is anything close to a liberal state.

      And if I hear the ‘they have 22 other arab states to go to’… seriously, who the hell are you to tell where people can live? Presently as it stands, every individual human being has every right to go live in their country of origin, and for that matter, any country they desire. Therefore if they wish to go back to holy land, they have every right to.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Bill Pearlman

      Whoa there moon doggie. I don’t know where you live but here on planet earth things don’t work like that and haven’t since the beginning when cave dwellers started grouping together. .

      Reply to Comment
    35. Leen

      @Bill, talking to me? I’m sorry that I respect human rights, and international law. It worked for your Europe, why isn’t it working for Israel? That’s right, because it’s an ethnocracy.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Bill Pearlman

      Your kidding right, Europe, please. Not a country outside of Denmark that hasn’t shit on the Jews. Some more than others. The lesson was learned.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Jack

      Bill,

      Please reply to my question that was added at

      Monday,
      March 26, 2012
      3:49 pm

      Reply to Comment
    38. zayzafuna

      Im planning to participate in the Global March, and I hope Jack, Leen, and the editorial board of 972 join us. Infact, having Yossi, Naom, Lisa, Mya, Ami, Dahlia, and others join us at the borders of ziostan would be a concrete statement of your bonafides. And yes Bill, that might mean zionist moving to Europe because it is their homeland. There is no room for both thieves and victims in Palestine

      Reply to Comment
    39. Leen

      You do realise the Human Rights Declaration was written because of world war 2? I also believe one of the contributor was a holocaust survivor.

      So tell me, why isn’t Israel going to respect human rights? Oh wait, because it’s ‘suicide’ isn’t it? Ugh, even the legal argument falls on deaf ears… god helps us all.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Leen

      @Zayza, I will do, in Jerusalem!
      You know Zionists can stay here as well but they need to drop the separatist, supremacist and racist attitude, and be charged for their crimes as well. And get over the fact that the inhabitants have every right to return to their land. It’s the only moral and fair thing. We are in the 21st century, there’s no room for supremacy and racism.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Steve

      This comment has been deleted.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Steve

      Misguided, clueless JACK wrote the following lie: “PLO have supported a two state solution for some 3 decades, Hamas have also supported this solution
      .
      Reality Check: NO THEY HAVEN’T. The PLO (they’re the PA now, by the way) have only supported a “solution” that involves flooding millions of Arab Muslims into Israel so Israel ceases to exist as a Jewish state. And Hamas don’t support a permanent peace with Israel at all.

      Reply to Comment
    43. Leen

      I’m not even going to bother with your racist rant… it’s clear that Israel’s violation of international law touched a nerve that you had to resort to name-calling and verbally abusing someone you don’t even know.
      Congratulations Steve, you are such a noble man for all of Humanity…

      Reply to Comment
    44. Steve

      As for “inhabitants returning to their land,” about a million or two Israeli Jews were originally from Arab countries, but were thrown out and now live in Israel. There was a “population exchange.”
      .
      These insane CodePink maniacs want to Israel to die. They want to undo its existence and have it be swallowed up so it can become yet another Arab/Muslim country. To these nuts, the very existence of Jewish Israel is evil. But the very existence of ARab countries that act as homelands for Arabs = not evil. The existence of Muslim countries that act as homelands for Muslims = not evil. Only Jews have to go.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Jack

      Steve,

      (It seems to me) you want to be a victim.

      Since you refuse to give a answer to my question on israeli rejectionism let me ask you two questions that will clearly show if you support international law or not.
      1. Is Golan, Gaza, Sheba, West Bank, East Jerusalem israeli territories?
      2. Is israeli annexation legal?

      If you answer ‘yes’ on both, well then its not any reason to debate with you since you then would reject international law and world consensus.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Steve

      LEEN: Explain why Muslim states are OK for being Muslim, Arab states are OK for being Arab, but the world’s only tiny Jewish state is WRONG for being Jewish.
      Go.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Steve

      JACK worte: “(It seems to me) you want to be a victim.”
      .
      This nutcase wants to destroy Israel as a Jewish state, then when I get mad about it, he says “it seems you want to be a victim.”
      .
      No, JACK, myself and other Jewish people do NOT want to be a victim, which is why we are defending Israel’s existence from crackpots.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Leen

      Where on earth did you get the assumption that I support Muslim states?

      Reply to Comment
    49. Jack

      Steve,

      Its not “wron because of ethnicity/religion but because they annex land that doesnt belong to themselves, just like Saddam on Kuwait and Germany in world war 2.

      Reply to Comment
    50. Steve

      LEEN: OH, so you think that every Muslim state needs to cease to exist, and the Jewish state needs to cease to exist, and the world’s religious and ethnic homeland states all need to cease to eixst? Where is this stated publically?

      Reply to Comment
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