Beware Land Day

The 36th Land Day could potentially be the biggest – and most violent – ever.

Naksa Day protests at Kalandia 311 (photo credit: LOAY ABU HAYKEL / REUTERS)
Naksa Day protests at Kalandia 311
(photo credit: LOAY ABU HAYKEL / REUTERS)
An international array of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, rogue states such as Iran and radical left-wing organizations such as Code Pink have joined forces to make the 36th Land Day potentially the biggest – and most violent – ever.
There will be the usual processions on Friday within the triangle of Lower Galilee towns – Sakhnin, Arrabe and Deir Hanna – which were at the center of the March 30, 1976, riots and clashes between Arab Israelis and security forces that left six Arabs dead and about a hundred injured. The violence was sparked by government moves to appropriate Arab land in the North to be used in part for developing Jewish towns in the Galilee. The protests spread to the Negev, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
It was the first time Arab Israelis initiated violent political activity at the national level.
This year, there will be demonstrations in the unrecognized Negev village of Wadi al-Na’am against the relocation of Beduin under the auspices of the government- approved Prawer Plan. And on Shabbat there will be a march in Jaffa against efforts to increase the Jewish population there.
There will also be demonstrations in Hamas-controlled Gaza, including attempts to overrun the border with Israel.
But an additional dimension will be added to the protests against Israel’s “expropriation” of Arab Israeli land. Called the Global March to Jerusalem, or the catchier “GM2J,” this year’s demonstrations will also rally against what is being called by organizers the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.
By making Jerusalem, or Al-Quds, the centerpiece, organizers of the event have managed to turn this into an international affair with solidarity demonstrations expected in Egypt, Jordan, Iran and elsewhere. No demonstrations are expected in Syria, where people are busy fighting a civil war. And despite pressure from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese government wish to avoid a rerun of the events of last May, when hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria, commemorating Israel’s Independence Day (“Nakba” or “catastrophe” Day for Arabs), rushed the border with Israel. Ten were killed by the IDF and Lebanese forces. Lebanon has, therefore, forbidden demonstrations south of the Litani River, according to Beirut’s The Daily Star. And just 5,000 are expected to gather at Beaufort Castle in Nabatiya.
Nevertheless, there is a very real chance of a major flare-up. Just this week, Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for the murder of four Israelis and a Greek Orthodox priest, called on Palestinians to launch a “large-scale popular resistance.”
The former head of the Tanzim – one of Fatah’s armed wings – enjoys broad support among Palestinians and has been visited by prominent left-wing figures such as novelist Amos Oz, Meretz’s former MK Haim Oron and Labor’s MK Amir Peretz.
Exacerbating the situation is the hunger strike of 30- year-old Hana Shalabi, who has gone more than 40 days without food and is in critical condition. At least 29 other Palestinians have joined Shalabi in hunger strikes protesting the government’s policy of administrative detention. And Shalabi’s struggle has aroused Palestinian rancor.
The increasing radicalization of the Arab Israeli leadership can also increase the chances for violence. Israelis such as Muhammad Zeidan, chairman of the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership, who was on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010, and who call for a binational state and demand that millions of Palestinian “refugees” be given the right to “return” to towns inside the Green Line, are involved in organizing this weekend’s demonstrations. Zeidan said that he has warned Israeli security forces to distance themselves from the processions in order to avoid violence.
We can only hope that the IDF, the police and other security personnel have taken the necessary precautions to avoid as best as possible violent clashes that could ignite an already tense situation.
And we can only lament the fact that Arab Israelis and Palestinians are so radicalized that they have no qualms in joining forces with the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran rather than reconciling themselves to the existence of a Jewish state and learning to live in peace.