This week marks the 40th anniversary of the first mass protest by Palestinian citizens of Israel against the state’s discriminatory policies.
After 1948, the Palestinian who remained within Israel’s borders were granted citizenship; but it was evident from the start that the nation’s political establishment had no intention to uphold equal rights between the Arab minority and Jewish majority. The Palestinians lived under martial law until 1966 while Israeli authorities set out to confiscate their land.
As far as Israel was concerned, it was the rightful heir to Palestinian refugee property, but even those internally displaced – so-called “Present Absentee” – were prevented from returning to their property, which had been transferred to a state-appointed Custodian. Arab villages and towns that had escaped the Nakba’s devastation came under zoning laws limiting their expansion. Moreover, Israel officials mined Ottoman and British Mandate legal texts in search of any pretext to dispossess Arab landowners; or they would simply announce a “Closed Military Zone” and subsequently re-purpose the land for Jewish settlers. (Today, less than 3% of Israeli territory is preserved for Palestinians who constitute 20% of the nation’s population.)
On March 30, 1976, Arab villagers in the Galilee, bearing witness to the theft of their patrimony, marched to demand Israel revoke its latest round of annexations. In response, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sent tanks to villages and Israeli police charged the demonstrators. Six Palestinians were killed by the security forces.
Since that day, Palestinians across Israel mark March 30 as Land Day to commemorate their steadfastness and appeal for justice and equal rights in Israel. And to proudly demonstrate their commitment to remain on their ancestral lands.
As part of our Palestine Poster Project, we’ve gathered Land Day/Day of the Land posters drawn over the decades. In addition, we present two articles from our Journal of Palestine Studies archive which document Palestinian and Israeli press reactions to the Land Day protests. These accounts, compiled by our editors at the time, offer an intimate survey of the events as they happened.
One Palestinian commentator, for instance, argued that “the present uprising” emerged “from the reality of the Palestinian national movement whereas previous [uprisings] were still trying to assert the existence of the Palestinian people and their revolution.” While many in Israel viewed the Land Day protests in the context of contemporaneous uprisings in the West Bank in order to call for “greater severity in repressive measures against Arab citizens of Israel than against those under occupation in order to nip in the bud any ambitions the former might have to link their fate in the future with that of their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank.” The press accounts are below the posters.
Click to enlarge each poster and see its origin and size.
All the posters featured in this essay are from the Palestine Poster Project Archives founded by Dan Walsh.
Read other articles in Palestine Poster Project Series:
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