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MN groups stand in solidarity with Palestinians around the world on Land Day 2021

By Drake Thomas Myers

Mariam El-Khatib of American Muslims for Palestine speaking at Land Day event.

Minneapolis, MN – On March 30, over 50 activists gathered to show solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli apartheid and occupation. They waved Palestinian flags and dropped banners on the footbridge over Interstate 94 between the Walker Sculpture Garden and Loring Park – across all eight lanes of traffic – demanding an end of U.S. aid to Israel, an end of Israeli occupation, the right of return for Palestinians, and an end to vaccine apartheid. The response from people passing by was overwhelmingly positive with a lot of honks from cars.

The action coincided with Land Day, which commemorates the events of March 1976, when the state of Israel announced it was going to steal more Palestinian land. In response to that announcement, Palestinians – under a brutal 18-year military occupation at the time – organized a general strike and marched in protest from the Galilee to the Negev. On March 30, 1976, Israeli soldiers (IDF) shot into the crowds of unarmed protesters, injuring hundreds of the Palestinian protesting and murdering six. Hundreds more were arrested and taken to Israeli prisons.

The first Land Day was the largest organized protest against Israeli land theft up to that point. It was a giant leap for the Palestinian national cause and has been a day of commemoration ever since. Land Day’s significance in the Palestinian political calendar was compounded in 2018, when hundreds were killed and thousands injured by Israeli sniper fire as Palestinians demanded the Right of Return to their stolen land with mass protests in Gaza, called the Great March of Return.

Mariam El-Khatib from American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) told the crowd, “You know sometimes we say it’s been 45 years since Land Day, it’s been 73 years since Al Nakba, it’s been all these years since all these events, but it’s really important to recognize that Palestinians have been resisting every single year, and they resist every single day.”

El-Khatib continued, “Every day they’re going through checkpoints, every day they’re having to deal with the harassment of the soldiers, every day they’re having to deal with their existence being criminalized. We all believe it: Palestine will be free.”

Currently, 5 million Palestinians are living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. For decades now, the Israeli regime has purposefully destabilized medicine, electricity, housing and water in these regions, and it’s no surprise that this vindictive policy extends to the COVID-19 response.

As a result, thousands of Palestinians are dying, and there is a malicious lack of a plan to distribute vaccines. This has been a year of immense hardships for Palestine.

“Palestinians show us that not giving up means something. Even as conditions worsen in Palestine, the political situation here is finally showing a glimmer of hope,” said Wyatt Miller of the Anti-War Committee (AWC), “Elected officials in U.S. Congress have made proposals to reduce aid to Israel. Things that were once politically taboo, like the Right of Return, are now part of the conversation. They’re trying to outlaw criticism of Israel on college campuses precisely because people are finally starting to pay attention.”

The protest was organized by the MN Anti-War Committee and American Muslims for Palestine MN; it was cosponsored by Women Against Military Madness, Jewish Voices for Peace, Climate Justice Committee, and Students for Justice in Palestine.

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