This year, on March 30th, thousands of people in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and in many European capitals commemorated Land Day. The first Land Day was held on March 30th 1976, when Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories demonstrated against the ongoing illegal expropriation of their land by the hand of the Zionist settlers. This year, in this occasion, a Global March was organized so, being in Lebanon already, could I miss it?
Since I’ve started my career in journalism, and even before, when I was still in uni, I’ve always been very close to the Palestinian cause, as I’ve always failed to understand how such an ongoing, open-air ethnic cleansing was possible in our times, with all countries in the world knowing and watching without raising a hand to stop the Zionist forces.
Unlike what common belief might suggest, Judaism and Zionism are by no means the same thing. At the GMJ Conference in Beirut, I was pleased to meet, among the many activists arrived from around the world, also the members of Neturei Karta, and hearing Rabbi Dovid Feldman’s powerful speech, in which he clearly stated that for the Jewish religion the State of Israel is “forbidden”, because the Jewish people are out of the Holy Land by divine decree, therefore Israeli crimes are against Jewish beliefs (and very likely against any other religion too). He closed his speech with a sentence that sounded both a challenge and a cry for a deeper comprehension of their own plight: “Jews have always lived in Muslim countries without any problem before 1948. We don’t need the State of Israel to save us, and we don’t need the State of Israel to endanger us”.
The March, or better, the demonstration, took place in Kalaa Shkeef, near the Litani river, constantly object of dispute and fights during the Israeli occupation due to its invaluable source of water, and further from the Israeli border than what participants expected. Unsurprisingly after the clashes happened last May 14th, when some Palestinians were killed, among which a 50-year-old woman who approached the fence in a desperate attempt to touch Palestinian soil and was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier, as ordinary.
A couple of days before the march, I had visited a Palestinian refugee camp in Tyre, which made me attend the protest with the greater insight only first-hand research can provide. Although I knew about the dire conditions Palestinians live in, seeing and talking to them was eye-opening and, to some extent, left me speechless. I’m collecting the information I took from that trip and gathering photos and words in order to properly describe, in my next post, their condition most of us would consider unthinkable in 2012.
Now I leave you with a (very rudimentary!) video I took during the march, when a Palestinian song introduced the series of speeches by local and international activists.