The Palestinians’ “Land Days”

Illustration by: Abdul Rahman Al Muzayen

On May 30, 1976 while thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel were protesting against the expropriations of their homelands, Israeli security forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel and injured many. Had Israeli security forces been able to foresee the consequences of this foolish act, they would have practiced the highest level of self-constraint. They would have probably pleaded with these protesters to go home. They would have done anything but kill them.

Commemorating what they have died for, the Palestinians, for 35 years on end, honored the memory of these six young protesters on what has become “The Land Day”.

Politics has always been part of a Palestinian’s life. So unconceivable it is for Palestinians to disengage themselves from politics. When they are angry, it is politics that angers them; when they are hopeful, it is politics that gives them hope. Sometimes politics starves them. And sometimes when they die, they die due to politics. Eventually, they become politically experienced and sophisticated.

Yet, rarely are they aware of their tragic political status. A few of them know that they do not possess a state of their own. Try and tell them this fact. Simply, they wouldn’t bother. A state is not what Palestinians would feel worried to have or lose. To them a state is a meaningless enigmatic concept. A farmer never knows what “state” stands for, neither does a fisherman. A teacher would possibly know, but he would never feel it. All of them, however, know one simple word, one grand concept, one sacred entity. It is a reachable concrete and spiritual one. The land.

This is how they raise their children. They raise them to love their land and feel it under each step they take. These children soon start to see this land in the morning sky above, they soon touch it on the seashore, and feel it in the rainfall. A while later, they accompany their fathers to the graveyard and watch a relative embrace this very land. They would sink their bare hands into the sands and join in burying this very dead man.

And while they are still little children, they blend into this land. Their love for it becomes unfathomable. Beauty, to these children, is “an olive tree growing before their own eyes.”

As they grow up, their life becomes more complicated, and inevitably more political. They start to suffer and feel the pain of living under occupation, under siege, and behind the wall. The pain of crossing checkpoints, of being discriminated against, of being bombed and fired at, of watching their siblings buried under this land. The majority of them would start to hate everything around them. They would feel angry and worried to the extent that they would abhor their surrounding. And the would curse.

They would curse a variety of things: life, Israel, politics, Gaza, Egypt, and perhaps even Palestine. These all become to them base and immoral entities. However, never will a Palestinian curse the land. Gaza, when cursed, is miserableness, wicked people, crime, hellish nights, bombing, starvation…anything but never the land. Palestine, when cursed, is Israel’s security, political factions, the Apartheid Wall, settlements, checkpoints…anything but never the land.

To Palestinians, each day of the year is a “Land Day”. Each pulse is so land-loving; each breath soon vaporizes into the land; each tear soon waters it, and each body eventually embraces the land— on the real “Land Day”.


3 responses to “The Palestinians’ “Land Days”

  1. You could not have said it better. I have been into politics for as long as I can remember and I am only fourteen :-X

    In fact, my parents told me I was having a political argument with somebody in my sleep last night. Not good!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. As an American I know how we are very quick to dismiss the yearnings of others and to label everything they do as “misguided” or “fanatical.” This post speaks to very positive human desires for safety, belonging and real ownership of property.

    Hopefully someday more Americans will understand that what the Palestinians want isn’t much different from what they themselves want.

  3. Thank you for this passionate, poetic piece of writing on a particular and yet universal issue. I grew up in South Africa, have lived for more than 40 years in Scotland and 6 years ago visited Palestine twice. Part of me stays in all of those places, and you are right, it is the land that is stronger than any other claim to identity. I have two small pieces of rock from a hilltop above Jenin on my desk to remind me of the joy and tragedy that land has known. May the children always know the beauty of their land.

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