Chicagoland Arab Americans commemorate Land Day April 2
Leaders of Chicagoland’s Arab American community will gather on Friday April 2, 2021 beginning at 6 PM to celebrate Land Day, the day in 1976 in which Israel’s police and soldiers shot and killed Israeli citizens who were protesting against the confiscation of Arab-owned lands inside Israel.
In 1976, in response to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for state purposes, a general strike and marches were organized in Arab towns from the Galilee to the Negev. In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six unarmed Arab citizens were killed, about one hundred were wounded, and hundreds of others arrested.
Scholarship on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict recognizes Land Day as a pivotal event in the struggle over land and in the relationship of Arab citizens to the Israeli state and body politic. It is significant in that it was the first time since 1948 that Arabs in Israel organized a response to Israeli policies as a Palestinian national collective. An important annual day of commemoration in the Palestinian national political calendar ever since, it is marked not only by Arab citizens of Israel, but also by Palestinians all over the world.
The commemoration event is free and open to the public and being held at Niko’s Restaurants at 76th and Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview Illinois. The public is invited to attend.
The event is co-sponsored by The Arab American Chamber of Commerce, the Palestine American Club and 14 other Arab American and Palestinian organizations including the Palestinian American Council, the Palestinian American Council, the Al Nahda Center, SANAD, the Palestinian American Youth Association,
“We have to commemorate the important sacrifices that civilians who happened to be Palestinian Israeli citizens made in protesting against a bad Israeli government policy to confiscate their lands,” said Chamber President Hassan Nijem.
“The incident which took the lives of at least six citizens of Israel and wounded more than 100 others symbolizes the racist apartheid policies of Israel’s government dating back to the 1970s that continue until today. We need to stand up for justice and remind the public that we are the victims, not the oppressors. And we are only demanding justice and fairness and the civil rights we deserve.”
Newly elected Congresswoman Marie Newman is one of the many speakers who will address the group on the issue of recognizing the human and civil rights of all people regardless of race, religion or national origin. Newman represents the 3rd Congressional District which has the largest concentration of Palestinian Americans of any congressional district in America, according to a census study conducted by the New York Times newspaper.
Also scheduled to speak via live Zoom Video are his Reverend Attallah Hanna the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Ihssan Sweiss the Consul General for Jordan in Chicago, Rybhi Dolah the Mayor of Beitunia, Palestine, Sami Abu Shihadeh a Palestinian Israeli member of the Israeli Knesset, Sheikh Dr. Ikrimah Said Sabri Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Rabbi Yisrael David Weiss of Neturei Karta.
The event will feature a Debka group, the Palestinian Boy Scouts and other entertainers and groups.