On March 29, 2002, the Center arranged a gathering to commemorate Land Day (Yum al-Ard)
Yum al-Ardmarks the events of March 30 1976, when Arabs protested the government's confiscation of land belonging to Arab villages in the Galilee. Residents of Sakhnin, Arabeh and other towns burned tires and some threw stones and petrol bombs. The police responded by firing live amunition, killing one man and injuring seven. The protests then spread to other parts of the country - five more people were killed, many more were wounded and large numbers were arrested.
Since then, each year, the Arab population has commemorated "Land Day" with a general strike and demonstrations. It is not simply a day of remembrance but a protest against a continuing policy of discrimination and land confiscations.
About 30 people took part in the evening arranged by the Centre, most of these members of NSWAS, including members of the younger generation, as well as some parents of students in the Primary School. Raida Ayashi-Hatib from NSWAS, who is a member in the Pluralistic Center’s staff and a teacher in the Primary School, facilitated the meeting.
NSWAS secretary Anwar Daoud opened the meeting by saying that even though the current situation is very difficult, we should meet and talk. There is a history of mistrust between the Arab population in Israel and the establishment, while the Arabs, since 1976, try to influence the political reality. Today the peace camps on both sides are small and the combination of mistrust and violence is very dangerous. We in NSWAS have the responsibility to hold together and keep our balance and mutual trust.
The participants of the gathering expressed thoughts and feelings about Land Day and the current situation. One of the Palestinians shared his experiences from the time, when he was a student, and how from then on he began to be active politically and in Jewish-Arab encounters. Eventually, this brought him to get to know NSWAS. He still feels the pain of that time and finds it hard to visit in the area where the original events took place.
Another Palestinian participant shared his apprehension about the escalation in violence and his feelings of helplessness towards the situation.
A Jewish participant said that at the time of Land Day she was a high school student and was not aware at all of these events. Today she is more aware and is looking for ways to put this awareness into practice, in order to help change the situation.
Other members expressed concern about the continuance of the community and the Primary School, if the situation keeps deteriorating. Others expressed their belief that our years of living together would help us deal together with future crises, on condition that we develop our capacity to listen to each other’s pain.