The Evergreen SettlementTo honor Land Day, members of the Evergreen community held a 62-hour Vigil for Human Rights at a constructed settlement/refugee camp on Red Square. Each of the 62 hours of the Vigil for Human Rights represents a year since Palestinians began to lose their ancestral homes. The vigil ended the evening of Land Day, Wednesday, March 30th.
The Israeli SettlementThe 10x10 foot structure represents the illegal Israeli Settlement Har Homa in the West Bank. Israel Settlements usually sit on top of hills, draining waste and sewage into the Palestinian villages and farmlands below.
Har Homa was built on a forested West Bank hill known as Jabal Abu Ghneim, on the outskirts of the Palestinian towns of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. The forest was cleared and Har Homa was established to complete a ring of illegal Israeli settlements encircling Jerusalem and cutting off Palestinian access to Jerusalem.
Israel considers Har Homa to be part of Jerusalem, although it is situated far outside of the actual historic Jerusalem, and no other country in the world recognizes Israel’s territorial claim to this area. However, Israel illegally annexed segments of West Bank land and renamed the area “Greater Jerusalem.” To this day, mainstream media outlets incorrectly label settlements such as Har Homa as “Jewish neighborhoods” located in “Jerusalem” or “Israel.” They are actually internationally recognized as illegal Jewish-only settlements located outside of Israel.
Construction of Har Homa began during the period of the Oslo “Peace Process.” In 1997, the UN Security Council twice voted on resolutions condemning Israel for its illegal construction of Har Homa, but both times the resolutions were vetoed by the United States. At the time, the Clinton administration claimed that criticizing Israel for illegally building on Palestinian land would interfere with the “peace process.” In February of 2001, the Obama administration vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal. It was the first time this administration had used the veto power. The other 14 member states supported the resolution.
The settlement continued to expand throughout the Vigil for Human Rights, expropriating more Palestinian land as the hours, and years, go by.
The Refugee Tents
Each tent is a year of massive land expropriation beginning in 1948, when Palestinians were ethnically cleansed to make way for an Israeli state with a majority Jewish population, making it illegal for the 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return to their villages. The 1967 tent represents the Six Day War in which Israel seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip it continues to occupy militarily. The first Land Day is represented by the 1976 tent.
Currently Israel continues to steal land in the West Bank and Israel proper from Bedouin villages in the Negev, as well as continue settlement expansion in the West Bank. This is represented by the tent demarked by 2011.
The tent for 1492 represents the beginning of Land Expropriation against the indigenous cultures of the Americas. Those of us who are non-Native acknowledge that we are also on the stolen land of the local tribes.
Land DayLand Day is a remembrance of the first time Palestinians inside Israel stood together and successfully resisted Israel’s goal of confiscating their land.
Since 1948, vast swathes of land have been taken from Palestinians, both from refugees in exile and from Israel’s own citizens.
The confrontation which is remembered on Land Day took place between the army and a group usually referred to as “Israeli Arabs”, the minority of Palestinians who managed to remain in their homes during the 1948 war that led to the founding of Israel.
It is an international call to action for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel until it ceases its violation of Palestinian human rights.
Divestment actions are happening at campuses regionally at University of Washington and Seattle University. Similar actions are being organized internationally.