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Minnesotans join with Palestinians worldwide on Land Day

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
April 1, 2018
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Leading chants on Land Day in St. Paul.
Leading chants on Land Day in St. Paul. (Fight Back! News/staff)

St. Paul, MN - A crowd of 75 people protested at the busy intersection of Summit and Snelling Avenues in Saint Paul on Palestinian Land Day, March 30. The protest was called by the Minnesota Anti-War Committee and Women Against Military Madness to highlight the imprisonment of Ahed Tamimi, among other child prisoners, but news of events in Palestine on the day was on the forefront of everyone’s minds.

On Land Day in Gaza, tens of thousands of people began a six-week tent city protest to demand the right of return for all Palestinians. The Israeli military responded with snipers and tear gas canisters dropped by drones. At least 16 people died and more than 1400 people were injured.

Rhea Smykalski, a member of the Anti-War Committee, explained the significance of Land Day, “As we all know, today is Land Day. In 1976, over 40 years ago, Palestinians organized a protest in response to the Israeli government confiscating more land to expand Jewish settlements. That day, the Israel Defense Force killed six young Palestinians. Today we commemorate their memory and continue to protest the Israeli government’s seizure of Palestinian land. On this historic day we protest with Palestinians across the world for the right to return and for freedom for their homeland.”

Smykalski continued, “And the U.S. is funding all of this. The U.S gives Israel $3.8 billion every year. It is our responsibility to demand that the U.S. stops funding this occupation. Those tax dollars should be spent on U.S. problems like providing safe water in Flint, Michigan and providing electricity and aid to Puerto Rico, but are instead being used to brutalize Palestinians in their own homes.”

Erika Levy, from Jewish Voices for Peace, also addressed the crowd about the situation of child prisoners, “Since 2000, 12,000 Palestinian children have been arrested. These children are tried by a military court. Currently, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi has been sentenced to eight months in prison after being held for three months in a military prison. Of course, the Israeli government claims Ahed is a ‘terrorist’ - the same government that raided her home, injured her family members and, the day she was arrested, shot her cousin in the face. Ahed, we know who the real terrorists are. We stand with you, your family, and all Palestinians detained in military prisons and living under Israeli oppression.”

The Middle East Committee of Women Against Military Madness holds a vigil weekly at Summit and Snelling Avenues in Saint Paul every Friday at 4:30 p.m. to raise awareness about the situation in Palestine and to challenge U.S. support for Israel.