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Samih Al-Qassim: Blood and Soil

From earth to earth! For hundreds of years, man has been repeating these words, which are full of equanimity and wisdom, and are within a religious, Sufi context. But for the peasant who is rooted in the soil of his land, this sentence is charged with a different connotation; here matter and soul meet in a glorious human unity. Nevertheless, when land is exposed to any danger, the peasant experiences a shattering feeling that his bond with the universe is about to be severed.

The peasant’s homeland is that piece of land with which he mixes his sweat and tears, waiting for the fruit with pain and joy. For the sake of attaining this fruit – his legitimate human right – the peasant is completely ready to face any threat with his body, mind and blood. Thus, the close points of resemblance between soil and blood become clear.

The Palestinian Arab has lived the experience of soil and blood to its fullest extent. His bond with his land has been solid since the dawn of history. From the Bible to the most contemporary historical sources, we can find evidence indicating the strong bond which has tied him to the national soil.

The Arab Uzds had established their state in our country hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. Significantly, the Israelis could not create the first desert park in the Negev in 1978 except in the style of our forefathers – the Canaanites. This fact was revealed by the Israeli press itself. Thus, our roots in the soil of this homeland go back to before, during and after ancient days, even before the dawn of history. This fact clarifies and nourishes the tenacious attachment of the Arabs of Israel to what was left of their, national land, to the point of martyrdom just as happened during the memorable Land Day.

The Land Day (March 30th, 1976), was not a day of “rioting” as some people claim. It was a day of just struggle, carried out by the Arab masses in Israel as an expression of their noble protest against the policy that aims at cutting their national roots and as a confirmation of their eternal bond with their legitimate right to soil, inherited from their fathers and ancestors.

As became clear later, the consecutive governments of Israel have adopted this expansionist theory and actively implemented it, while attempting to hide behind slogans and concepts that were elegant and scientific only in appearance, but racist in substance. The concepts of “development”, “land concentration” and “distribution of population” are nothing but masks designed to conceal the policy of expropriating lands owned by Arab fellahin and transferring them, in one direction only, to Israeli ownership.

This was not designed for the development of the interests of the whole population of this country but to carry out the policy of “Judaization” which is clearly stated in the following paragraph of the project of “Judaization of the Galilee”: “The special issue of Galilee is the lack of Jewish citizens compared with non-Jews who constitute 70% of the total population.” It was with this background, and after 30 years of continued land expropriation, that the events of the Land Day took place. On March 30th, 1976, the Arab masses wanted to defend their land by exercising one of their legitimate rights, namely the right to strike. But the Israeli authorities faced the exercise of this civil right with military measures, felled six innocent martyrs, and precipitated much bloodshed and pain. National issues deserve national struggles. To the extent that the national issue becomes clear and the national struggle becomes deeper, the justifications and possibilities of international struggle become manifest. The international nature of our struggle was expressed by the fact that the Land Day aroused a wave of solidarity expressed by the sane forces and elements in Israel, through multi-form means.

The erection of the monument, built on a small hill situated at the entrance to the village of Sakhnin, appears to be addressing both human beings and the heavens together. It preaches to humans the nobleness of struggle and cries out justice to heaven. Two prominent and progressive talents have met together in the design and execution of the project of this monument, namely the talented Arab artist, Abid Abdi and the talented Israeli artist, Gershon Knispel.

The two artists have transcended, in a noble fashion, the feeling of national chauvinism, and their common work is harmonious and complete, it creates the impression that it is the work of a single artist.

The historical inevitable development will liquidate the causes behind human and national injustice. The passing of time will heal the wounds and nothing will remain except the message, the example, and human artistic creations that will endure as a historical reminder.

The Junker bombers have passed away but Guernica is victorious. Humanity, without any doubt, will remember Pablo Picasso with the deepest feelings of affection and respect. But Generalismo Franco cannot be remembered except with the contempt that he deserves. We do not live on another planet and our history is not isolated from human history. We constitute a significant part of it. Racism, hatred and national injustice will vanish away while humanity and love will be victorious.

Humanity, soil and the message will remain.

from the “Land Day Monument: Catalogue” (1978)


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