Birzeit University Commemorates Land Day

Political lectures, folkloric dance performances and poetry reading were all features of Birzeit University’s commemoration of Land Day, in 1976 when Palestinians protested Israeli government plans to expropriate tens of thousands of dunams of Palestinian-owned land in the Galilee.

This year’s activities were organized by the Deanship of Students Affairs under the slogan “Ragi’n/ We’re coming back”, in collaboration of Baladna Youth Organization in Haifa.

 University president Abdel Latif Abu Hijleh planted a number of olive trees as a symbol of the university’s  commitment to the Palestinian right of self-determination.

“Today we plant olives trees to demonstrate our attachment to our beloved land,” Abu Hijleh said. “Land Day continues to resonate with Palestinians everywhere - it does not just mark past historical events, but draws attention to Israel’s ongoing violence of occupation.”

Specialist in urban planning Yousef Jabareen offered a lecture on national planning in Israel. He reviewed planning strategies for Palestinian towns and villages inside the green line and how Israel uses discriminatory zoning policies to exclude and dominate.

Jabareen stated that Israel’s policies aim to hinder the growth of the Palestinian population and to force them to make their homes elsewhere, which as a result will increase the Jewish population especially in East Jerusalem. “Both Israeli’s local and national planning initiatives prevent the expansion of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem while creating a bi-ethnic area in East Jerusalem, Galilee and the Negev.”

He said that Israel’s demographic objective is to maintain a certain ratio between Palestinians and Israelis. “However, over the time, demographic objectives have been adapted to new realities and Israelis now constitute 45% of the population of Jerusalem,” Jabreen stated.

Palestinian poet Marwan Makhoul; one of the most prominent young Palestinian poets, presented an evening of verse at the university. He was accompanied by a musical performance by Darwish Darwish.

The university’s folklore band Jothoor and musical band Sanabel performed during the commemoration. In addition to a number of performances presented by artists and singers from Haifa.