Today, on Palestinian Land Day (يوم الأرض), NDN Collective released its Position Paper, “The Right of Return is LANDBACK”, authored by NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign Team. Through 74 years of zionist occupation, it is a day that protests not only the theft of land by so-called israel, but also the ongoing policies of erasure that aim to purge Palestinian presence from their land. Land Day is marked every Spring by bursts of red poppies across Palestine, representing the people who have lost their lives in the struggle for home.
The current conditions faced by Palestinian People stem from the root causes of settler-colonialism, genocide, and apartheid. Just as we fight and organize to reclaim land here on Turtle Island, our Palestinian relatives fight and organize to return to their homelands. It is through our relationships and shared history of resistance against colonialism that we present the position paper: The Right of Return is LANDBACK.
Just as our communities have deeply intertwined relationships and resilience, so do our oppressors and the systems of violence that uphold colonial violence. The root of this is the Militarization of Indian Country by the united states military, and centuries of enslavement and routine violence against Black people, and the following decades of state violence and mass incarceration of Indigenous, Black, Brown, migrant, poor and working class people by the united states.
Today, the united states is the biggest funder of israeli colonial violence, sending 4.8 billion dollars in military aid this year alone. israeli weapons, military tactics and technologies of control are exported all over the world. The united states police department-israeli military exchange programs have sustained a pipeline of violence for those historically developed tactics to be incubated, innovated and tested upon Palestinians by israeli military, and shipped back for police departments to use against us and our siblings in struggle here on Turtle Island. Many of the tactics used in Standing Rock and Ferguson are contemporary examples of these exchanges.
It must and will be our commitment to support calls to action when they arise, expanding on the history of solidarity that our people have had with Palestinians, and holding our communities and leaders accountable when they make pro-zionist, pro-israel, and pro-settler colonial statements and positions. It must also be our commitment to share and enact tactics to defend our communities, like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, freeing our political prisoners – in Palestine and on Turtle Island, endorsing the statements of our siblings in struggle, investing in our youth, going through every single legal apparatus to return land/homes, international solidarity work, and building spaces on our own land for learning.
When Palestine is free, we are all free.
The Right of Return and LANDBACK are both promises that harbor the same meaning – that we will outlast colonial governments and laws imposed on us and our Relatives and live in right relations where we are from. Having land returned to the Indigenous Peoples and returning to the land forcefully taken by settler colonialism, is what will save the world. In order for us to return, we must continue to resist and defend for future generations.
Today on Palestinian Land Day, we uplift the ongoing struggle of our Palestinian relatives for liberation of their homeland and full return for all Palestinian people. We reaffirm that our solidarity as people runs deep and is both historical and ongoing. We stand with Indigenous people everywhere who face the ongoing impacts of colonialism and imperialism and believe that fighting for justice for Palestine is part of struggling for justice for all people and the planet. Although our Peoples come from different nations, backgrounds, and geographies, the struggles against settler colonialism are the same. Not because we are the same, or our struggles are the same, but because it is simply the right thing to do. International solidarity between our communities and other colonized peoples is how we will win.
We recognize the Palestinians as an Indigenous People with an Indigenous connection and right to their ancestral land. We recognize israel as an illegal settler colonial state that has inflicted and continues to inflict immeasurable violence on the Palestinian People and should be held accountable in all measure. When Palestine is free, so are we. When we fight for LANDBACK, let it also be for the return of Palestinians onto theirs.
From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.
When the Tree rises up, the branches
shall flourish green and fresh in the sun
the laughter of the Tree shall leaf
beneath the sun
and birds shall return
Undoubtedly, the birds shall return.
The birds shall return …”
Fadwa Tuqan, Poet of Palestine (1917-2003) : “The Deluge and the Tree”