What is”Palestinian Land Day”? — Poet Darwish explains

Ray Bergmann wrote this in response to a question about a Mahmoud Darwish poem and Palestinian Land Day:

Mahmoud Darwish wrote “Qasidat al-Ard.” (Poem of the Land) in commemoration of Palestinian Land Day on 30 March. On the first Land Day in 1976, as you say (see question by Cynthia below), 6 Palestinians were killed, most of them males. Some confusion has arisen over this because of Darwish’s poem:

“And in the month of March come the silken shadows (and without shadows the invaders). The birds come mysterious as the confessions of girls.  Five girls conceal a wheatfield under their braids. They read the first words of a song about the vines of Hebron. They write five letters: Long may my country live. Five girls at the door of a primary school break like mirrors…”


1. Five wars over “Long may my country live” since the Land War of 1976 are all about control of land by indigenous or invaders!

2. Broken control, lost land, broken lives, lost lives! (My comment on part of the poem “Five girls at the door of a primary school break like mirrors”)

The poem is very famous and many people mistakenly think that five girls/letters/wars were killed on 30 March 1976 / Thirty years ago.

The first Land Day took place on 30.3.1976, in protest against the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate 20,000 acres in the Sakhneen area for “Galilee Judaization” purposes.

The leaders of the Rakakh political party, together with the heads of the Arab municipalities in the Galilee region, called for a day of general strike and protest demonstrations on the 30th of March [1976].

The demonstrations took place mainly in the villages of Sakhneen, Arrabi and Deir-Hanna.

IDF forces confronted the demonstration participants, resulting in six dead demonstrators and many wounded.

The six people killed were: Khir Mohamed Yasin from Arabe, Raja Khasin Abu-Ria, Khader Abed Khlaila and Khadija Shuhana from Sakhneen, Mohamed Yusef Taha from Kana and Rafet Zuheiri from Nur-Shames, who was shot in Taibe.

Some commentators write that three of the dead were women.

On this recent Land Day 30 March 2010, 15-year-old Mohammed al-Faramawi was killed east of Rafah in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces who fired on Palestinians marking Land Day.

During the second intifada in 2001,  four Palestinians were killed in Nablus and one Palestinian was shot dead in Ramallah,

In the year 2000 commemoration, a 72-year old woman from Sakhnin was reported to have died in the hospital after injuries sustained from tear gas inhalation.

1, “Palestinian Land Day” not [Land Day] ;

2. The five girls are metaphorically “five wars” over “thirty years” (The mistake is thinking that Darwish is speaking of five deaths thirty years AGO);

3. The five deaths I cited during the second intifada in 2001 were those killed in Land Day demonstrations. (Of course there were many more deaths during the whole of the second intifada).

3 thoughts on “What is”Palestinian Land Day”? — Poet Darwish explains

  1. Ray Bergmann says:

    Five girls conceal a wheatfield under their braids.

    Five wars over “Long may my country live” since the Land War of 1976 are all about control of land by indigenous or invaders!

    Five girls at the door of a primary school break like mirrors

    Broken control, lost land, broken lives, lost lives!

  2. Ian Curr [Editors note] says:

    [Editors note]

    Hello Ray,

    Thank you for your expanantions above.

    Is the text of Darwish’s ‘Poem of the Land’ now correct in the main post above?

    To readers, I have included this discussion by Ray Bergmann of Palestinian Land Day and Mahmoud Darwish’s poem because of the significance of the struggle for land and becasue of the general ignorance in Australia of the nature of the conflict. Some say to the victor (Israel) the spoils (Palestinian Land) without ever having grasped the nature of the oppressor and the lengths that some have gone to cover-up this injustice.

    Propaganda falls daily from the lips of our leaders and in our press. The Palestinian narrative has been distorted in western eyes.

    Darwish, a (the most) famous Palestinian poet, commemorates Palestinian land day with his poem, “Qasidat al-Ard.” (Poem of the Land).

    For some reason, these poems are lost on western ears.

    Only recently the website ‘lavartus prodeo’ banned a poem, ‘How humane and civilized!’, by another famous Palestinian poet, Nasri Hajjaj. See Blood Libel and the comments that follows. The moderator promised to seek advice from the LP collective after another reeader and i complained about the censorship. But as you can see from the thread he never got back with a decision and the poem remains deleted. Here is the poem. A warning. Be mindful it contains the heavy artillery of metaphor, hyperbole, irony and more than a little sarcasm:

    How humane and civilized!
    Stole my land
    Burned my trees
    Jailed my sun
    Killed my children
    Drank their blood
    Then ground their bones at McDonnell-Douglas
    And offered them back to me
    As a present
    In a flour-sack
    To torture me all my life
    This is America
    —Nasri Hajjaj

    Ian Curr
    April 2010

    Little Sense on the Middle East

  3. avivabutt says:

    Thank you, Ray. Mahmud Darwish is often misunderstood by the people who profess to love him most. In any case, this poet is re-interpreted throughout the world it seems sometimes in strange ways. It is important to understand where he is coming from, and I have found that in general people in Europe, Australia, the USA and so forth really do not take the trouble to even try to understand the Middle East. So your “fact-finding” is very important — no one better to explain than the poet himself.

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