US Charitable Donations Are Funding Displacement of Palestinians

Multiple gunshot bangs were heard in the sky. Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition on a Palestinian protester. Chants and cheers from Israeli settlers from Modi’in Illit rang out through the air as they stood upon a mound of dirt overlooking the Israeli apartheid wall. Multiple rounds of teargas were fired into the crowds by Israeli soldiers. Young volunteer paramedics from Palestine raced through the tear gas to grab the injured and assist them as protesters fled to evade the gas or live fire. This was five minutes of nonviolent resistance by Palestinians on April 1, 2022. captured the essence of Land DayDespite the Israeli military’s heavy hand, Palestinian protesters & international solidarity activists refused leave their land.

It’s been 46 years since Land Day, a day when Palestinians organized en masse against the Israeli government’s program of colonization and Indigenous erasure. As an act to commemorate the end of World War II, Palestinians returned to their ancestral lands. sumud, of steadfastness, organizing a general strike and protest marches in response to the Israeli government’s decision to confiscate another 20,000 dunams (about 5,000 acres) of Palestinian land in the Galilee. The Israeli state had already taken approximately 75,000 dunums of Indigenous communities’ land in the Galilee over the past decade.

Since then, many of our collective memories have been reflected at the end March as we remember the lives of the Palestinian protesters Israel killed that day. Khair Muhammad Yasin from Arrabeh; Raja Hussein Abu Riya, Khader Abd Khalaila and Khadija Shuwahna from Sakhnin; Muhsin Yusuf Taha from Kafr Kana and Rafat Zuhairi from Nur Shams.

In the Palestinian village of Bil’in, our community honors Land Day and our own family members who resisted Israel’s attempt to take our lands — Bassem Abu Rahma, Islam Bornat and Jawaher Abu Rahma — who were all murdered by Israeli forces.

Land Day is a symbol of national unity that brings together Palestinians from both the east and west. Green LineTo resist Israeli colonization. When the first Land Day took place in 1976, Palestinians were fully aware that the Israeli government was attempting to seize land for several purposes. The first was to expand Carmiel, a Jewish-only settlement in the north, as a tactic for limiting the natural growth of Palestinian villages. Israel’s planning regime has always operated on the premise that by taking away the lands of the surrounding Palestinian villages, the communities would have nowhere left to build — that those families would eventually leave for a life outside of historic Palestine.

This tactic is easily visible today in expansions of the Har Hama, Gilo, and Efrat settlements. Bethlehem, or in building up the settlements of the Jordan Valley to push Palestinians towards ethnic enclaves. For our community of Bil’in, a community of fewer than 3,000 people, Israel has used myriad colonial tactics to take over our land to expand the Modi’in and surrounding outposts. Secondly, the land was not only restricted in geographical area but also transferred material wealth from local communities to settlers from abroad. This took millions and millions of dollars in generational wealth that would otherwise have been passed down from generation one to the next.

So for the communities of northern Palestine calling for mass mobilization to preserve their lands — Sakhnin, Arrabeh, Deir Hanna, and others — their future was paramount. Like Palestinians have been doing for generations, they took to the streets knowing that they would face the heavy-handed violence of the Israeli state — and that some would likely pay for their resistance to colonial violence with their lives.

As Palestinians made this call to resist, leaders within the Israeli government and significant figures of the Israeli public made demands to “crush” our resolve. On March 28, 1976, the Israeli Minister of Police Shlomo Hillel declared that officers were “ready to break the Arab villages.” Israeli newspapers attempted to delegitimize the resistance, called it “a Moscow-led operation to destroy the state.” Others branded it as a violent, racist movement. The then-Minister for Education Zevulun Hammer described Palestinians “as being a cancer unto the land” — land that had always belonged to Palestinians. With Israel’s general public calling for open violence against these Palestinian communities, days before the protest was even to be held, Israel sent a heavy military presence to the villages, including armored cars. Every Palestinian knew they were risking their lives by participating in the protest. They were not only subject to physical assaults by the Israeli troops, but they also faced financial consequences from their Israeli employers if they stood up for their basic human rights.

In Bil’in, we have continued this tradition of steadfast resistance to colonization. Starting in 2005Residents of the community organized weekly protests against Israeli land theft and apartheid wall construction. We literally put our bodies on the line to defend and demonstrate our commitment to Palestinian rights. We have not stopped despite the huge personal losses we have suffered, including the deaths and injuries to our loved ones, from taking this public stand against Israeli settlercolonialism. We know that without being willing to risk sacrifices of time, energy, resources, and even our bodies and lives, we will not be able to protect — let alone decolonize — an inch of our land.

We have initiated the Campaign to Defund RacismIn honor of this heritage and to address the structural issues that allow Israeli settlement to go on, This campaign is designed to stop the U.S. exploitation of its charitable status to finance the Israeli settler movements. The campaign addresses the financing of Israeli settler-colonialism, and responds to the decades-long battle to protect our lands and resources from the Galilee to Sheikh Jarrah to Bil’in to the Naqab. As settler groups coordinate the thefts of Jerusalem church properties and press the state to displace Naqab Bedouins we need our allies in the fight for the ground to change the laws in the communities they live in.

These settler organizations — the Israel Land Fund, Ateret Cohanim, Regavim, and others — are the organizations that use hundreds of millions of dollars to shape Israel’s program of Indigenous displacement. Regavim is using U.S. charitable funds to expel Khan Ahmar. Ateret Cohanim has taken over the Petra Hotel near the Jaffa Gate. Arieh King is the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, and the founder of the Israeli Land Fund. He targets Sheikh Jarrah’s families.

The Palestinians most at risk are calling for U.S. Attorneys General to help them enforce the policies guiding charitable fundingThe settlement organizations that discriminatorily target our families for displacement are being cut off their material resources. As Palestinians continue to sacrifice their livelihoods and risk their lives to protest and challenge Israel’s system of apartheid and settler colonialism, we are calling on people of conscience in the United States to stand in solidarity with vulnerable Palestinian communities. U.S. residents are invited to join us in calling their local representatives and elected officials demanding that they take actions to ensure that U.S. charity donations do not finance ethnic cleansing or forced displacement.