Land Day in Toulouse: Rally demands end to Tel Aviv-Toulouse “twinning”

On Thursday, 30 March — Palestinian Land Day — over 30 organizations joined the call for a rally in Toulouse, France, in support of the Palestinian people and to demand the end of the twinning of Toulouse with Tel Aviv. In particular, Palestinian activists and members of Collectif Palestine VaincraToulouse Anti-CRATruth and Justice Committee 31UJFPAFPSAttacCGT Educ’actionSolidaire , LJR, Parti de GaucheRévolution Permanente, Amnesty and the Collectif Populaire contre l’extrême droite were present to reaffirm their anti-colonialist and anti-racist commitment.

Demonstrators carried a large banner, declaring that “The twinning of Toulouse with Tel Aviv must end.” They raised Palestinian flags, banners and posters in support of the Palestinian resistance, for the international campaign to boycott Israel and for the release of Palestinian prisoners including Georges Abdallah and Ahmad Manasra.

Posters also reaffirmed the participants’ solidarity with Walid Daqqah, a Palestinian intellectual and revolutionary imprisoned by the Israeli occupation since March 25, 1986. On December 18, 2022, he was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare form of bone marrow cancer which requires a bone marrow transplant. He is currently in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Barzilai Hospital after developing pneumonia following a stroke last month, for which he received delayed treatment.

At the start of the rally, members of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra — a member organization of the Samidoun Network — spoke in French and Arabic to explain the meaning of this initiative:

Today,  we have come together to demand an end to the twinning of Toulouse and Tel Aviv. For over 60 years, this cooperation has continued on our behalf and in our name. The municipality of Toulouse cooperates, and de facto supports, the showcase city of settler colonialism and apartheid that has oppressed the Palestinian people for more than 75 years. As Israel’s far-right ruling government continues and escalates its violence against the Palestinian people, escalates its colonization of the West Bank, tightens the siege against Gaza, denies the right of return to millions of refugees and expands its policy of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and in Masafer Yatta, we must more than ever denounce all forms of cooperation between French institutions and the Israeli occupation. In Toulouse, this demand is growing with a recent open letter co-signed by 30 organizations addressed to the municipality to demand that this scandalous practice cease. But we are certain that the municipality led by Jean-Luc Moudenc will not take such a decision on their own. The mayor of the city is deeply pro-Israel and has intensified the attacks against the solidarity movement with Palestine, from the anti-BDS pledges adopted at the city council to welcoming our (suspended) dissolution by Darmanin. To end this twinning, we must mobilize ourselves to impose our demand!

Representatives of various organizations spoke, reaffirming their support for the call to end the twinning of Toulouse with Tel Aviv. In addition, we stressed the importance of participating in the rally in front of the prefecture organized just after to denounce the police brutality and repressive assaults of the Macron government against the mobilization challenging the anti-worker “pension reforms,” in order to provide clear support to the victims of police violence.

This event was also part of the commemorations of Palestinian Land Day, an occasion that commemorates the mobilization of Palestinians in occupied Palestine 1948 against the Zionist confiscation of land in 1976 in the Galilee. Faced with this attack on their land, the Palestinian people launched large-scale protests and a general strike. On March 30, 1976, six Palestinians were murdered by occupation forces while resisting the expropriation of their land. During the commemorations of this day,  “the Palestinian people throughout Palestine, from the river to the sea and everywhere in exile and diaspora, express their unity and their constant devotion to the liberation of all the land of Palestine” as the international Samidoun network points out.

The rally ended with calls for further mobilizations in support of the Palestinian resistance, in particular gathering on Sunday, April 2 in front of the gates of Lannemezan prison. This initiative is organized as part of the international week of actions for the release of Georges Abdallah on the occasion of the 72nd birthday of the Arab communist and Palestinian resistance fighter imprisoned in France since 1984.