Global March to Jerusalem post event round-up: #GMJ #EpicFailure

Taking a post-event look at the Global March to Jerusalem, it is as important to identify what did not happen as it is to look at what did occur.

The most obvious conclusion is that the GMJ organisers failed to get the numbers of participants they declared having in advance, with only single percentage numbers of their vaunted one to two million marchers actually taking part. Despite GMJ organiser Ribhi Halloum’s feeble attempts at face-saving post-event spin, any objective observer can only conclude that the project’s organisers are clearly out of touch with majority concerns and opinion.

This was also reflected in the picture around the world with, for example, a mere 50 activists turning up for the GMJ event in Germany and 100 in Ottawa.  Even in London – a major hub of anti-Israel activism and home to a significant proportion of GMJ organisers and their various organisations – the turnout to shout at an empty Israeli embassy was not particularly impressive.

Significantly too, in Deir Hanna – the site of the main Land Day march in Israel – and other locations in the Galilee, participation in the event was low, with organisers already expressing their disappointment on Israeli radio by early Friday afternoon.

With the majority of the world’s mainstream media giving the event very low profile handling, it is also clear that the organisers failed to achieve another of their main objectives: the creation of an embarrassing PR event for Israel which would result in condemnatory headlines around the globe and create an opportunity for another Goldstone-style attack on Israel’s legitimacy.

That objective was in part thwarted by the actions taken by the authorities in the countries bordering Israel to contain the event to demonstrations and avoid the potentially fatal clashes which would have resulted had they allowed the would-be infiltrators to have their way.

In Syria the only GMJ event took place in Damascus, with the Iranian regime’s Press TV reporting that ” the Syrian government prevented them from reaching the nearest point to the Palestinian land, as a result of the accident that happened last year on Nakba Day where Israeli soldiers killed around 26 demonstrators who tried to cross the borders in the action called “Yawm al Awda”. One must also factor in to that decision the rifts which appeared early on among GMJ organisers of a pro-Iranian/Syrian regime persuasion and those loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood which is heavily represented among the Syrian opposition, as the proliferation of Hizballah flags and Assad portraits at the Damascus event reflects.  

Participation in the GMJ event in Lebanon, which was confined to the Beaufort castle, was reportedly low due to the fact that the Lebanese army declined to allow participants to approach the border. Some foreign activists expressed a clear – but typical – lack of understanding of the regional dynamics at play.

Here’s a GMJ-North America supporter, #Occupy “human rights” activist, and Mondoweiss contributor, Deppen Webber


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(Note that in fact, GMJ organisers – including Webber’s patron Paul Larudee – had been cooperating with Hizbollah since the early stages of preparation.)

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(Note that another – though no less unreliable – source would appear to contradict Webber’s claims.)

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Here’s Kunal Majumder, senior correspondent covering GMJ as a “reporter” for the Indian political weekly, Tehelka:

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The Global March to Jerusalem has undoubtedly helped shine the light of exposure on several important points, one of which is the unquestioning collaboration between so-called peace activists and human rights advocates from Western and other countries and extremist elements such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah, the Iranian regime and even the Syrian Nazi Party – SSNP – which was represented at the GMJ event in Lebanon.

In addition, it is clear that the professed GMJ slogan of non-violence is merely a tactic employed by this handful of extremists in order to gain sympathy and legitimacy for their cause among Western audiences. Just as there is nothing non-violent about intending to illegally breach a sovereign state’s borders and over-run its capital, there was nothing non-violent about Friday’s riots in Bethlehem, Gaza and Kalandiya (lead, incidentally, by a professor from the Sorbonne and with approximately 8% of the rioters being foreign activists – probably members of the ISM).

Equally clear is the end-game agenda of the organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem and its supporters. Their common denominator is the rejection of a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, the rejection of recognition of Israel’s existence and the aspiration of achieving an imposed settlement which would bring that about. The ample rhetoric we have heard over the past few weeks on such subjects as ’64 years of occupation’ and ‘liberating Jerusalem’ is clear indication of their aims.

The Global March to Jerusalem project has clarified just how little understanding this bunch of professional and semi-professional activists have of the dynamics of the Middle East as indicated by their indignant objections to the fact that various authorities and security forces acted to prevent the escalation of their provocation into a potentially serious cross-border event.

Fortunately, it has also exposed just how out of touch its mostly foreign organisers are with the aims and priorities of people who actually live in the region and how outlandish the ideas of their relatively small – if loud – cult movement are to the majority of the people they seem to have somehow persuaded themselves that they represent. 

‘Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe’ issues rallying call supporting Global March to Jerusalem

In a manner reminiscent of the way some animals and birds puff themselves up in order to appear larger to their adversaries, organisations associated with various organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem are issuing endorsements and statements which, at first glance, suggest a much wider support base than actually exists.

Into this category falls the March 22nd communique issued by the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) and reproduced on the GMJ website. The press release opens:

“The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) invites Muslims, and the management bodies of organisations, Islamic centres, and mosques across the European Continent to dedicate the last week in March 2012 to intensive activities in support of the city of Jerusalem (al-Quds) and the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, given the escalating Israeli threats to the city, its holy sites, and the Palestinian inhabitants.

This initiative comes as part of worldwide efforts to support the just cause of Jerusalem, including the ’Global March to Jerusalem’ on 30 March 2012 in opposition to Israeli occupation and prevailing for the values of truth, justice, liberties of peoples, and human dignity.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) voices its deep concern regarding the situation in the city of Jerusalem, and the violations of the sanctity of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, and Muslim and Christian holy sites by the Israeli Occupation and its extremist groups. Furthermore, the Federation affirms its solidarity with the Palestinian people, demanding they be allowed to regain their stolen rights, and realise their legitimate demands. The Federation emphasises the importance of universal, concerted effort and cooperation to confront the arrogance of the Israeli occupation persisting in its unrestrained and aggressive policies against the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, as well as engaging in effective action to bring an end to these flagrant violations.”

Logo – FIOE

The FIOE is, however, hardly an objective bystander. It is the umbrella organization of Muslim Brotherhood groups in Europe, with much of its funding coming from Gulf sources.   Several of the GMJ organisers are functionaries of one or more of those groups or branches of the Ikhwan elsewhere whilst still others among the GMJ organisers are members of or associated with Hamas – a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.

In addition, the FIOE has ties to groups and personalities engaged in fundraising for Hamas.

Head of the Dublin-based ‘European Council for Fatwa and Research – established by FIOE in 1997 – is Yusuf Qaradawi, who also heads the ‘Union of Good’ which is banned by Israel and the United States because of its provision of funds to Hamas – a proscribed terror organization.

The ‘Union of Good’ includes the owners of the Mavi Marmara – the IHH – (representatives of which are among the GMJ organisers) and a British charity named ‘Education Aid for Palestinians’ of which GMJ spokesman Zaher Birawi is a trustee.

Qaradawi is of course noted for his extreme anti-Semitism, admiration for Hitler and homophobia. He resides in Qatar, where he has a regular slot on the regime-owned TV station Al Jazeera, and has recently been banned from entering France. 

The FIOE’s expression of support for the Global March to Jerusalem is, therefore, akin to a glowing review of a book on Amazon written by the author’s mother. 

Global March to Jerusalem: Part of the International Campaign to Delegitimize Israel

The following essay was written by Ehud Rosen, and originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (It is posted here with the explicit permission of the JCPA)

  • Over the past few years there has been a Palestinian campaign focusing on the so-called “Judaization” of Jerusalem. A number of related topics have been raised recently in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign initiated by leading figures in the PA, Hamas, and Muslim Brotherhood.
  • In January 2012, the European Preparatory Committee for the Global March to Jerusalem published an invitation for participation and support. The organizers are aiming to hold marches to Jerusalem “or the nearest point to it” on March 30, to coincide with the annual Palestinian “Land Day.” Originally, marches were planned in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the four neighboring countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
  • The European Preparatory Committee is comprised of members of UK Muslim Brotherhood circles and a member of the Free Gaza movement (founded by the International Solidarity Movement, ISM), this time joined by the anti-imperialist camp. The original idea is said to have come from participants in the December 2010 “Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan.”
  • In February 2012, various national committees began their preparations, including in Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iran. More than twenty Palestinian organizations have endorsed the march.
  • It is hard to predict the results of these preparations. However, the participation of Sunni-Islamist circles is increasing, encouraged by their rise due to the Arab Spring. Fatah, the PLO, and the PA are becoming more involved as well, as are more Islamist jihadi forces and far-right European elements.

The Political Struggle Against Israel

The political element has always been part of the struggle against Israel, yet less attended to than other, mainly violent sides. However, for more than a decade, the centrality of this element has expanded among those fighting against the existence of Israel as the Jewish state. Two parallel perceptions are gradually becoming the focus of the international campaign to delegitimize Israel – “international mobilization” (“direct action”) and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. As previously demonstrated in our research which focused on Britain – one of the main “hubs” of this campaign – these efforts are being undertaken by groups that were never in the center of politics or mainstream public opinion, and therefore turn to places that might serve as bases of mainstreaming and recruitment – the academic world, a natural place for radical views and student activism;1 the widely developing NGO community and “civil society” organizations; trade unions, which by their nature appeal to the more leftist side; various political echelons, sectorial and mass media, as well as religious institutions when relevant.

Several factors have contributed to the advancement of the political struggle:

  • The “Durban route” that surfaced at the September 2001 UN-initiated “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance,” in which Israel was accused of committing genocide. The parallel NGO Forum gave birth to the “NGO Declaration” that spoke about Israel in terms of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.2 The Durban Conference was followed by other UN-led conferences, as well as more joint cooperation among international NGOs where the concept of boycotting Israel, first suggested by South African politicians, was gradually developed.
  • The advance of Sunni Islamism in Europe, and its ascendance to the political stage in the second half of the 1990s; the Arab Spring that brought about the rapid rise to power of Sunni Islamism across the Middle East, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which has already made significant gains in Tunisia, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Libya and Yemen; and simultaneously the growing involvement of Qatar and Turkey which support it in regional and international politics.
  • The route taken by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in recent months, with attempts to bypass the Oslo Accords and gain international recognition on the path to independence.
  • Growing activism of far-left elements around the world, especially (but not exclusively) anarchists, which is intensifying in light of the global financial crisis.
  • The ongoing development of social media that facilitates the forging of connections and coalitions.

The result of all this is widening the circles of these coalitions, increasing the role of the Islamist element, while facilitating its fundraising and administrative abilities around the world, alongside the growing involvement of Fatah and Palestinian officials in the same causes. A forthcoming Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs research paper reveals the growing adoption of the BDS movement by European Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, as well as by Fatah and senior PA officials. Both groups started to expend more effort on the political/civilian sides of the struggle immediately following Israel’s Gaza Operation in 2008-2009.

A Focus on Jerusalem

Over the past few years there has been a Palestinian campaign which focuses on the so-called “Judaization” of Jerusalem. A number of related topics have been raised recently in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign initiated by leading figures in the PA, Hamas, and Muslim Brotherhood.

On February 24, 2012, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh delivered a sermon in Cairo at the prominent Al-Azhar Mosque, in which he reportedly stated: “We paid a lot in blood in order to keep Jerusalem an Arabic and Islamic city. The Arab Spring brought the Islamic nation to the threshold of the city of Jerusalem.”3

On the same weekend, a large conference on the defense of Jerusalem was held in Qatar under the patronage of the Arab League,4 featuring what has been called “an unprecedented coalition against Israel.”5 This is the second Arab League conference on the topic; the first took place in Sirte, Libya, in March 2010, hosted by the country’s late president Gaddafi.6 The current conference reportedly7 featured the Qatari emir, politicians, and diplomats from other Middle East countries, secretaries-general of both the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Sheikh Qaradawi and various other figures from the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,8 Arab-Israeli MKs, senior Fatah and PA figures including President Abbas, and several rabbis from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group. In addition, eight UN officials from various departments attended, as well as Western politicians and academics, representatives of far-left political groups, and at least one Western individual, Prof. Hans Köchler, president of the Vienna-based International Progress Organization (IPO), tied to both the European far-right and far-left.9

Iran is also involved more than usual, through three delegates representing the Tehran-based Neda Institute for Scientific Political Research. Since at least 2001, Neda has served as the major point of contact bringing together Western Holocaust deniers with their Middle East counterparts. Known Neda activity has included the publication of journals and media articles, sponsorship of conferences, and probably the funding of Holocaust-denial activity in the West.10

Lately, the emir of Qatar has been enjoying the rise of Sunni Islamism across the region, and the growing acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood by Western officials. The Qatar Foundation (known for its sponsorship of the Barcelona soccer team), chaired by the emir’s second wife, Sheikha Mozah, also launched a second Islamist center in the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, headed by prominent Brotherhood figure Tariq Ramadan (the first center is headed by Sheikh Qaradawi). The launch ceremony of the new center was attended by representatives of U.S. universities as well as many Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figures, including those close to circles of Union of Good (UoG), Hamas, and al-Qaeda funding.11

Qatar, probably the most important country standing behind Sheikh Qaradawi and the global spread of the Muslim Brotherhood in the last few decades, also currently serves as president of the Arab League. Qatar has been acting as chief mediator between Fatah and Hamas, and it is not far-fetched to assume that it chose to reunite both sides on the basis of attacking Israel. This was hinted at in the first conference held in Libya, in which many Arab leaders were reported to have called to “set aside feuding and unite against Israel.” During the Qatar conference, changes of approach between Fatah and the Islamists were demonstrated when Abbas called on Arabs and Muslims to come visit Jerusalem, while Hamas and Qaradawi stated that non-Palestinian Muslims are not allowed to visit Jerusalem while it remains under occupation. This already raised controversy between the two sides, and PA ministers are now asking Qaradawi to annul thisfatwa.12

Parallel to the Qatar conference, a meeting took place in Jordan of the International Committees of the Global March to Jerusalem.13 This, and also the attendance of central British figures previously tied to land convoys to Gaza and flotillas in Qatar, strengthen the impression that the conference in Qatar was timely and had been scheduled to coincide with preparations for the march. It is also noteworthy that several British politicians, like Baroness Jenny Tonge (who quit her position as the Liberal-Democrat Party whip after refusing to apologize over her remarks about Israel),14 were listed as representatives of the Council for European-Palestinian Relations (CEPR), a Belgian-based political front established in 2010 by European Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figures connected to the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), including Dr. Arafat Shukri, head of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) and director of the London-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), which Israel sees as affiliated with Hamas.15

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‘Global March to Jerusalem’: An Attempt to “unravel the Zionist edifice”

The following essay was originally published at The Jewish Press

The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) on March 30 (a date which commemorates what’s known as Palestinian Land Day), is a high-profile provocation involving groups of international “activists” who intend to set out from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt and converge upon Israel’s borders demanding the “right” to reach Jerusalem.

Concurrently, they also plan to “besiege Israeli embassies over the world”

The broader aims of GMJ, according to the project’s official website, are as follows:

 “[To] end the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and [racist]…Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem… [which] is a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity”

The site further claims that their efforts “will ward off Israel’s threat to world peace through the ‘Judaization’ of the holy City”.

The organizers are a conglomerate of individuals and groups representing the ‘red-green alliance.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the government of IranHezbollah, Islamic JihadWestern Islamists, the extreme left, and radical NGOs have united with the aim of engineering a PR disaster for Israel and advancing their long-term assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

However, the broader goal of GMJ needs to be understood, and certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who understand the malevolence of those involved in such delegitimization campaigns.

One of the organizers of the march wrote the following in an email to a fellow activist about their intentions:

 “The point is that how do we build a movement that compels the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon & Syria to let us in (which is easy) & then let us march across the borders into Palestine, challenging the Israeli army…Imagine a situation where we have more than a million people streaming in from four borders & Israel fails to stop the human tide. Once we have broken this mental barrier, then it’s all over. Next time we will have 5 million who will be marching in & it will only grow from there. This is exactly the nightmare situation for Israel.  Thus [we] will undermine the Israeli state, like no other strategy & then it will all begin to unravel & the Zionist edifice which is unraveling as we speak, will soon fall. It’s a matter of time now, as we well know.”

Unlike other such campaigns in the past, such as the “Nakba Day” protests on Israel’s borders last May, GMJ doesn’t even attempt to maintain the veneer of fighting for Palestinian rights

Obviously Israel, like any other sovereign country, can’t permit mass infiltration of its borders, especially by terrorists and other enemies committed to its destruction. The results are therefore likely to be even graver than the violent consequences of the organized Syrian attempt to infiltrate Israel’s northern borders in June 2011 – an event which marked the 44th anniversary of the Arab “downfall” in the Six Day War, known as “Naksa Day”.

The GMJ event also needs to be seen in the context of the recent International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Qatar (Feb 26-27), where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing attendees during the first day of the conference, called on Muslims to go to Jerusalem and confront Israel’s accelerated efforts to “Judaize the city”. Abbas reportedly even claimed that Israel intended to destroy the Aksa Mosque.

As with the 2nd Palestinian Intifada, which claimed over 1000 Israeli lives between 2000 and 2004, and which was largely precipitated by calls from Palestinian leaders to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque (which they claimed was under Israeli attack), the cynical exploitation of issues relating to Jerusalem always has the capacity to incite Palestinians, and provoke riots, violence and bloodshed.

Such potentially dangerous conflagrations clearly represent scenarios the march’s organizers are counting on.

Global March to Jerusalem website server host unmasked

Taking look at the subject of the registration and hosting of the various GMJ websites, it transpires that they share an IP address with the website of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission – the Islamic Republic of Iran aligned Shia missionary organisation in the United Kingdom. The server hosting both the AhlulBayt site and the GMJ sites is registered to a Leicester resident named Shabbir Hassanally. Read all the details here.

Mr Hassanally appears to be quite a fan of Hizbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah. In fact he puts considerable effort into making English language sub-titles for Nasrallah’s frequent speeches which he then posts on his own blog – apparently unconcerned by the fact that Hizbollah’s military wing is proscribed by his own government and that the glorification of terrorism is a criminal offence in the UK.

Hassanally has also acted as roving reporter in Lebanon for the Palestine Telegraph – founded and edited by Sameh Habib (aka Sameh Akram Subhi Habeeb) who is also spokesman for the flotilla-organising ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ which was set up by the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm – the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) – in 2007. The Palestine Telegraph proved to be too extreme even for its former patron Jenny Tonge and it and its editor have been involved in multiplescandals.

Here is Shabbir Hassanally celebrating the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian regime last year. Note his apparent subscription to the messianic Mahdi concept and his description of Israel as “the cancer occupying our beloved Palestine“.