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. 

Global March to Jerusalem: damage control begins

Ha’aretz reported the following on March 28th:

“Haaretz has learned that major disagreements have developed between leading, mostly Palestinian, protest organizers in the West Bank and neighboring Arab countries, and other activists identified with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

It has also been learned that the protest organizers, who are billing the event as the Global March to Jerusalem, are attempting to refine their protest message and avoid a physical confrontation with Israeli forces.”

…….

“On Tuesday, the organizers of international protest marches scheduled for Friday expressed concern that the demonstrations could get out of control due to the involvement of outside activists, some from as far away as East Asia.

The rift between the initial organizers and the outsiders developed after a delegation of pro-Palestinian activists from East Asia and some Arab countries promoting the Global March to Jerusalem arrived in Iran and met with a senior Iranian adviser to the country’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran promised support for the protest, which was not widely welcomed by the initial group of mostly Palestinian organizers of the protest, who wanted to maintain their independence.

Particular concern is being expressed that the outsiders will take over protest marches and seek confrontations on Israel’s borders, particularly the Lebanese and Syrian frontiers, and that the outsiders will convey messages contrary to the original organizers’ wishes.”

These claims are of course disingenuous. On January 17th & 18th 2012, Mustafa Barghouti and other Palestinian representatives attended the Global March to Jerusalem Central Committee meeting held in Beirut. The committee’s final communique clearly stated that:

“The conference was attended by members of the Central Committee and representatives from national and international committees for the march, representing a large number of Arab countries and various continents of the Globe.”

The International Central Committee and the International Executive Committee and National Committees which were ratified at that meeting already included members from Iran and with connections to Syria and Hizballah as well as several representatives from “as far away as East Asia”. George Galloway – a former Iranian regime Press TV employee with links to both Hizballah and the Syrian regime – spoke at the meeting and the event was covered by PressTV, to which at least one committee member gave an interview.

Pre-meeting publicity stated the intention to organize convoys – including from Asia.

“The conference will also discuss the national events and actions that will be launched in all countries starting from mid January, 2012 and until the date of the march towards Jerusalem or the nearest possible point to it, from inside Palestine and the neighbouring Arab countries, as well as the convoys from Asia, Africa and Europe that will converge on the march date.”

Barghouti himself produced a video at the meeting calling for world-wide participation in the march.

However, now apparently some Palestinian GMJ organisers would like to persuade us that they were unaware of the march’s extremist connections. For their benefit, here is the Beirut meeting report which they seemingly neglected to read.

GLOBAL MARCH TO JERUSALEM (G M J) / Beirut Meeting Report
VENUE: DAL AL NADWA, HAMRA, BEIRUT, LEBANON.

As part of our ongoing effort to build an international mass popular movement centred on Jerusalem, we convened our first collective gathering of leading representatives from across 15 nations & 4 continents.

The agenda was to build a people’s movement across the world, wherein the issue of Jerusalem comes to the centre stage of International politics. The Israeli occupation of Palestine, lies at the centre of the geo-political crisis of our times & at the heart of that conflict, lies the core issue of Jerusalem.

The International delegates included:
1) Mustapa Mansour (Malaysia)
2) Feroze Mithiborwala, Gauhar Iqbal & Shaheen Kattiparambil (India)
3) Sabir Ejaz Karbalai & Maulana Qazi Ahmed Nourani Siddiqui (Pakistan)
4) Salim Ghafouri & Roohulla Rezvi (Iran)
5) Yalkin Gok & Omer Kesmen (Turkey)
6) Dr. Ribhi Halloum & Saud Mahfuz (Jordan)
7) Maan Bashour, Isaam Namaan, Nabil Hallak, Dr. Ali Fayyad, Prof Mohsen Saleh, Ali Barakeh, Visam Hassan, Dr. Nasir Haider, Munir Shafique, Rihab Mokahal (& other names that brother Nabil needs to complete & add from the lists) – (Lebanon)
8) Palestinians were present from Jordan, Lebanon, UK & other countries of the diaspora.
9) Dr. Magdy Hossein (Egypt)
10) Khalid Soufiani & MansourI Abdelah (Morocco)
11) Algeria:
12) Zaher Birawi (UK)
13) Paul Larudee (USA)

We also discussed the process with Ronald Kesliris (South Africa), George Galloway, Ghada Karmi, Kevin Ovenden, Rob Hoveman(Britain), Rami Zurayk, DR. Haidar Dekmark, Dr. Yehya Ghaddar, Hisham Yacoub, Dr. Abdul Malaksukkarie (Lebanon), Dr Abbie Bakan(Canada), Fra Hughes (Ireland) amongst others, who we met at the “Palestine Summer University” or then at smaller meetings in Beirut at our hotel.

Continued here, including the expression of clear intentions to have an Asian convoy visit Iran.

 “For example, the Asian convoy starting from India, would have to embark by the 1st of March & wind its way across Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria & into Jordan & plan to arrive atleast 3 days prior to our stated date.”

Hizballah site promotes Holocaust-denying Global March to Jerusalem organizer

The Hizballah website ‘Moqawama’ features an interview with the GMJ media co-ordinator in Lebanon, Dr Abdul Malik Sukaryeh.

The interview’s introduction is written in typical dramatic Hizballah style:

“To there, they head.

Blood on the palms, eyes to the land, and hearts’ beats race the path. From all over the Globe they came with the same goal and one loud cry.

Al-Quds was, is, and will remain Palestinian.

Choosing an unprecedented path, they launched their move. From the close borders with Palestine they are to fulfill a dream and reiterate a vow.

“We’re to be back and pray in al-Aqsa Mosque and the Resurrection Church.”
March 30th, 1976: “Israel” massacred dozens of Palestinians striking “Israeli” decision to confiscate Palestinian lands. It was “Land Day”.

36 years later, freedom and justice seekers from all over the world gathered in a Global March to commemorate the anniversary and to raise a scream against “Israeli” continuous occupation of al-Quds Holy city.

In the body of the interview, Abdul Malik Sukaryeh stated:

“The move aims at redirecting the compass towards Occupied Palestine.”

“Amid what our region is witnessing, the Palestinian news have become at the end of our priorities and bulletins; this if Palestine was even mentioned.”

 “What Palestine is facing, particularly the Holy al-Quds city is much more dangerous than any development in any other Arab country,”

“The aim of participants is to draw attention to the systematic discrimination of Palestinians in al-Quds, and to make a concrete effort to end the occupation.”

“As the successive “Israeli” governments have created policies with one goal in mind: to get and keep Palestinians out of their homeland as well as to make way for a purely Jewish state; many Arab and Western governments stand idly by and watch as Palestinians endure systematic dispossession and displacement,” 

Sukaryeh went on to elaborate on the technical aspects of the march:

“Mass rallies will take place in bordering countries (Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan) and inside Occupied Palestine. However, Egyptian rallies are to be held in Liberty Square.”

“Part of the Global March will seize the “Israeli” embassies in Western, African, and Asian countries by protests that reflect the real nature of this suppressing terrorist entity,” 

He added that:

“Certain parties are pressuring to absent Syria from the global march scene under political pretexts,”

“The national Syrian committee is continuing its preparations as part of the move.”

“There are more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria who- with all the national Syrians, are to commemorate the anniversary of “Land Day” and to reassure their commitment to the genuine central cause; Palestine,” 

One cannot but wonder if Syrians engaged in the year-long struggle against Bashar Assad’s regime would agree with Sukaryeh’s priorities, but his statement does provide insight into the fact that any events on the Syrian border with Israel on March 30th will certainly be orchestrated and approved by the incumbent Hizballah and Iran-backed regime in Damascus.

Sukaryeh then went on to invoke the scepter of imaginary Israeli threats against the marchers – engaging in Holocaust denial along the way. (emphasis added)

“On the crossroads of hard choices, participants in the Global March to al-Quds are ready to face with their screams, banners, and position all types of “Israeli” brutality.

“Israel fears us,” Sukaryeh responded to “Israeli” threats of confronting the protesters with an iron fist.

“The Zionist front is witnessing a state of panic and dread. We estimate that the march has succeeded even before it started.” “

Sukaryeh recalled images from the flotilla “Israeli” massacre and May 2011 martyrs at the borders with Lebanon and Syria, wondering:

“Is ‘Israel’ going to massacre us? What is the international price for such an “Israeli” step? How much would “Israel” massacre, a thousand, or 10,000 civilians. This would be genocide, a real Holocaust not a pretended one.”

“The history of the Zionist entity is full of crimes and terrorism. We won’t be surprised if “Israel” attacks the peaceful protesters but we aren’t afraid and nothing will defeat our will even if the “Israeli” fulfilled its threats of air striking the rally. We are to continue,” the media organizer stressed.

Clearly, some GMJ organisers are actually seeking a violent confrontation which would serve their publicity purposes and provide an opportunity for further assaults on Israel’s legitimacy in bodies such as the UNHRC. Sukaryeh also reflects the approach voiced by some of the other non-Western organisers of the march according to which, the project aims to be the first leg of a ‘third Intifada’.

“He further noted that “Israel” fears a 3rd Intifada” welcoming “any public movement that redirects the priorities.”

“The so-called Madrid peace conference in which 100 countries gathered has achieved nothing along the past 20 years. Oslo offered nothing to the Palestinians. In front of the “Israeli” intransigence, one can see that Palestinians have nothing but to return to confronting the “Israeli” aggressions,” he stressed.”

Interestingly, Sukaryeh claimed that the GMJ project does not have its roots in the Middle East:

“What characterizes this move is that it was initiated and called for by international prominent and respected cultural, political, religious, academic, and sports figures from all over the world. It was not an event first launched by Palestinians or Arabs,”

This statement contrasts directly with that of GMJ organizer Paul Larudee who wrote:

“We hear some of the same arguments: that the project is too risky and confrontational. However, it is also true that the project was not the brainchild of any of these solidarity groups, or even of their Palestinian allies. Instead, it came from groups that represent large numbers of Palestinians – including many from the Palestinian expatriate communities in the border countries, such as the refugee camps, the Islamic movements and the supporters of armed resistance groups.”

What Larudee and Sukaryeh do have in common, however, is a somewhat strange definition of non-violence, which does not appear to include the storming and illegal infiltration of the borders of a sovereign country or trespassing in its diplomatic missions worldwide. Here is Larudee writing about GMJ plans in an ISM newsletter from December of last year. (emphasis added)

“The movement has no illusions about the difficulties, and its participants are not suicidal.  The plan is to challenge every part of every border – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank – to march peacefully to Jerusalem.  We will have hundreds of separate, imaginative plans for hundreds of separate groups, to overcome the obstacles at as many points of entry as possible, often creating our own entry points.  We will also have multiple contingency plans in case we are thwarted in some areas, as will inevitably be the case.  In many cases, the march may devolve into “Occupy” encampments and demonstrations.  Whatever happens, we will learn from it and make improvements the following year, for what we intend will be an annual event.”

Global March to Jerusalem: Latest Supporters

Predictably, the Mondoweiss blog has come out in favour of the GMJ, with a post by the Cairo GMJ representative and Occupy Oakland activist Noura Khouri (also a former staff member of the American Friends Service Committee and Badil and a member of Paul Larudees ‘Free Palestine’ movement ) following a previous one by Larudee.

Khouri’s article was duly reproduced on the official GMJ website.

The latest list of ‘VIP’ members of the GMJ Advisory Board as publicized on the official GMJ website on March 6th has on it several new names including Neta Golan of the ISM, Atallah Hanna, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Hilarion Capucci (a former flotilla participant and convicted gun-runner for terrorists) , Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, Ronnie Kasrils and Raed Salah.

Here is Archbishop Atallah Hanna – spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Church in Palestine – speaking at an Al Awda conference:

Quarrels within the anti-Zionist Sunni-Shia/Red-Green alliance?

It would appear that all is not rosy in the world of joint Sunni-Shia/Red-Green alliance project management.

From the Facebook account of ‘Viva Palestina Australia‘  we learn that initial enthusiasm for the GMJ project has been somewhat dampened due to apparent differences of opinion with co-ordinator Zaher al Birawi.

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