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.”

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Global March to Jerusalem journalist/activist Kunal Majumder’s selective reporting

 Kunal Majumder, journalist for the Indian weekly political magazine, Tehelka, is embedded with the SE Asia delegation to the Global March to Jerusalem which, after having been joined by Turkish activists en route, is currently on its way from Turkey to Lebanon.

In his latest article Majumder appears to have succumbed to the phenomenon of an over-active imagination which seems to be plaguing so many GMJ participants.

“As the Asian delegates prepare to leave for Beirut from the Port of Tasucu in Turkey, the talk among the protesters is whether Israeli forces will follow the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) ship like it did last time during the Asian convoy to Gaza. A cargo ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists was followed as it traveled from Latakia port in Syria to Al-Areesh in Egypt on 1 January 2011. The memories of the Mavi Marmara massacre in 2010 are still fresh in the minds of the Turks.”

“Even as activists of GMJ use multiple methods to publicise the event, counter publicity stunts allegedly on behalf of Israel is at work. An anti-GMJ website called http://www.gm2J.co has been constantly following the activities of the march and making numerous allegations. It claims to be a forum to expose “the truth about the Global March to Jerusalem.” Among numerous mails and online forums targeting GMJ, the most amusing attack came from “WORLD MUSLIM ZIONIST ORGANIZATION” based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It claims that there is an extensive history of collaboration of GMJ organizers with the jihadist Palestinian war criminals in Gaza, the Fatah gangsters in Ramallah, and the Hizbullah heretics in Beirut.” The organisers have refused to respond to such allegations.”

Of course Majumder is being somewhat disingenuous here. It is difficult to believe that he does not know of the participation of Ajit Sahi – until fairly recently his former executive editor at Tehelka – in the 2010/11 Asian convoy to Gaza and that Sahi was on board the ship he mentions above as having been followed.

Ajit Sahi (right), senior journalist from India on the caravan

It is also difficult to believe that Majumder is unaware of the fact that among Ajit Sahi’s fellow travelers on that convoy were Global March to Jerusalem organisers Feroze Mithiborwala, Mustapa Mansour, Sandeep Panday, Shaheen Kattiparambil, Gauhar Iqbal, Shaheen Mohideen, Salim Ghafouri and Roohulla Rezvi.

Equally unlikely is the possibility that Majumder is unaware that the Asia to Gaza convoy was aided in its organization by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-linked IHH, or that it visited Iran, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon en-route with its participants meeting senior members of the Syrian Ba’ath party, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khaled Masha’al , Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al Zahar in person.

Gauhar Iqbal (first on the left)

Roohulla Rezvi visiting the tomb of Hafez al Assad whilst en route with the Asia to Gaza convoy

Feroze Mithiborwala presenting Khalid Masha'al with a gift in Damascus whilst en route with the Asian convoy in 2010

Mithiborwala meeting Mahmoud al Zahar upon the arrival of the Asia to Gaza convoy

Majumder must also be aware that Ajit Sahi has shown considerable support for and collaboration with both Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and its youth group the Solidarity Youth Movement’. He might even be privy to the fact that even whilst Sahi was still his boss, he was already on the GMJ organiserse-mail list.

He will of course know that just a few days ago Sahi, along with Muthu Krishnan, (both of whom will be joining the GMJ in Jordan) in Hyderabad organized by Hyderabad City Students Islamic Organization and Friends of Palestine in solidarity with the Global March to Jerusalem.

“Addressing the participants of this long March, Mr. Ajit Sahi, Editor Tehelka and a renowned journalist expressed his support for the proposed march and said that the atrocities on Palestinians should be stopped by Israel. He appealed to all the countries of the world to bring Israel to the talking table. It should be imposed many restrictions. Private companies of Israel should not be allowed to transact any business in our country. They should not be allowed to invest money here. Universities and academicians of Israel should also be boycotted. Economic sanctions should be imposed against Israel. Referring to defense deals, he told that all the defense transactions should be withdrawn. All diplomatic ties should be discontinued. Famous columnist Muthu Krishnan condemned the attack on Gaza.

Israel Govt. has deprived the Palestinians of their basic amenities. Even drinking Water and electricity supply has been discontinued. He appealed to the organizers of the rally to express their solidarity to Global Peace March.”

If Kunal Majumder is really unaware of all of the above, one wonders how on earth he got his job as senior correspondent for a magazine which describes itself as ‘investigative’.

If he is better at his job than would seem from his latest articles, then his indignant cries of wolf indicate that he has embraced the role of useful idiot’ for the GMJ convoy and that  ‘unbiased journalist’ he certainly is not.

Further in the above mentioned article, Majumder complained:

The anti-GMJ activists have even started targeting independent participants, including this writer, through Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.”

He also Tweeted his displeasure with certain “anti-GMJ activists”.

Tweet by Majumder

Additional Tweet by Majumder:

In fact, one cannot but wonder if his former executive editor’s well established connections to the Global March to Jerusalem organisers had something to do with his getting the gig in the first place.