This year’s Al Quds Day rally

Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Although Israeli attitudes to the settlements have hardened recently, many accept that East Jerusalem will one day become the capital of a Palestinian state. This idea, formerly taboo, has been mooted at the highest levels of Israeli politics, and will revive again. There is a corresponding idea of a shared Jerusalem among Palestinians.

In contrast, shortly after the Iranian revolution of 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini established an annual so-called Al Quds Day on the last Friday of Ramadan, with an associated rally which is still pulling crowds today. At Al Quds Day there is no perceptible difference between professed solidarity with Palestinians and visceral hostility to the existence of the state of Israel. Al Quds rallies are held round the world, each with a convenient hook. In Massachussetts Washington D.C., for example, they’ve contrived to fuse opposition to Israel with an anti-corporate message.

This year’s rally is on September 13th. Hopefully it’s clear that it has nothing to do with peace in the Middle East and nothing to do with human rights. Since its new facelift, you can’t search the site of one of its official supporters, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, by country and discover to your astonishment that Israel’s human rights abuses outnumber Iran’s several-fold – but the front page shows its priorities and these do not include the ongoing Iranian show trials.

You won’t hear calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, nor for an end to the occupation, nor the dismantlement of the settlements, nor equitable coexistence between Muslims, Jews and Christians. The reason for this, in the words of one of its official supporters, is that “Israel is the enemy of mankind”. So you’ll encounter intense vicarious nationalism on behalf of Muslim Palestinians coupled with even more intense denial of Jewish nationalism (i.e. Zionism), and you’ll probably read or hear the eliminationist message “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as well as the Holocaust-denying “Zionist Nazis are the same / Only difference is the name” and scapegoating “End of Zionism = End of World Terrorism”. The Hesbollah flag will be flown, photographs of Khomeini dandled. Stop the War (No! Not that one!) Coalition officially support this event.

At Harry’s Place, Habibi introduces one of the main attractions and his associates. Given the tendency of Al Quds Day speakers to return year on year, it seems likely that this the same man who in 2003 addressed the assembly of avowed anti-Zionists with the falsehood:

“If you see terrorism today in the world (as you define it), if you see hatred going on everywhere in the world, it is because of the state of Israel.”

Hopefully it will rain on them again.

Read Peter Tatchell.

If you see terrorism today in the world (as you define it), if you see hatred going on everywhere in the world, it is because of the state of Israel.

22 Responses to “This year’s Al Quds Day rally”

  1. Ali Says:

    This is a very one-sided, superficial entry. In fact it misquotes and misrepresents (ie. the link for the “Massachussetts” is actually a Washington DC rally). However, a very important fact that this article fails to mention is that the Al Quds Rally are held and attended not only by “Holocaust-denying” and “radical” Muslims, but by many inter-faith, including Jews and Christains, and left-wing groups and organizations. This is a simple generalization to discredit the legitimacy of the rally, as it is no longer “officially” Iranian or even “Islamic” these days.

    The writer also failed to acknolwedge that this rally is not only a call for the oppressed in Palestine, but for all of the oppressed (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ireland, etc).

    Lastly, there are hundreds of rallies in the non-Muslim and Muslim world, yet the author uses only two (London and Iran) which are both organized by the Iranian regime or pro-regime Iranians.

    This piece is an example of how to generlize an entire population🙂.

    Peace,
    Ali

  2. Jonathan Romer Says:

    Mira,

    I obeyed your directive and read Peter Tatchell. In the middle of an otherwise fair and interesting piece, there’s this:

    “As a long-time supporter of justice for the Palestinian people, I decided to join the protest. I am against Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, its divisive Berlin-style wall, its illegal nuclear weapons programme and its often indiscriminate military operations that kill innocent Palestinian civilians.”

    Tatchell is welcome to support justice (however he views that) for the Palestinians. Good for him. But the rest of the paragraph shows him taking leave of his ability to think. No matter how much he or anyone else dislikes the occupation, that’s not enough to make it illegal. His description of the separation barrier is just a mindless adoption of someone else’s slogan. Is my garden wall “Berlin-style”? It, at least, is a wall. Otherwise, it has more in common with the Israeli barrier: it’s intended to keep intruders out, not the unwilling in. The nuclear weapons program, like the occupation, is not illegal — it’s just another thing he doesn’t like. And Israel’s “indiscriminate military operations” is merely an unsubstantiated slur.

    Peter Tatchell’s a very brave man and I admire him for that, but my admiration is lessened by his willingness to fling false charges around.

  3. letsgeteven Says:

    Peter Tatchell is not as extreme as the Al Quds marchers, but he has no compunction about distorting the truth and engaging in calumny against Israel. His writing is notorious for always containing some venomous falsehood concerning Israel and its supporters.

    He says: “I am against Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, its divisive Berlin-style wall, its illegal nuclear weapons programme and its often indiscriminate military operations that kill innocent Palestinian civilians….”

    Every single one of these accusations is false. The occupation of the West Bank is legal, and recognized to be so by UN Security Council resolution 242. The security fence is not Berlin-style – it keeps anti-Jewish murderers out of Israel – but even so was constructed with great reluctance. Israel’s nuclear programme is perfectly legal, since Israel never signed the NPT and will only ever sign it as a recognized nuclear power. And Israel’s armed forces aim their fire only at military targets – any civilian casualties that occur are always unintended, and are almost always a result of armed enemy combatants deliberately hiding behind civilians.

  4. Harry Goldstein Says:

    Is there going to be a counter-demo?

  5. Mira Vogel Says:

    Ali,

    Ireland?

    “the Al Quds Rally are held and attended not only by “Holocaust-denying” and “radical” Muslims”

    I *think* you may be trying to dissociate yourself from these elements (and by the way, I wouldn’t put “radical” – a word I didn’t use – in the same league as “Holocaust-denying”). But I dispute that you can march alongside these people, and achieve this dissociation. I think Al Quds Day has the reputation it deserves, and you give me no evidence to the contrary.

    letsget, Jonathan, I don’t like that paragraph either. But despite his antipathy to Israeli policies Peter Tatchell understands Al Quds Day perfectly well.

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      Mira,

      Thanks for your response. I was sorry to drag the thread immediately off-topic, but falsehoods like that need to not pass unremarked. Since you had promoted Tatchell’s article I didn’t know whether you were also endorsing that bit. I’m glad to know you don’t.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    “and left-wing groups and organizations”

    Well, that’s ok then, isn’t it.
    I mean what with the SWP saying that it is better to support a supersitiious “peasant” than a progressive secular Israeli;
    that Jews “scream” antisemitism to silence criticism.
    etc., etc. etc.

  7. zkharya Says:

    “The writer also failed to acknolwedge that this rally is not only a call for the oppressed in Palestine, but for all of the oppressed (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ireland, etc).””

    i.e. anti-Zionism is the socialism of fools.

  8. zkharya Says:

    I should say i.e. anti-Zionism is the NEW socialism of fools: Jewish nationalism is the enemy of legitimate nationalisms just as the Jewish nation was the enemy of legitimate nations.

  9. Rebecca Says:

    Why should an “Al-Quds Day” include a call for the “oppressed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ireland.” Al-Quds is Jerusalem, after all. And who is being oppressed in Ireland? Why does that country belong in the list?

    How about some other places where people are really being oppressed, like Burma, Tibet, the Sudan, Congo, etc.?

    Nicely selective in your choices of who is oppressed, Ali.

  10. Ali Says:

    Mira,
    You did not really address my points, but that is okay.

    Rebecca,
    Thank you for your response. The point is, it stands for all those who are oppressed. Sorry if I missed Burma, Tibet, Sudan, Congo, etc. There are a lot of oppressed people.

    -Ali

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      Al Quds Day rallies don’t “stand for all those who are oppressed.” They borrow oppressed peoples — preferentially those for whom it can be claimed that the oppressor is western or non-Muslim — to add heft to the attack on their real focus, Israel.

  11. Absolute Observer Says:

    The idea of “Al Quds Day” being about all the oppressed is an illusion. What it in fact does is you is to make Zionists/Israel/Jews the representative of all oppression. Zionists/Israel/Jews become nothing more than a symbol with the consequence that the real conflict disappears from view and is replaced by charicature. For those who understand these things, it is an anti-Zionist and anti-Jew day – i.e. the day of the imperialisms of fools.

  12. beetle Says:

    Good coverage of last years Quds Day in London:

    http://www.inminds.co.uk/qudsday2008.php

    The speech by Les Levidow is particularly interesting.

  13. Absolute Oberver Says:

    “in particular the oppressed Palestinians who have been living under zionist occupation for over 60 years.”

    Do the math, and ‘nough said.

    Well, maybe not. Try this fine collection of people interested in a lasting peace,

    “In the west Al Quds Day is commemorated on the weekend following the Friday, in the UK it was held on Sunday in preference to Saturday as it makes it easier for our Jewish friends to attend – Saturday being their Sabbath. For the last 10 years the anti-zionist rabbis of the Neturei Karta have formed a corner stone of the Al Quds Day rally. Other supporting groups included Crescent International, FOSIS, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends Of Lebanon, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Innovative Minds, Islamic Centre of England, Islamic Human Rights Commission, MCB, Palestine Internationalist, Palestine Return Centre, Respect Party, and Stop the War Coalition.”

  14. Absolute Oberver Says:

    I guess NK dodn’t have a pressing engagement at a Holocaust Denial Conference that allowed them to make this latest debacle

  15. Absolute Observer Says:

    Guess what one means by “good coverage”.

    A day in which all the oppressed are “remembered” and yet all the photos concern, erm, “Zionst Occupation”, “We are all Hizullah”, “Boycott Israel”, “Zionst State Terror”.

    At least be honest and admit it is a Israel/Zionist/Jew hate-fest!

  16. Absolute Observer Says:

    Not sure why this speech should be deemed “particularly interesting”; unless, of course, one is interested in studying in condensed form every thread of the absurdities that combine to demonise Israel “apartheid and worse than apartheid; an imperial and colonial project, the destruction of the Jewish state, “surplus humanity” with the echoes of genocide implicit within it” and “political laboratory for the war on Terror”.

    He forgot “child killers”, but fortunately a poster is there to remind us.

    “In 10 minutes he managed to cover the entire issue starting with the racist roots of the Zionist project. He compared and contrasted Israeli apartheid with South African apartheid explaining why people who have lived through South African apartheid describe the Zionist version as far worse. He also emphasised that the occupation must be challenged on its colonialist/imperialist basis rather than any religious basis. He also qualified what is meant by occupation: “when we say ‘end the occupation’ we should make clear the occupation IS the Israeli state itself, not simply its control of the West Bank and Gaza.

    He touched upon Naomi Klein’s observation of the Zionist strategy of ‘warehousing’ Palestinians: creating a network of open holding pens for millions of people who have been categorised as ‘surplus humanity’, and how Israel has became a political laboratory for the so called war on terror. He explained that Western governments only give aid to the Palestinian authority (Arafat, then Abu Mazen) so that it can better police the Palestinians and prevent resistance to the occupation. Les Levidow ended his talk by suggesting ways in which ordinary people in the UK can play their part in the struggle, including boycotting Israeli goods and twinning their towns and schools to Palestinian ones.”

    There are several types of beetle; one is especially renowned for living in dung. Well, we have found the beetle and the dung of politics on which he or she rolls.

  17. Saul Says:

    One of course wonders why “beetle” should highlight the contribution of “a Jew” (unless it is pure coincidence that of all the speeches reported, that is the one they point out to readers of Engage).
    Perhaps, he or she thinks that if a Jew speaks the same libels as a non-Jew then it somehow, as if by magic, becomes true. Alternatively, they may well believe that whilst Zionist Jews cannot but lie, anti-Zionist Jews “speak to truth”.

    Perhaps, indeed, they see themselves in the person they find “particularly interesting” and who gets their political jollies posting on Engage.

    One is even wont to wonder if their mummy or daddy know they have access to the internet. Often with wayward children it is best to ignore them.

    That way they get bored and find something else to do. (Probably form a splinter group of a splinter group and end up boycotting themselves).

  18. NIMN Says:

    Absolute Observer,
    I think you misunderstand Beetle’s comment. Far from a “hostile” contribution, he has proved precisely Mira’s point about the nature of Al Quds Day. I now look forward to Ali’s response.

  19. zkharya Says:

    “Les Levidow ended his talk by suggesting ways in which ordinary people in the UK can play their part in the struggle, including boycotting Israeli goods and twinning their towns and schools to Palestinian ones.”

    Well, that answers the question which Linda Grant always asks: what do the boycotters want?

    According to Lev, no more Israeli state.


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