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.