The Global March to Jerusalem: in solidarity with Palestinians under occupation

*posters for the Global March to Jerusalem, in Shatila camp, Beirut, Lebanon

March 27:

Day one in Beirut, where over one hundred human rights activists from around the world are gathering to join Lebanese and Palestinian activists in the Global March to Jerusalem on March 30, also Palestinian Land Day. Over 20 have come from North America and Europe, and an Asian caravan carries justice activists from 11 countries to join the March.

Local and international organizers have been working on the campaign for months, coming together under an umbrella of non-violent action against Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem—a holy city for all—which Israeli leaders have openly declared their intent of forcefully rendering more Jewish. The long and varied list of the March’s endorsers includes: Jamal Juma’a, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall campaign; Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire; Jewish activists like Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and South Africa’s Ronnie Kasrils; a former member of the German Parliament; Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, former Prime Minister of Malaysia; Princeton’s Dr. Cornel West, and Princeton’s Richard Falk; as well as numerous Jewish and Christian justice organizations, including Independent Jewish Voices, Not in Our Name (NION): Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism, Unitarian Universalists For Justice In the Middle East, and United Progressives.

That said, Zionist media, as it always does towards non-violent actions, is accelerating its accusations that the Global Marchers will use violence, something refuted numerous times in the GMJ’s call-out and mandate. Excerpts from the website specifically state:

The Global March to Jerusalem is a global peaceful movement which does not use violence to achieve its goals.

The Global March to Jerusalem does not represent any one faction or political party but we call for participation of all social forces, political factions, and ideologies.

Among other things, The Global March to Jerusalem demands access to Jerusalem for all peoples; to uphold Palestinian rights under international law, including all Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

In 2010, before Israeli commandos air-dropped and climbed from Israeli navy boats onto boats in the Freedom Flotilla sailing to Gaza in May 2010, Zionist media likewise claimed worries of violence from the over 600 non-violent activists sailing from around the world to the Gaza Strip. With this self-justification, Israeli authorities ordered their commandos to board the Mavi Marmara shooting, killing nine activists, many “execution style” as Canadian Kevin Niesh reported. Israeli authorities use the same pretense of “self-defense” and “security” in ordering Israeli soldiers’ daily fire on unarmed Palestinian fishers and farmers or civilians in the border regions, and in waging sporadic and frequent bombing attacks on the civilians of Gaza.

But in Jerusalem, it is Palestinians’ security, and that of the city’s holy and historical sites, that the the Global Marchers are concerned about. In addition to the Palestinian homes in Jerusalem that have been forcibly taken over by Jewish colonists over the last many decades, Palestinians also endure hate crimes, like the “death to Christians” graffiti in Hebrew on a monastery attacked by Jewish colonists, and the “death to Arabs” likewise written in Hebrew on a Jerusalem school playground.

The Israeli intention of rendering the city Jewish necessitates expelling its Christian and Muslim Palestinians, and rapidly-expanding the illegal Jewish colonies in Jerusalem. Israel’s separation Wall, a mammoth concrete construction 4 times as long and twice as high as the Berlin Wall, which snakes deeply into the occupied West Bank, annexing at least 12 % of Palestinian land, completes the job of separating Palestinians from one another, their families, and Jerusalem: while Israelis, Jews from around the world, and tourists are encouraged to live in or visit Jerusalem, Palestinians both from the occupied West Bank and those from Jerusalem whose neighbourhoods have in recent years been deemed “non-Jerusalem” by the Occupation authorities are essentially banned from the holy city.

Year after year, Christian and Muslim pilgrims from outside Jerusalem are denied access to pray in their holy places, particularly during significant times like Christmas, Ramadan, and other important religious holidays.

For years, Israelis and Israeli soldiers have repeatedly been entering the compound, containing the Al-Aqsa mosque, provoking tensions between Muslims praying there. In February, a right-wing Israeli politician tried to enter to handout pamphlets essentially calling for Palestinians’ “removal”.

The corporate media will report on “clashes” in Jerusalem. But inevitably there is no context: no mention of the Jewish colonists who try to enter to vandalize the mosque or terrorize worshippers, for example, as in February. No mention of the tear gas and stun grenades fired on Palestinians demonstrating outside the mosque a week later.

The Zionist agenda of expelling the Palestinians from Jerusalem entails denying Palestinians specifically—not Jewish Israelis—housing permits, fining Palestinians for not having such permits, forcing them to either demolish their own home or stand by as the Israeli occupation army’s towering armoured bulldozer does the job of destroying evicted Palestinians’ homes.

The Israeli Coalition Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD) reports that “since 1967 at least 24,813 houses have been demolished in the [occupied] West Bank, [occupied] East Jerusalem and [militarily-controlled] Gaza.” Among these, Israel has demolished around 2000 homes in East Jerusalem.

Regarding the issue of unattainable Palestinian housing permits, ICAHD reports that “despite a shortage of 25,000 housing units in the Palestinian sector, the Jerusalem Municipality grants just 50-100 building permits each year for Palestinian housing.” They further note that “from 1967 -2003, 90,000 housing units were built in East Jerusalem settlements for Jews, most with government subsidies. None were built for Palestinians with public funding.”

Sarah Colborne notes that since “Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, more than 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency rights revoked,” and that a staggering “20,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem have been issued with demolition orders.” Currently, in Silwan, Colborne reports, “1,000 residents are facing imminent eviction as their homes make way for the King David tourist park.”

In February, Raquel Rolnik, the UN Special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing: “Israel is systematically implementing a discriminatory policy of housing and planning in Israel, East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.”

She said she had “witnessed the effect of Israeli policies in East Jerusalem which “severely restrict Palestinians from building legally.” criticizing Israel’s “Judaization and control of the Jerusalem,”

On March 30, 1976 Israeli soldiers gunned down 6 Palestinian protestors with Israeli citizenship who were protesting non-violently the Israeli annexation of more Palestinian land. Since then, Palestinians have commemorated Land Day every March 30.

In Gaza, of the Land Day protests I joined, one significant one was March 2010 when protests occurred at various areas along Gaza’s borders. Four Palestinian youths were shot at different protests by Israeli soldiers, and only by fortune were not killed, despite one youth being shot in the head.

In Nakba Day protests last year, in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria, Israeli soldiers opened fire on non-violent protesters, killing 16 and injuring well over 100.

The March to Jerusalem is extremely important not only as it is a strong show of solidarity for oppressed Palestinians on Land Day, but also because it is important that non-Palestinian witnesses join their Palestinian brothers and sisters, in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan…to stand physically with them in solidarity and also to document if Israel does in fact start machine gunning the crowds, knowing well that Israel is fully capable of extreme violence against non-violent demonstrators. Events will also take place throughout the world on Land Day.

In Beirut, we meet and write and wait for Friday to roll around. Meanwhile, I go to the sea…

*Beirut’s seascape

*Israeli Apartheid Week poster in Bourg Barajneh refugee Camp

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2 comments

  1. I will be thinking of you all tomorrow as I clean my house before my Saturday concert for my students.
    My heart will be with you – it won’t be in the cleaning. :)

  2. cleaning is a good thing… cleaning the dirt… of Zionist policies. Think of it positively. Besides, you are a constant companion of Palestinians.

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