One of the most notable aspects of the popular ferment that has swept the Arab world over the last years has been the singular absence of a Palestinian element.
Arab nationalism and its Islamist successor long presented the Palestinian cause as the great unifying focus for all Arabs and/or Muslims. Support for the Palestinians and vilification of Israel and/or Jews are indeed near ubiquitous throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Yet the demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Bahrain were all concerned with urgent local issues.
An initiative is now under way which hopes to change this, and to direct and focus the energies of Arab and Muslim popular agitation squarely at the hated Jewish state. The name of this initiative is the “Global March to Jerusalem.” It is set to take place on March 30th. Its organizers may well find, however, that popular ferment cannot simply be summoned at will.
The Global March to Jerusalem is an attempt to realize a dream often expressed in pro-Palestinian circles. This vision imagines millions of Palestinian Arabs and their supporters from across the globe simultaneously converging on the borders of the Jewish state. As Ribhi Halloum, one of the main organizers, put it: “the protest aims to move the right of return possessed by Palestinian refugees from theory to practice.”
The GMJ intends to assemble activists in all the countries surrounding Israel. They will then begin simultaneously to march in the direction of the border. This will take place to coincide with annual protest marches by Arab citizens of Israel.
One of the organizers expressed the aims of the march in the following terms: “Imagine a situation where we have more than a million people streaming in from four borders and Israel fails to stop the human tide. Once we have broken this mental barrier, then it’s all over. Next time we will have 5 million who will be marching in and it will only grow from there. This is exactly the nightmare situation for Israel.”
The hopes that the organizers are investing in the march are thus not modest. They think they are about to initiate a process that will lead to the end of Israel: the GMJ, the activist’s email continues, “will undermine the Israeli state like no other strategy and then it will all begin to unravel and the Zionist edifice, which is unraveling as we speak, will soon fall. It’s a matter of time now, as we well know.”
This initiative is the product of an international alliance that has emerged in recent years between mainly Sunni Islamists and Western leftist supporters of the destruction of Israel. Observation of the original “advisory” and “executive” committees for the march reveal a number of familiar names of individuals and organizations from within this nexus.
What sets the GMJ apart somewhat from previous initiatives of this kind, however, is the notable representation of Iranian and Iran-regime associated groups among its backers. This suggests Iranian government backing for the march. The Iranian-linked groups form a third pillar, alongside the Sunni, Muslim-Brotherhood linked groups and the less important Western leftist anti-Zionists.