Friday’s March Supporting Palestinian Statehood in Jerusalem
For the first time ever, Israeli Jews and Arabs marched together in Jerusalem to affirm support for Palestinian statehood. Well, that was the official motto of the Solidarity Movement march. Judging from the signs and the chants, the real message was the liberation of the Palestinians from the 67 occupation, And there were a lot of chants and signs, in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, simply calling for the freedom of the Palestinians.
Out in force were what I would call the left wing of the liberal Zionists – the young two-staters who shouted in Arabic “From Sheikh Jarrah to Bil’in, Will be liberated Falastin”. But there were one-staters there as well, and it really wasn’t about that – it was about recognizing the political aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Stickers and posters seen: “Bibi, Recognize Palestine!” “67 lines – a Palestinian State Alongside a Jewish State” and my favorite one, “Only Free People Can Negotiate.” The march started at Jaffa Gate, winded around until Damascus Gate, then went along Nablus Road past the American Consulate, the St. George School, the American Colony Hotel, etc., and ending in Sheikh Jarrah. The main street around the walls was not closed for us, so the marchers had to walk on the sidewalk, sometimes only 5 abreast, and that was a pain. The whole march took around an hour and a half.
Young people were out in greater force than their elders. I saw a lot of people I recognized from the Sheikh Jarrah demos; the crowd was overwhelmingly Jerusalemite, despite the lead editorial in today’s Haaretz, endorsing the march. I would have liked to have seen more people from outside Jerusalem…but I am proud that probably the most politically rightwing Jewish city in the country had such a high turnout of left-wingers. Of course, some leftwing politicians were there, Zahava Galon of Meretz, Dov Khenin of Hadash. A lot of prominent academicians were there. A few people with kippot.
Numbers. Haaretz Hebrew edition reported 2,000; Haaretz English version at first reported but has now degraded that to 2000; Ynet writes 1500. The police, I am told, estimated 500, which was a joke. Since the march and rally went on for close to 3 hours, and people came and went, I would have said some number close to 2500, at least as far as I could tell.
Arabs were very supportive along the route but there was little organized Arab participation; a representative of the Popular Committees spoke at the rally, but that was it. I can’t blame them. I saw police photographers videoing everybody participating – what Arab would want that hassle, and for what?
Still, the day hasn’t yet come where a march like that gets 10,000 people in Jerusalem. That would indeed be a glorious sight. But it is Jerusalem in July, with a hot afternoon sun, so I was pleased with the turnout, at least five times the normal Friday demonstration turnout.
Kudos to the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Folks, and their helpers, for doing things so well.
A Palestinian East Jerusalemite’s view of the joint march
By Jalal Abukhater, +972blog
The writer, a resident of East Jerusalem, does not favor a two-state solution, but the joint demonstration did leave him hopeful that Palestinians and Israelis can work together for a better future.
Less than a week ago, I started reading on Twitter that there will be a large demonstration organized by Israeli Leftwing activists in Jerusalem protesting the new Boycott Bill and Israeli occupation of Palestinian Occupied Territories. I expected that activists will challenge the anti-Boycott law and chant for BDS or call for Settlement boycott as well as chanting for a Palestinian state, I was wrong. It turned out to be a march organized by Zionist leftists calling for a legitimate Palestinian state next to the state of Israel. I just lost all motives that would make me want to attend that demonstrations, but I eventually did, only as an observer and not a participant.
I am extremely critical of Zionism and I dislike the Two-State Solution for many reasons which I have mentioned in a previous article which you could take a look at here. [http://972mag.com/letter-to-israeli-left-choose-one-state-not-apartheid/]
I believe the one and only proper eternal solution for this conflict is one democratic secular state, it is not going to happen by Palestinians’ effort alone, nor Israelis’ effort alone, it will happen when Palestinians and Israelis decide to join hands to fight for the right to live together equally on this land. The West Bank, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, Lebanon… are not homes for Palestinians who were expelled from their homes in 1948, they deserve the right to live in their lands and enjoy equality.
Something that is worth mentioning is, as Ali Abunimah noted on his twitter, that the event official poster was slightly misleading. It was written in Arabic and Hebrew. Hebrew title said “We March for Independence” and the Arabic title said “We March for Liberation” معا نسير للتحرير. As I already said, this could be misleading, two different things, it should have said “Marching for Independence” too in Arabic rather than “Liberation” if liberation isn’t what they really seek.
I decided to attend this demonstration as an observer because I believed in the goodness of their short-term goals standing in solidarity with Palestinians living in threatened East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Shekh Jarrah, Silwan, Ras al-Amoud, A-Tur, and others and of course against illegal West Bank settlements. I decided to overlook the actual purpose they decided to march through the streets of Jerusalem. I simply despised the idea that many people there carried posters saying “Two People, Two States, One Future” That is an oxymoron. Three quarters of the Palestinian citizens in Gaza are refugees expelled from their homes back in 1948, and similar is the case in the West Bank. How would two separated peoples each living on a side of a border holding hostility to each other have one future? If they reconcile they’d live together, or the idea of one future would be out of reach.
While heading to the demonstration, I was lucky to meet an Italian guy who was active with Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah group, I began conversing with him on the background of this demonstration and why is he attending. His words actually gave me hope. He is not a Zionist, and he does believe one day those anti-occupation activists will refuse the idea of political Zionism. He said it would take them a while, maybe decades, but just as they became anti-occupation in few years, this generation can become the hope for a peaceful futuristic one Palestine-Israel state. “Everything positive starts from demonstrations like this” he said, and I appreciated that. I believe what he is saying is true.