Global March to Jerusalem: damage control begins

Ha’aretz reported the following on March 28th:

“Haaretz has learned that major disagreements have developed between leading, mostly Palestinian, protest organizers in the West Bank and neighboring Arab countries, and other activists identified with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

It has also been learned that the protest organizers, who are billing the event as the Global March to Jerusalem, are attempting to refine their protest message and avoid a physical confrontation with Israeli forces.”

…….

“On Tuesday, the organizers of international protest marches scheduled for Friday expressed concern that the demonstrations could get out of control due to the involvement of outside activists, some from as far away as East Asia.

The rift between the initial organizers and the outsiders developed after a delegation of pro-Palestinian activists from East Asia and some Arab countries promoting the Global March to Jerusalem arrived in Iran and met with a senior Iranian adviser to the country’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran promised support for the protest, which was not widely welcomed by the initial group of mostly Palestinian organizers of the protest, who wanted to maintain their independence.

Particular concern is being expressed that the outsiders will take over protest marches and seek confrontations on Israel’s borders, particularly the Lebanese and Syrian frontiers, and that the outsiders will convey messages contrary to the original organizers’ wishes.”

These claims are of course disingenuous. On January 17th & 18th 2012, Mustafa Barghouti and other Palestinian representatives attended the Global March to Jerusalem Central Committee meeting held in Beirut. The committee’s final communique clearly stated that:

“The conference was attended by members of the Central Committee and representatives from national and international committees for the march, representing a large number of Arab countries and various continents of the Globe.”

The International Central Committee and the International Executive Committee and National Committees which were ratified at that meeting already included members from Iran and with connections to Syria and Hizballah as well as several representatives from “as far away as East Asia”. George Galloway – a former Iranian regime Press TV employee with links to both Hizballah and the Syrian regime – spoke at the meeting and the event was covered by PressTV, to which at least one committee member gave an interview.

Pre-meeting publicity stated the intention to organize convoys – including from Asia.

“The conference will also discuss the national events and actions that will be launched in all countries starting from mid January, 2012 and until the date of the march towards Jerusalem or the nearest possible point to it, from inside Palestine and the neighbouring Arab countries, as well as the convoys from Asia, Africa and Europe that will converge on the march date.”

Barghouti himself produced a video at the meeting calling for world-wide participation in the march.

However, now apparently some Palestinian GMJ organisers would like to persuade us that they were unaware of the march’s extremist connections. For their benefit, here is the Beirut meeting report which they seemingly neglected to read.

GLOBAL MARCH TO JERUSALEM (G M J) / Beirut Meeting Report
VENUE: DAL AL NADWA, HAMRA, BEIRUT, LEBANON.

As part of our ongoing effort to build an international mass popular movement centred on Jerusalem, we convened our first collective gathering of leading representatives from across 15 nations & 4 continents.

The agenda was to build a people’s movement across the world, wherein the issue of Jerusalem comes to the centre stage of International politics. The Israeli occupation of Palestine, lies at the centre of the geo-political crisis of our times & at the heart of that conflict, lies the core issue of Jerusalem.

The International delegates included:
1) Mustapa Mansour (Malaysia)
2) Feroze Mithiborwala, Gauhar Iqbal & Shaheen Kattiparambil (India)
3) Sabir Ejaz Karbalai & Maulana Qazi Ahmed Nourani Siddiqui (Pakistan)
4) Salim Ghafouri & Roohulla Rezvi (Iran)
5) Yalkin Gok & Omer Kesmen (Turkey)
6) Dr. Ribhi Halloum & Saud Mahfuz (Jordan)
7) Maan Bashour, Isaam Namaan, Nabil Hallak, Dr. Ali Fayyad, Prof Mohsen Saleh, Ali Barakeh, Visam Hassan, Dr. Nasir Haider, Munir Shafique, Rihab Mokahal (& other names that brother Nabil needs to complete & add from the lists) – (Lebanon)
8) Palestinians were present from Jordan, Lebanon, UK & other countries of the diaspora.
9) Dr. Magdy Hossein (Egypt)
10) Khalid Soufiani & MansourI Abdelah (Morocco)
11) Algeria:
12) Zaher Birawi (UK)
13) Paul Larudee (USA)

We also discussed the process with Ronald Kesliris (South Africa), George Galloway, Ghada Karmi, Kevin Ovenden, Rob Hoveman(Britain), Rami Zurayk, DR. Haidar Dekmark, Dr. Yehya Ghaddar, Hisham Yacoub, Dr. Abdul Malaksukkarie (Lebanon), Dr Abbie Bakan(Canada), Fra Hughes (Ireland) amongst others, who we met at the “Palestine Summer University” or then at smaller meetings in Beirut at our hotel.

Continued here, including the expression of clear intentions to have an Asian convoy visit Iran.

 “For example, the Asian convoy starting from India, would have to embark by the 1st of March & wind its way across Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria & into Jordan & plan to arrive atleast 3 days prior to our stated date.”

Turkish delights for the Global March to Jerusalem in Istanbul.

As previously reported, the SE Asia delegation of the Global March to Jerusalem (which has picked up some Iranian fellow travellers along the way) is currently in Turkey.

One of the Iranian delegates has provided photographs of the caravan’s reception at a sports centre in Istanbul on March 25th.

The event appears to have been hosted by the Turkish organisation ‘Mazlumder’ – otherwise known as ‘The Organisation of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples’.

Mazlumder is part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s network in Turkey. It was founded in 1991 and declares itself to be associated with Islamist organisations tied to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan. Its chairman, Ahmet Faruk Unsal was an AKP member of parliament from 2002-2007 and is also a senior member of the Hamas supporting organization, IHH.

Mazlumder collaborated with the IHH and George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ on a 2010 convoy to Gaza, where its chairman Unsal was received by Hamas  leader Ismail Haniyeh, along with the IHH’s head Bulent Yildirim. Also present on the convoy was GMJ spokesman and known Hamas activist Zaher Birawi.  Ahmet Unsal also took part in the 2009 ‘Masjid Al Aqsa Symposium’  in Istanbul together with Raed Salah.

The wording on the banners decorating the reception’s venue therefore comes as little of a surprise.