The British Muslim Initiative (BMI) has issued a press release indicating that it will be hosting the 2nd “International Global March to Jerusalem.” According to the BMI announcement:
23 May, 2013 As part of the International Global March to Jerusalem, Londoners from different backgrounds are expected to converge outside the Israeli Embassy in London, to protest the ongoing Zionist occupation of Jerusalem.
Protesters are concerned about the effects of the occupation, particularly violations against the city and its indigenous Arab inhabitants – both Christian and Muslim. Israel continues its racist practices inside Jerusalem which contravene UN resolutions and international law.
Organisers of the London GMJ will stage a march in London on Friday 7th June 2013, coinciding with the 46th anniversary of the occupation of the eastern part of the Holy City, which is home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and other sacred sites. Addressing the march on 7th June will be prominent speakers, including politicians, community and faith leaders, activists, and campaigners.
Zaher Birrawi, spokesperson for the London GMJ, explained that ‘one of the purposes of the London march is to make a strong stand against Israel’s racist policies and the systematic Judaisation of the Holy City’.
Convenor of 2012 GMJ London march, Sarah Colborne, remarked that ‘it is unacceptable that Israel is allowed to perpetrate policies and crimes against the Palestinians with impunity in full sight of the world community. We are here to mobilise popular efforts towards exposing the racist character of the Israeli occupation.’
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Key UK members of the Global March International Central Committee are Zaher Birawi, a leader at the Palestinian Return Center with many ties to the UK Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammad Sawalha, also tied to the UK Brotherhood and said by Israeli intelligence to be a former Hamas terrorist commander. The British Muslim Initiative (BMI) itself is part of the UK Muslim Brotherhood.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) published a report on last year’s march titled “The Global March to Jerusalem: Part of the International Campaign to Delegitimize Israel” by analyst Ehud Rosen that examined last years GMJ. The conclusions of the report are largely valid for this year’s march:
- Over the past few years there has been a Palestinian campaign focusing on the so-called “Judaization” of Jerusalem. A number of related topics have been raised recently in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign initiated by leading figures in the PA, Hamas, and Muslim Brotherhood.
- In January 2012, the European Preparatory Committee for the Global March to Jerusalem published an invitation for participation and support. The organizers are aiming to hold marches to Jerusalem “or the nearest point to it” on March 30, to coincide with the annual Palestinian “Land Day.” Originally, marches were planned in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the four neighboring countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
- The European Preparatory Committee is comprised of members of UK Muslim Brotherhood circles and a member of the Free Gaza movement (founded by the International Solidarity Movement, ISM), this time joined by the anti-imperialist camp. The original idea is said to have come from participants in the December 2010 “Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan.”
- In February 2012, various national committees began their preparations, including in Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Iran. More than twenty Palestinian organizations have endorsed the march.
- It is hard to predict the results of these preparations. However, the participation of Sunni-Islamist circles is increasing, encouraged by their rise due to the Arab Spring. Fatah, the PLO, and the PA are becoming more involved as well, as are more Islamist jihadi forces and far-right European elements.
According to one somewhat polemical but accurate report, the 2012 GMJ was a complete failure. As the report notes, the organizers claimed that the event was a success by apparently redefining its objectives stating “The organizers, …. do not pay great attention to the number of participants in the rallies, but rather to the number of countries joining the protests, as that reflects the support for Palestine.”