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Global March to Jerusalem Is Not All About Palestinian Rights

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As I have mentioned in previous articles, in the absence of a political settlement, Palestinians will undertake unilateral measures to pressure Israel for concessions and recognition. On March 30, the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ), a nongovernmental organization comprised primarily of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim supporters but also from notable American personalities including Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, will commemorate Land Day - a day in which six Israeli Arabs were killed thirty-six years ago for protesting what they viewed as discriminatory measures by the government. Peaceful marches are scheduled to occur along Israel's borders in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and before Israeli embassies worldwide.

The GMJ aims to eliminate "the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem" and insists that that its solidarity mission will be conducted nonviolently. The GMJ does not advocate a military solution to achieve their goals like Hamas and Hezbollah; however their militant agenda may certainly be implied.

The organization's logo shows a map of Palestine in place of Israel. They view Israel as an illegitimate, neo-colonial and racist entity which must be liberated. The GMJ rejects a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state. Instead, it insists on "renewing the struggle to liberate Palestine," a common euphemism for the destruction of Israel.

It is unclear how many activists will participate. If social media is any indicator, there are dozens of Facebook pages supporting the protests, with over 9,200 "likes" on the GMJ fan page. However, many supporters could be "armchair activists" primarily in Europe and North America. The actual number of participants may be significantly lower. We shall soon see.

Nonetheless, protests in support of the GMJ have already occurred throughout the Arab world. On March 25, David Saranga, an Israeli diplomat visiting Morocco, was evacuated after 100,000 demonstrators protested his presence by hoisting Palestinian flags and shouting "the people want to free al-Aqsa" and "a million martyrs are going to Jerusalem." Saranga also witnessed swastika symbols and the burning of Israeli flags.

Last weekend, dozens of activists from the GMJ rallied before the Israeli Embassy in Turkey. One protestor allegedly asserted, "Millions of people will gather at the borders of Palestine and will be willing to die for the cause and for Jerusalem." Other members chanted "death to Israel" and "death to America."

Jordanian officials confirmed on March 25 that they will allow protestors to march in the Jordan Valley as long as protestors do not infiltrate the West Bank. For its part, Israel is taking these actions seriously and will deploy riot control soldiers, although some intelligence officers believe West Bank Palestinians will not actively participate because they do not wish to jeopardize their relative economic and security prosperity.

If Palestinian rights were truly the GMJ's raison d'etre, it would organize rallies and protests against Palestinian discrimination in Lebanon where 300,000 Palestinian refugees live in overcrowded camps and dire social and economic conditions. They are also legally barred from owning property and from working in certain areas.

During the last decade, Jordanian authorities arbitrarily rescinded more than 2,700 Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship, depriving them of basic access to health care and education. In Syria, more than 5,000 Palestinians have been displaced from their camps in Latakia after government forces bombarded the city.

While some GMJ activists may genuinely support Palestinian rights, there is a large component which advocates Israel's liquidation. Moreover, the movement should be discredited for its own hypocrisy of proclaiming to champion Palestinian rights and singling out Israel, while ignoring the abuses taking place on a daily basis in the Arab world.