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Luke Moon March 29, 2012
Some on the radical religious left endorse a potentially violent march against Israel. (Photo credit: Global March to Jerusalem)
On March 30, organizers of the Global March on Jerusalem (GMJ) are hoping huge crowds will turn out to march to Jerusalem “or the closest point to it.” Decrying the “Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies [of Israel],” the organizers have rallied supporters by claiming they will “confirm that the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.”
This message had garnered the support of anti-Israel activists around the world. They include 9/11 conspiracy promoter and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk; Queer Theorist and Post-Zionist Philosopher, Judith Butler; and anti-war activist and antagonist to President George W. Bush, Cindy Sheehan.
Several on the Religious Left have offered their support as well. One of the early endorsements came from former Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright. As Pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Wright was known for his fiery and occasionally conspiracy-laced sermons, such as blaming the U.S. government for creating AIDS. In 2009, Rev. Wright told the Daily Press of Newport News, whom he blamed for not letting his speak to President Obama: “Them Jews ain’t going to let me. I told my baby daughter that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office.” While he later apologized for his comments, his endorsement of the GMJ revives concerns about anti-Israel views.
As a new professor at Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Cornel West will find an eager audience for his anti-Zionist rhetoric. As a racial activist, West looks at the Israel/Palestinian conflict through the lens of racial identity. In his book, Race Matters, Cornel West wrote, "Blacks often perceive the Jewish defense of the state of Israel as a second instance of naked group interest, and, again, an abandonment of substantive moral deliberation.” But others have noted that even during the 1960’s black radicals often accused Israel of genocide and imperialism, in contrast with pro-Israel Martin Luther King, Jr.
Organizations endorsing the march include Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA), which has a long history of trying to de-legitimize Israel in the name of the churches. At the 2009 FOSNA conference in Washington DC, Richard Falk noted, “At this stage, it is a fundamental mistake to look towards intergovernmental diplomacy as a solution… We should look is towards mobilization and activation of civil society around the world.” Others from FOSNA have presented a more theologically rooted attack on Israel. Rosemary Ruether, Visiting Professor of Feminist Theology at the United Methodist-affiliated Claremont School of Theology has argued, “A Jewish state is systematic discrimination because it’s based on identity.” She faulted a “subtle form of Christian Zionism” that “hands over all of the Middle East to Israel.”
Perhaps more surprising is endorsement of the march by the Holy Land Trust. Co-sponsors of the recent “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem, the Holy Land Trust has sought to present itself as a more moderate voice for Palestinian Christians. Perhaps unaware of the true nature of the many extremist groups supporting the march, Sami Awad, Executive Director for the Holy Land Trust, sought to distance his group from any potential violence. In a statement to the IRD, Awad explained: “We are fully for nonviolence and will denounce any act of violence from this or any other activity that will, hurt, demonize or dehumanize Israeli society or the Jewish people.“
At least 4 people were killed and many more wounded trying to cross minefields and attack guard posts in the Golan Heights during similar marches last year. A pre-Global March on Jerusalem rally in Rabat, Morocco saw 100,000 protestors marching through the streets waving Palestinian flags and burning Israeli flags as they chanted, "The people want to free al-Aqsa… a million martyrs are going to Jerusalem." Such events, with endorsements from Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah funded by Iran, have already turned this march into the perfect storm of anti-Israel demagoguery. It’s hard to imagine violence will not soon follow.
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