Coming Soon:The Global March to Jerusalem

Friday March 30th is an important day for Israel.  That's when Arabs celebrate Earth Day each year, but this year as many as 2,000,000 Arabs, Muslims, and their well-wishers will gather on the Lebanese and Jordanian borders with Israel and at West Bank and Gaza checkpoints for a Global March to Jerusalem.  Think of it as a Gaza flotilla on steroids.

Organizers of the event have been very clear about what they hope to accomplish:

"Our aim is to end the Zionist policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaization, which all harm the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem.  The GMJ is comprised of a diverse coalition of Palestinian, Arab and international activists who are united in the struggle to liberate the holy city of Jerusalem (the city of peace) from illegal Zionist occupation."

Ehud Rosen, author of "Mapping the Organizational Sources of the Global Delegitimization Campaign Against Israel in the UK", says that it's part of an ever-expanding push to undermine the credibility of the State of Israel in the eyes of the world.  According to Rosen,

"The political element has always been part of the struggle against Israel, yet less attended to than other, mainly violent sides. However, for more than a decade, the centrality of this element has expanded among those fighting against the existence of Israel as the Jewish state. Two parallel perceptions are gradually becoming the focus of the international campaign to delegitimize Israel - 'international mobilization' ('direct action') and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. As previously demonstrated in our research which focused on Britain - one of the main 'hubs' of this campaign - these efforts are being undertaken by groups that were never in the center of politics or mainstream public opinion, and therefore turn to places that might serve as bases of mainstreaming and recruitment - the academic world, a natural place for radical views and student activism; the widely developing NGO community and 'civil society' organizations; trade unions, which by their nature appeal to the more leftist side; various political echelons, sectorial and mass media, as well as religious institutions when relevant."

Jonathan Spyer, a Senior Research Fellow at the GLORIA Center, believes that it's an attempt to focus the world's attention on the plight of Palestinians and Palestinian "refugees":

"The Global March to Jerusalem is an attempt to realize a dream often expressed in pro-Palestinian circles. This vision imagines millions of Palestinian Arabs and their supporters from across the globe simultaneously converging on the borders of the Jewish state. As Ribhi Halloum, one of the main organizers, put it: 'the protest aims to move the right of return possessed by Palestinian refugees from theory to practice.'

The GMJ intends to assemble activists in all the countries surrounding Israel. They will then begin simultaneously to march in the direction of the border. This will take place to coincide with annual protest marches by Arab citizens of Israel."

The event's two main organizers, Hossein Sheikh-ol-Eslam and Salim Ghafouri, are Iranians.  Both of them are members of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence.  Sheikh-ol-Eslam also serves as Deputy Speaker of Iran's Parliament, the Majlis, and he is Iran's liaison with Hezbollah.  They have planned something special for the event.  Iran's Jewish community is being forced to join the parade:

"The Islamic regime in Tehran was not satisfied with the public support the Iranian Jewish community's was forced to confer on the Global March to Jerusalem for which Iran is recruiting Islamists worldwide. Now, the event's organizers, Majlis Speaker Hossein Sheikh-ol-Eslam and Salim Ghafouri, have ordered the community to send a Jewish delegation to march with the Islamist groups in Lebanon....


Iran's ancient Jewish community of around 15,000 souls (9,000 in Tehran, 4,000 in Shiraz and 1,300 in Isfahan) has been living in fear of reprisals should Israel or the United States carry out a military operation against the country's nuclear facilities.  Now, they face a fresh danger of murder and abduction by Hizballah and Palestinian gunmen and terrorists in Lebanon."

By putting Iranian Jews in harm's way, probably at the head of the parade, Sheikh-ol-Eslam and Ghafouri are creating a buffer zone between the IDF and Islamists and their useful idiot supporters who will gather at Israel's border on Friday.  Think of the Jews as human shields very much like the children that Palestinian demonstrators deploy when they attack IDF soldiers with rocks, rifles, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. 

It will be a made-for-the-media moment.  IDF soldiers will be positioned to protect their country's borders, and they will be forced to engage Iranian Jews first.  The pictures and the captions will be fodder for the masses.  I expect to see headlines like this on Saturday: "Israeli Soldiers Fire on Iranian Jews during the Global March to Jerusalem". 

Israeli officials say that they are ready.   They have deployed troops in preparation for possible border incidents, and they have warned their neighbors -- Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority -- not to allow the protesters to reach their borders.  Is that enough?  We'll see, but I have my doubts.  In the eyes of the event's organizers, the success of this so-called "peaceful" demonstration depends on two things: 1) masses of people gathering on Israel's borders waving signs and chanting and 2) photos of "Israeli brutality" on the front pages of newspapers around the world that are similar to the pictures following the 2010 MV Mavi Marmara incident.  On Saturday, we'll know for sure.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog,, is posted daily.