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 Jersalem, 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)
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.
During the course of the last 5 months we have organized meetings & have discussed the proposal for the GMJ in Amman, Damascus, Tehran, Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul & Jakarta & after arriving at a consensus, it was time to sit collectively to discuss our political objectives, our plans, the preparations & logistics required & the structure of the movement.
After an intense political discussion, we arrived at the following agreements & conclusions.
Political Agreement: The clear & unambiguous agreement was that the time to create a popular mass global movement with a focus on Jerusalem had undoubtedly arrived, (or we have been rather late). The threat to Jerusalem is a reality unfolding before our very eyes, with the Zionist claim of Jerusalem as their eternal capital & the increasing Settlement blocks as they continue to usurp all of the land. The Zionization of the Holy City is leading to what some Palestinian’s refer to as “Vanishing Jerusalem”.
Thus the stated objective of the movement is to draw the international focus to the existential threat that lies to Jerusalem. The violation of all relevant UN Resolutions & International Law & the very violation of its sacredness & sanctity & thus the need to create a poplar mass movement was agreed upon by one & all.
Thus Jerusalem is the objective & it has the potential to unite & mobilise the masses. This also opens a new broad Palestinian, Arab & international front against Israel & the Imperial project. Thus the possibilities for a long sustained struggle are immense & have tremendous potential for the resistance movements the worldover.
Therefore the new emerging global mobilization on Jerusalem, complements the movements for Gaza, the BDS movements & all other ongoing Palestine solidarity struggles.
The form & content of the movement was then the next part of our discussion & agreement. The Arab revolutions that have inspired the entire world & the various ongoing Palestinian solidarity struggles are the models for our mobilization. The movement will be led by the people & will conform to the values of non-violent resistance & peaceful & creative means. Our strength lies in the sheer numbers, the energy & mobilization of the masses.
The Programme: Yes, issues did arise regarding the complexities of our proposal & it was through these very debates that we arrived upon the answers & the solutions.
We were all very clear that this is the first phase of building a mass movement on Jerusalem & thus the need to be creative & find new ways & devise new strategies, was the need of the hour. It is very similar to our experience on the movement to end the siege of Gaza, whereby mass international mobilization from the land, the sea & the air have brought Gaza to the international spotlight & Israel has paid a high diplomatic & political price for maintaining this inhuman siege.
Never ever have convoys from across the world, set out for Jerusalem & this in itself will do wonders for the morale of the embattled & besieged Jerusalemites & the Palestinians as a whole.
Thus our stated intention is to organize land convoys from across the 3 continents of Asia, Africa & Europe towards Jerusalem. The land convoys will begin from India, Morocco, South Africa & Britain & will all converge on the bordering states of Palestine, namely in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon & Syria, the bordering states.
Our effort is to mobilse delegates from all the continents & the 190 countries of the world, where participants will either join the convoys enroute or will directly fly into the bordering nations & join the movement.
This apart, our objective is to be mobilise upto a 1000 people of international repute & importance, so as to both create sufficient international pressure, as where as ensure media coverage.
The Palestinian & Arab masses will be mobilsied in vast numbers & they will be enthused & encouraged by the support & participation of the entire world to save & liberate Jerusalem.
Yes, our objective is to march to Jerusalem, but we are realistic about the situation & are aware that we will have to grapple with the Arab governments & the armies, before we can even reach the borders & march into Palestine & only then will come the Israeli factor. Thus we do not expect to achieve all our goals the very first time & this is a truism for all movements. Thus we will keep on marching till we do.
Under no circumstances will we accept Israeli visas to cross across & this is not negotiable.
During that very period, a 100,000 strong Palestinian march will be organized within Palestine itself & they will march to Jerusalem. Thus the overall planning & coordination of the movement will be in consultation with our Palestinian brethren, at every step of the way.
Thus let us not assume that we will be stopped, but we are prepared for contingency plans if we are. Also we need to plan & coordinate the mobilizations across all the four borders & each of the four countries will require a different plan due to the different & contrasting political realities in each of them. Thus each of the teams in these countries will have to prepare a feasibility study & submit the same within the next 2 weeks.
Thus we will proceed till we are asked to halt & our endeavour will always be to get as close to the borders & after that we will set up Camps, like little Tahrir’s to demand our right to go to occupied Jerusalem.
The number of days that we will continue to protest peacefully will be determined later & as per the existing political situation.
The Date: Friday the 30th of March 2012
This was an issue of intense discussion, as is always the case, as this again is a matter of political timimg & judgement. The earlier date of 29th of November (International Day of Palestine) was clearly far too close for the time required for the vast preparation & the gargantuan task on hand.
We then discussed the possibility of combining our march with the Al Nakba Day on the 14th/15th of May, 2012. Here it was stated by our Palestinian delegates that:-
a) The Right of Return march is essentially a day of Palestinian mobilization &
b) The critical issue of Jerusalem could in no way be either morphed, diluted or understated for its sheer importance & centrality, as it lies at the hear, the very core of the conflict & the geopolitical crisis.
Also the weather conditions were a factor, as clearly vast masses of people would be out in the open & marching or camping.
Thus finally, Friday the 30th of March 2012 (Palestinian Land Day) was chosen as the day when we would congregate & start marching towards Palestine, towards Jerusalem.
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.
Each of the land convoys will have to make their similar time-tables, as per their routes & so will all the international delegates who will be either joining the land convoys of flying in to the final destinations.
Structure of the G.M.J.:-
This movement which we all recognise has the potential to broaden, deepen & include far more nations & people’s than ever before, for the simple reason that it includes the word Jerusalem!
Thus the structures will have to be created to make the movement as inclusive as possible & at the same time create structures for a cohesive international leadership, that can discuss & take the decisions, as & when required & this matter is again of critical importance.
Thus the structure that was discussed & agreed upon is as follows:
1) The International Committee for the GMJ:
This would include a broad cross-section of important people of socio-economic-religious & political importance & should represent the plurality of every aspect of that nation & the international community.
2) The International Advisory Committee for the GMJ:
Here about 20-25 people will be selected & they will be the ones who will play a guiding role in the movement.
3) The International Executive Committee for the GMJ:
The members of this committee will also number upto 20-25 delegates, from representatives from the various continents. They will constitue those members who will be working with total committment on a 24×7 basis. They will also include 1-2 representatives from each of the land convoys for total coordination at all levels.
4) The National Committee for the GMJ:
Again similar to the process for our movements for Gaza, where we created national processes & structures, we need to undertake a similar process in each of the countries to establish the national committees, that will undertake the responsibilities, as per the role of each of the participating nations. This will again further broaden & deepen the Palestine solidarity movements on a vast scale across the world.
5) Again this enormous task will require the following International Committees:
a) International Logistics Committee for the GMJ
b) International Budget & Finance Committee for the GMJ
c) International Media Committee for the GMJ
Do kindly note, that certain names were suggested & noted down in Beirut. The names in the various international committees will be finalised after more consultation, keeping in mind the international plurality & representation that the GMJ requires. Yet it must be stated, that there is a committed group of people that have been working on this project for a long time & all such considerations will be kept in mind. In any case, the work is proceeding irrespective of this fact, but at the same time no movement can succeed without a clear structure & leadership & that as well is evolving, as we continue to strive & build the movement for Jerusalem.
But again, certain names will be finalised in the course of the next week & this will only help in assigning clear roles & duties & in taking on responsibilities.
6) The Date of of the announcement is another critical factor, which was discussed at length.
One important suggestion is that we need to announce the GMJ during the course of Ramadan, as that will have a tremendous effect & impact on the masses & on the entire solidarity movement, both within Palestine, especially within the Islamic Peoples’ & across the entire world as well. We must use this occassion, was the consensus.
Also once we do decide, then we need to have a collective announcement in a city that we need to decide upon & then followed by a series of announcements across every city across the world, as & when they keep on joining the process.
But in the first phase, the key nations, that are heading the process, need to coordinate the press conferences so as to gain as great a momentum as possible.
7) A Website for the Global March to Jerusalem & responsibilities have been assigned & will be finalised within a few days.
8) Regional & International Coordination Meetings:
At the centre of our global mobilization, lie the land convoys & the fact that it is our endeavour to mobilise representative delegations from every continent & nation on Earth.
Thus after having finalised the Asian process our responsibilities, which we will undertake & accomplish through the “Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine”, we need to have consultative meetings in North Africa & in Europe.
Thus from the 11-14th of September we are organizing a series of meetings in Morocco, Algeria & Egypt, to cover the North African leg of the land convoy.
Similarly we have tentatively scheduled a meeting of the European nations in Turkey on the 24-25th of September.
We will be organizing both these meeting in total & prior consultation with all the stake-holders & our allies in the process, as each can contribute to the success of the meetings, by ensuring that all the various
political-ideological-religious & national diversities are represented therein.
Also from the 16-18th of September, the US coalition against Israeli Apartheid & the Occupation of Palestine are holding their annual convention & thus our US delegates will certainly introduce & organize a workshop on the GJM & start of the process in the US & North America.
Thus by the end of September, it is our endeavour to have created the consensus & the structures required across all the continents & the maximum number of nations possible.
And to end, we are embarking on a very important historic mission, which as it proceeds in successive stages & phases, has the potential to mobilise, unite & unleash energies & potentials yet unknown, but which can be envisioned.
The responsibilities that both fate & destiny have bestowed upon us & which we have all stepped up to accept, comes very rarely in the lives of revolutionaries & those that are committed to the Human values of love, freedom, compassion, mercy & an egalitarian world – & that is precisely what Jerusalem has symbolised for all these centuries.
Thus that is precisely the reason as to why the People from across the World will march to liberate Jerusalem, to liberate Palestine.