In commemoration of Al Quds Day, an annual day of protest typically held on the last Friday of Ramadan, large anti-Israel rallies took place in cities across the U.S. on August 2. The day is used to call for the liberation of Al Quds, which means Jerusalem in Arabic.
These rallies are notorious for their virulent rhetoric against the state of Israel, including, at times, anti-Semitic allegations about Jews and Israelis. Speakers at this year’s protests in the U.S. accused Israel of perpetrating atrocities against Palestinians comparable to the Nazi Holocaust, rejected Israel’s right to exist and expressed opposition to the renewed peace talks taking place between Israel and the Palestinians.
The following is a summary of some of the Al Quds Day rallies:
A large rally was held downtown with signs and banners that read, “Children Are Buried Alive, Holocaust Is Revived” and “Stop Palestinian Genocide: End Zionist Apartheid.” Protesters also led chants of “U.S. money is the cause, it’s another Holocaust” and “U.S. weapons go away. Stop the killing right away.”
An activist affiliated with CODEPINK, a group that seeks to reduce U.S. support for Israel, named Tighe Barry told those gathered at an Al Quds Day rally that “there’s a Holocaust going on in Palestine.” Barry charged that there is a “Zionist impression” in the American education system and relayed that he had requested that a teacher in his child’s school “teach about all the holocausts” as part of a course on the Nazi Holocaust. When the teacher refused, Barry said he offered to teach the class himself and miss work in order to “talk about these other holocausts that are taking place like the Nakba.”
San Jose, California
The Shia Association of Bay Area (SABA) held an Al Quds Day rally on its premises featuring talks on the conditions various Shiite communities face. A member of the congregation, Zaki Hussain, gave a slideshow presentation titled, “Should Shia Muslims Support Palestine?” in which Israeli policies were likened to Nazi persecutions. Hussain told the audience that as Shia Muslims and followers of the teachings of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini they have a responsibility to defend the Palestinians even though the Palestinians are Sunni Muslims.
New York City
Approximately 200 people gathered at a rally in Times Square where several speakers lambasted the existence of the state of Israel and the renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Bill Doares from the International Action Center described Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanon-based, Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, as “the leader of the resistance.” He summed up a recent speech by Nasrallah by saying, “as long as Israel exists, it’ll be the threat to the existence of Lebanon and its neighbors. So it is simple, one state in all of Palestine for all people.”
Ben Becker, a national organizer for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), used his time at the podium to condemn the latest peace negotiations, describing them as “nothing but a farce” and claiming that “they’re attempts to get some Palestinians to negotiate away those sovereign and national rights.” Fatin Jarara, an activist with the anti-Israel group Al-Awda NY, expressly rejected Israel’s right to exist: “Palestinians in the diaspora reject unequivocally any compromise over an inch of historic Palestine. Not just Jerusalem, not just the West Bank, not just Gaza.”
In addition to these inflammatory speeches, signs at the rally read, “Israel (crossed out), Much Worse Than the Nazis” (with a Swastika on it), Stop Palestinian Genocide: End Zionist Apartheid and “No New Negotiations! Palestine is NOT FOR SALE.”
The protests in the U.S. echoed what was said by international figures at demonstrations in the Middle East, including Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, and Nasrallah.
In Iran, where International Al Quds Day was established in 1979 by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad derided peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, claiming that the Israelis seek the “domination and plundering of the world and humanity” and that “today, all political leaders are Zionists.”
Nasrallah, in a rare appearance at a rally in southern Beirut, said, “Israel’s demise is a national Lebanese interest” and pledged that Hezbollah would never “abandon Palestine.”