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August 21, 2012 4

Free Palestine! End ZioNazi Apartheid!”: A Snapshot of Al Quds Day 2012

Al Quds Day is com­mem­o­rated annu­ally with mass ral­lies and speeches on the last Fri­day of Ramadan. It has tra­di­tion­ally been marked by hos­tile rhetoric towards the state of Israel, includ­ing bla­tant anti-Semitism.

Al Quds Day Protest in LA

This year, for exam­ple, Iran­ian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad described Israel as an “insult to all of humankind” and called for Israel’s destruc­tion. Secretary-General of Hezbol­lah Has­san Nas­ral­lah sim­i­larly threat­ened that Hezbol­lah has the power to “trans­form the lives of mil­lions of Zion­ists in Israel to a real hell.”

While the largest Al Quds Day events gen­er­ally take place in the Mid­dle East, protests are also held in cities across the United States. The protests, which took place last Fri­day in a dozen U.S. cities, were rife with extreme lan­guage, includ­ing signs that com­pared Israel’s treat­ment of the Pales­tini­ans to the Holocaust.

In New York, L.A. and Hous­ton, large ban­ners read­ing “Stop Pales­tin­ian Geno­cide” were on dis­play, as well as other signs that read, “Israel is a Can­cer,” “Down with Zion­ism,” Holo­caust in Pales­tine” and “Gaza=Auschwitz.” A woman in New York held a sign that said, “Free Pales­tine! End ZioN­azi Apartheid! No $$ to ‘Israel!’ Boy­cott ‘Israel’.”

Speak­ers at sev­eral ral­lies also used fanat­i­cal rhetoric to denounce Israel. Rabbi Dovid Feld­man of Neturei Karta called for the “dis­man­tle­ment of the entire State of Israel” dur­ing an address at the Los Ange­les protest. Another Neturei Karta speaker, this one at the New York rally held in Times Square, led the audi­ence in chants of “Judaism, Yes, Zion­ism, No, the State of Israel must go” and “From the River to the Sea, Pales­tine will be free.” In a media inter­view, an orga­nizer of the Hous­ton protest pledged to con­tinue to “com­mem­o­rate” Al Quds Day, say­ing, “This demand for jus­tice will take place every year until Pales­tine will be free from Zion­ist hands!”

NYC Al Quds Day Flyer

A sec­ond speaker at the event in New York, ANSWER activist Sara Floun­ders, expressed implicit sup­port for Hezbol­lah when she addressed the crowd, say­ing “We stand with the resis­tance in Lebanon today.” Floun­ders, who also declared sol­i­dar­ity with the regimes in Iran and Syria, has pre­vi­ously par­tic­i­pated in con­fer­ences in Beirut attended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Hamas and Hezbol­lah. At one such con­fer­ence in Jan­u­ary 2009, Floun­ders said, “We need to mil­i­tantly sup­port Hamas…We need to make it clear that we sup­port the right to resist, the right to fire rockets.”

Many of the protests also fea­tured imagery and mes­sag­ing designed to fur­ther fan the flames of the con­flict and paint Israel as a vio­lent oppres­sor. At the rally in Los Ange­les, for exam­ple, sev­eral chil­dren held signs that read, “Israel is killing chil­dren like me.”

The Iranian-owned tele­vi­sion sta­tion Press TV reported on the Al Quds Day protest that took place in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and inter­viewed one of the speak­ers at the event. The speaker, Imam Abdul Alim Musa (an anti-Semitic extrem­ist who founded the Sabiqun move­ment) called for Israel’s defeat and described Gaza as the “biggest open-air prison.”

Al Quds Day, which refers to the Ara­bic term for Jerusalem, was ini­ti­ated in 1979 in Iran by Aya­tol­lah Khomeini.

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