For the first time ever, Israeli Jews and Arabs marched together in Jerusalem to affirm support for Palestinian statehood. Well, that was the official motto of the Solidarity Movement march. Judging from the signs and the chants, the real message was the liberation of the Palestinians from the 67 occupation, And there were a lot of chants and signs, in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, simply calling for the freedom of the Palestinians.
Out in force were what I would call the leftwing of the liberal Zionists – the young two-staters who shouted in Arabic “From Sheikh Jarrah to Bil’in, Will be liberated Falastin”. But there were one-staters there as well, and it really wasn’t about that – it was about recognizing the political aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Stickers and posters seen: “Bibi, Recognize Palestine!” “67 lines – a Palestinian State Alongside a Jewish State” and my favorite one, “Only Free People Can Negotiate.” The march started at Jaffa Gate, winded around until Damascus Gate, then went along Nablus Road past the American Consulate, the St. George School, the American Colony Hotel, etc., and ending in Sheikh Jarrah. The main street around the walls was not closed for us, so the marchers had to walk on the sidewalk, sometimes only 5 abreast, and that was a pain. The whole march took around an hour and a half.
Young people were out in greater force than their elders. I saw a lot of people I recognized from the Sheikh Jarrah demos; the crowd was overwhelmingly Jerusalemite, despite the lead editorial in today’s Haaretz, endorsing the march. I would have liked to have seen more people from outside Jerusalem…but I am proud that probably the most politically rightwing Jewish city in the country had such a high turnout of leftwingers. Of course, some leftwing politicians were there, Zahava Galon of Meretz, Dov Khenin of Hadash. A lot of prominent academicians were there. A few people with kippot.
Numbers. Haaretz Hebrew edition reported 2,000; Haaretz English version at first reported 4500 but has now degraded that to 2000; Ynet writes 1500. The police, I am told, estimated 500, which was a joke. Since the march and rally went on for close to 3 hours, and people came and went, I would have said some number close to 2500, at least as far as I could tell.
Arabs were very supportive along the route but there was little organized Arab participation; a representative of the Popular Committees spoke at the rally, but that was it. I can’t blame them. I saw police photographers videoing everybody participating – what Arab would want that hassle, and for what?
Still, the day hasn’t yet come where a march like that gets 10,000 people in Jerusalem. That would indeed be a glorious sight. But it is Jerusalem in July, with a hot afternoon sun, so I was pleased with the turnout, at least five times the normal Friday demonstration turnout.
Kudos to the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Folks, and their helpers, for doing things so well.