Jerusalem – PNN – Earlier today, 3000 Palestinian supporters marched from Jaffa Gate through East Jerusalem to Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in support of an independent Palestinian state.
The march organised by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement had hoped for just over 1500 participants, but by the end of the march organisers stated that the reality was double the original estimate.
Healthy numbers of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals all participated; this global nature added a cosmopolitan feel to the march as it snaked through Jerusalem. Participants played drums and chanted slogans in Hebrew, Arabic and English; chants included ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Occupation is a crime, freedom now for Palestine’.
Many cars passing the march beeped their horns in support of the marchers who ranged from young and old as well as from varying ethnicities and religions.
Matan Feak, a megaphone wielding Sheikh Jarrah activist and Jewish Israeli citizen from Jerusalem told PNN he hoped today’s action would ‘demonstrate to the Israeli government and governments of the world that there are many Jewish Israeli citizens who are concerned about the occupation and the racist legislations passed through the Israeli government. I hope this march and others like it will help the Israeli government and governments of the world support the founding of a Palestinian state.’
International activist Alan Turner from California believed todays actions were ‘almost like an opposition to Jerusalem day’ where pro-Palestinian activists could show that ‘we are here and are not going away’.
Two small counter-demonstrations of little more than a dozen right-wing Israelis were also present along the route. Although these demonstrations ran close to the march, no confrontations took place as the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement upheld their promise to Israeli police of maintaining peaceful protest. Israeli police lined the route of the march but were never called upon as the steady stream of protestors acted peacefully and enjoyed their opportunity to protest on the streets of Jerusalem.
The march ended with a festival atmosphere at Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood with music being played, speeches being made and fireworks being let off.
Today’s march hopes to promote the idea of a two-state solution resulting in an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. Palestinian leadership has made clear their intentions for a statehood bid at the UN in September. This is after the Israeli government has rejected the possibility of peace talks based on the 1967 borders claiming they are ‘indefensible’.
An Israeli family who had made their way from Tel-Aviv for the days actions summed up the battle for left-wing Israelis who support the Palestinians and an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders: ‘We are a very small minority in Israel and so being here is more for our own conscience. It will always be hard to change things when the majority of Israelis are against you.’
(english.pnn.ps / 16.07.2011)