"Death to Israel" signs carried in Tehran and Trafalgar Square in London
Sign carried in the demonstration in Tehran (From the occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com website)
Sign carried in the Trafalgar Square rally (From Richard Millet's blog)
Overview of this year's World Jerusalem Day events (August 31, 2011 update)
1. Jerusalem Day events were held on August 26 in Iran, the Arab-Muslim world (the Arab countries, Turkey, Southeast Asia and Africa), in Western countries and elsewhere. This year again Jerusalem Day events were exploited for strong incitement against Israel and the West (mainly the United States and Britain) and for support of Iran and the so-called "resistance" [i.e., the terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas].
2. The heads of the Iranian regime expected a larger number of participants than in previous years, hoping to ride the wave of popular protests sweeping the Arab world. That hope was expressed in a speech given by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on the eve of Jerusalem Day, in which he said that this year he expected mass participation in the events as "proof" of the faith of the nation of Islam in the Iranian regime. Iranian president Ahmadinejad also called on Muslims and non-Muslims alike around the globe to demonstrate massive participation in Jerusalem Day events. An initial examination of the events in various locations indicates that in most Arab and Western countries participation was slight (although the themes were particularly vicious and extremist) and the demonstrations did not receive significant media coverage (the Arab and Western media were engaged in covering other issues, such as the dramatic developments in Libya). On the other hand, in Lebanon and other Muslim countries (such as Pakistan) attendance was broad.
3. The main issues of Jerusalem Day were the following (details below):
1) Focal points of events: The main events were held, as they have been every year, in Iran, where Jerusalem Day has become a national event in which the Iranian regime's leadership participates. Other important sites were Lebanon (led by Hezbollah), Britain (with the participation of anti-Israeli organizations, most of them extreme Islamist participants in the campaign to delegitimize Israel), and Pakistan (where mass anti-American rallies were held with Shi'ite participation). Jerusalem Day events were also held in the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa.
2) Themes: There was a considerable similarity of themes at the various Jerusalem Day focal points. Prominent was hatred for Israel, with the leading slogan of "Death to Israel." Israel was defamed as an "apartheid state" carrying out the "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinians and calls were heard for its boycott (BDS)2 and destruction. (In Britain no attempt was made to moderate or soften the call to destroy Israel, and Jerusalem Day events were blatantly extreme-Islamist oriented.) In various places around the globe, including Western countries, support was voiced for "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] and for Hezbollah and Hamas (through the use of pictures of shaheeds from both organizations). The events were also exploited, as they are every year, for strong anti-West (especially anti-American) incitement, including slogans and the ritual of burning the American flag. There was also anti-West incitement in Muslim countries which maintain correct diplomatic relations with the United States (Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh). In at least one country (Turkey) signs were waved reading "Saudi king is a killer."
3) Iran joined forces with various anti-Israeli organizations in organizing and participating in Jerusalem Day events in the Arab-Muslim world and Western countries. For example, in Lebanon, again this year, the events were led by Hezbollah. In the Gaza Strip and Syria (the Yarmouk refugee camp) most of the Palestinian terrorist organizations participated in the events. In Iraq, pro-Iranian Shi'ites participated. In Britain, the United States and other Western countries, anti-Israeli organizations, mostly Muslim, participated in the events. Some of them were so-called "human rights organizations" which call for the destruction of Israel and participate in various aspects of the campaign to delegitimize Israel (propaganda, flotillas, convoys and BDS)
4) The influence of the popular protests in the Arab world on Jerusalem Day events: Iran was disappointed in its expectations that the popular protests in the Arab world could be used to their own ends by means of Jerusalem Day. For example, in Jordan the Muslim Brotherhood (and other centers of power) boycotted the event initiated by the Iranian embassy because of Iran's support for Syria. In Syria the events were low-key, in our assessment because the regime feared they might be used by its opponents. In Egypt a demonstration was held in front of the Israeli embassy on August 26, but no attempt was made to link it to Jerusalem Day.3 In Yemen, President Saleh's opponents participated in the demonstration. On the other hand, Hassan Nasrallah and Ahmed Jibril, who spoke at demonstrations held in Maroun al-Ras (south Lebanon) and in the Yarmouk refugee camp (on the outskirts of Damascus) expressed support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, praising it for its support of the "resistance" [i.e., Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations]. An illustration of that support was Syria's allowing Iranian aid for Hezbollah to pass through it into Lebanon (See Nasrallah's speech below).
5) Media coverage: The success of propaganda events like Jerusalem Day is measured by the volume of coverage they receive from the media. In that respect, Jerusalem Day was a failure for Iranian propaganda. Media coverage was skimpy with the exception of countries like Iran (where the national media were enlisted) and Lebanon (where the events were covered by Hezbollah's popular Al-Manar TV, which broadcasts via satellite to Muslims around the world, but not by Lebanon's general media.) In other countries, Jerusalem Day was covered mainly by the Islamic media, websites, blogs and social networks affiliated with Iran or the Islamic organizations participating in the events.
4. In our assessment, this year Jerusalem Day events showed an increasing Iranian desire to participate in the propaganda campaign against Israel. To that end the Iranians joined forces with radical Islamic organizations in Western countries (e.g., Turkey), terrorist organizations (e.g., Hezbollah in Lebanon) and Shi'ite Muslims (e.g., in Iraq and Pakistan). They also managed to join forces with organizations in Western countries participating in the campaign to delegitimize Israel, primarily with Islamist organizations (some of which represent themselves as human rights organizations). The Iranians are careful to remain behind the scenes, even if sometimes there are indications of their presence (emphasizing support for Hezbollah, even in Western cities like London; similar slogans in focal points of the events, especially "Death to Israel;" the involvement of the Iranian embassies in the events in several Islamic states; and the involvement of activists of Iranian origin in events in Britain and perhaps other Western countries).
5. On the other hand, Jerusalem Day events also illustrated the limitations of the Iranian regime's anti-Israeli, anti-American propaganda campaign:
1) The Arab regimes are basically hostile to and suspicious of the Iranian regime's intentions and activities even when Iran tries to exploit the Palestinian cause, which usually inspires broad popular sentiment. The Arab regimes prevent significant cooperation with Iran in promoting its campaigns. As a result, in the Arab world Iran has been forced to rely mainly on the Shi'ites for support and on its Shi'ite proxies, especially in countries like Lebanon and Iraq.
2) Iran's support of the Syrian regime, which has brutally suppressed the country's protest movement, has damaged Iran's image and reduced its popularity in the Arab street, even among Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood (which are well aware that the Iranian regime uses brute force to suppress its own protest movement). Iran's difficulty in enlisting broad popular support for Jerusalem Day in Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority territories (and to a certain degree, Turkey as well) may be an indication of reservations held by those countries.
3) The Iranian regime has not managed to overcome its negative image in the West, even when Iran initiated an event allegedly meant to defend "Palestinian rights." Themes like "Death to Israel" and "Death to the United States" are usually not well received in the West even when they are marketed as "defending the human rights" of the Palestinians. In some Western countries, however, especially in Britain, the Iranians succeeded in joining forces with a number of organizations and activists hostile to Israel, although the number of participants in the events was not greater than in previous years (and perhaps even smaller). Prominent among the participants in Western countries were Muslims (and in some instances activists of Iranian origin and Shi'ite Muslims) who were not of particular interest to the Western media.
6. An initial summary of Jerusalem Day events in various countries follows:
>> To the Full Document in PDF Format Click Here >>
1 Supplement to the August 14, 2011 ITIC bulletin "Jerusalem Day, marked on August 26 this year, is an annual Iranian-sponsored event in support of the Palestinian cause. The Iranian regime expects extensive participation in events in Iran, the Arab-Muslim world and the West (including the United States and Britain). The events are traditionally exploited for anti-Israeli antiWest incitement" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/pdf/PDF1/iran_e127_695530576.pdf.
2 Boycott, divestment, sanctions.
3 Iranian propaganda included the demonstration in its reports on Jerusalem Day, but no mention was made of it at the time in Egypt.