Al-Quds Day, celebrated around the world by millions, is marked on the last Friday of Ramadan, coinciding with the most sacred time of Ramadan, the Night of Destiny. This year it is on July 11. This night especially empowers Muslims with God's mercy, as the starting point of Muslims' awakening and awareness in all aspects of life. Al -Quds Day was initiated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and oppose Zionism and Israeli occupation, especially of Jerusalem.
Its importance is starkly demonstrated by the ongoing US-Israeli schemes to make Jerusalem (al-Quds, holy city) the sole property of Israel, destroy the Muslim sacred Dome of the Rock, and by widespread aggression against all things Muslim, not only in Palestine, but from Libya to Afghanistan. Ayatollah Khomeini understood the connection between the struggle to liberate Palestine and the struggle for social justice around the world, in the firs place among Muslims. "All must know that the superpowers' aim in creating Israel does not end in the occupation of Palestine. They plan, Heaven forbid, extending the fate of Palestine to all Arab countries."
In Iran, the government sponsors and organizes the day's rallies. Al-Quds Day is also held throughout the Arab and Muslim world, Europe and North America. The popularity of al-Quds Day shows how all people who support the liberation of Palestine appreciate and approve of Iran's staunch support, the only country truly committed to helping Palestine.
The UN and other international bodies firmly state that Jerusalem is not the property of either the Israelis or Palestinians, that its status must be established through negotiations making it open to both sides and even the world, by declaring it an international city. The original UN plan in 1947 proposed "an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State,and the City of Jerusalem". Israel ignored this and instead, upon declaring itself independent in 1948 declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz [greater] Israel, to be known as the State of Israel". That anniversary is a day of mourning for Palestinians—Nakba Day, meaning catastrophe.
After the war with Arab states that followed in 1948, thousands of Palestinians were murdered and hundreds of thousands of refugees were forced to flee their homes. The UN issued resolution 194 claiming authority over Jerusalem, and resolved in paragraph 11, "that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date".
This resolution, accepted immediately by Israel (though it had no intention of fulfilling it), is still the major legal foundation of the Palestinian right of return claim, a major point in peace negotiations. Resolution 194 also called for the creation of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine. So the mechanism for resolving the dispute has been there ever since, and al-Quds Day is a major plank in supporting this relatively just resolution of the conflict, if only Israel can be brought to its senses.
The UN has been hot and cold since then. In 1973, a General Assembly resolution about Apartheid "condemns in particular the unholy alliance between Portuguese colonialism, Apartheid and Zionism." General Assembly Resolution 3379 determined that "Zionism is a form of racism" in 1975, but this was revoked in 1991 under threats by the US. Attempts over the years to expel Israel from the UN for its continued violations of UN resolutions have always been stymied by western powers led by the US.
In 2012, the UN upgraded Palestine to "non-member observer state" status, described by The Independent as "de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine". As of October 2014, 135 (70%) of the 193 member states of the UN have recognized the State of Palestine as sovereign over both West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
There is no doubt that the success of al-Quds Day in keeping the pressure on Israel to abide by its commitments is vital here. Only the US and the states of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, all of which are associated states of the US, have consistently supported Israel at the UN. Recently Australia, under the leadership of John Howard, and Canada, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, have also supported Israel at the UN.
Ayatollah Khomeini stated, "The issue of al-Quds is not a private or personal issue. It is neither the exclusive problem of one country nor a present-day problem of all Muslims. Rather, it is a phenomenon concerning the monotheists and faithful people of all ages – past, present and future."
The attempts by western leaders, in the grip of Zionism and determined to undermine Iran's popularity among those who oppose Israeli occupation of Palestine, is demonstrated year after year. Living in Canada, I watch how the Zionist organizations, B'nai Brith and the Jewish Defense League, spread their hate speech in the mainstream media, where short shrift is given to the Palestinian cause. Nonetheless, support for the Palestinian cause is strong in Toronto and despite government refusal to issue a permit to organizers (the PanAm Games take precedence), the demonstration will proceed.
Last year 5,000 demonstrated, faced by threats from 1,000 Zionists, necessitating a heavy police presence. No other cause unites Canadians around international justice like the cause of the Palestinians. Organizer Seyed Rizvi said 70 organizations took part, including the Jewish Neturei Karta and Independent Jewish Voices. “Our supporters are people who feel bad when they see the pictures and images of what is going on in Palestine. We believe the Zionists are not representative of the Jewish religion. We have seven rabbis here in support of us.”
Al-Quds – an international city
The US Supreme Court recently upheld the longstanding US policy of not allowing American Jews who give birth in Jerusalem to declare their children citizens of Jerusalem, which implicitly would condone Israeli claims to possess Jerusalem. President George W. Bush signed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 2002, which violated this US policy, putting Congress on record as considering Jerusalem the capital of Israel. But Bush announced that he would not abide by the passport provision; and indeed, neither his administration nor that of Barack Obama has dared to follow the birthplace requirement. Both have argued that only the president can recognize, even implicitly, that Jerusalem is part of Israel.
The Supreme Court 5-4 decision denied the parents of Menachem Zivotofsky, an American born in Jerusalem in 2002 to put “Israel” on his passport, as “[r]ecognition [of foreign governments] is a topic on which the Nation must ‘speak with one voice.’” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “[t]hat voice must be the President’s.” A similar attempt to sneak Israeli wishes on the Canadian government in the past cause Conservative Prime Minister Joe Clark to withdraw his hasty call in 1979 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, showing how naive many western politicians are and how perfidious their Zionist advisers are. The most pro-Israeli Canadian politician in history is the current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and even he doesn't dare make such a foolish move.
The momentum to support al-Quds Day around the world continues to grow. Both Nigeria and South Africa hosted demonstrations with 5,000 demonstrators last year. In Nigeria the 2014 al-Quds day procession took place in 24 major cities, mostly in the north of the country. The procession, organized by the Nigerian Islamic Movement,were conducted peacefully except in Zaria, home of NIM Ibrahim Zakzaky, where the Nigerian Army reportedly opened fire on the participants and killed 35 people.
The unprecedented events in the past year in Syria and Iraq, where the militant ISIS have declared a self-styled caliphate, have distracted people from the Palestinian struggle, though ISIS claims it wants to expel the Zionists and restore Muslim sovereignty to al-Quds. How credible is ISIS, can its claims of leadership of the Sunni world be taken seriously? It is openly calling for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy as un-Islamic, yet is sectarian, kills hundreds of Shia and other 'undesirables', dismissing Hamas and Hizbullah as kufar, and agents of Iran. This wild rhetoric is sad, as Iran is the best supporter of the struggle against Zionism.
From Books of Interest
Connect with Eric Walberg
Eric's From Postmodernism to Postsecularism is available here
Eric's Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics
and the Great Games is available here
Eric's Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics
and the Great Games is available here
Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.
He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.