This city is one of the most important and relevant locations to the cause of Quds Day, because the United States has been one of, if not the, biggest financial and moral contributor to the Zionist regime.A few weeks ago, we wrote to encourage all Muslims to participate in the Quds Day protests that were (traditionally) set to occur during the last Friday of Ramadan. Now we would like to continue the documentation of the Washington, DC, area event by sharing the results from this year’s protest.
To begin with, this city is one of the most important and relevant locations to the cause of Quds Day, because the United States has been one of, if not the, biggest financial and moral contributor to the Zionist regime. In Washington, DC, protesters gathered at Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue, surrounded by various embassies. As the noon-sun reached its zenith, small groups of supporters (both Muslim and non-Muslim) approached the Circle wearing their kafayahs and holding their flags or signs. The event began with the group recitation of Surah Fatiha, an introduction from the Holy Qur’an, and a reminder of what Quds Day means. Once more, attendees were reminded that Quds Day was an event to commemorate the sacred city of Jerusalem, the surrounding holy land, its inhabitants, and their right to a dignified life.
With this basic premise, the event began to unfold. It was to be no typical rally, mostly due to the presence of several prominent speakers who had come to express their views and solidarity. The first party to kick-off Quds Day was none other than a small group of orthodox rabbis representing Neturei Karta International. Rabbi Yisoroel Dovid Weiss, standing in front of Palestinian flags and signs that read “Gaza=Auschwitz”, began by establishing that from a Jewish perspective that is rooted in the Torah and tradition, the entire existence of Israel is illegal, and that the Zionist ideology that led to its creation is also the “root cause of every drop of blood in Palestine”. He stated that Jews were commanded by their Lord to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, and that contrary to the Zionist dogma, were forbidden by Allah to come out of their exile and create a state in the first place.
The creation of the State of Israel, he mentioned, is a marker that shows the Zionist attempt to transform Judaism from a spiritual religion to a nationalistic one. This has “slaughtered Jewish spirituality” and has led to the uprooting of the souls of Jews from their Lord. Zionist leaders like Theodor Herzl were able to achieve this because they were willing to “kidnap the Jewish name” and use “the Torah as a deed to the land”. In the meantime, they have gotten away with this behavior by creating a smokescreen and conning people to believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based on religion and not politics. Their tactics against those who stand up to them include “ridicule, attacks, and intimidation”. He urged the audience to resist the Zionist agenda, denounce this massive error in modern history, and pray for peace which can only come from Allah.
After a commemoration of the massacre of Sabra and Shatilla (since the anniversary fell on that particular day), and poetry by spoken word artist Ebrahim Mohseni, the event continued with words from Reverend Graylan Haglar, a senior minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in DC. With a prophetic presence and a history of activism that reaches to fighting the apartheid regime in South Africa, the reverend has some very pragmatic advice for activists. For one thing, a difficult aspect of this struggle is that it is a “protracted one”, but this also means that it “has to be a creative one.” He offered his own experience in fighting the apartheid regime of South Africa in America, recounting the story of some activists that stormed an attorney’s office and occupied it all day, refusing to leave or to allow the firm to conduct its business since it had relations with South Africa. The activists wanted to prove to the corporate world that they “will NOT be able to do ‘business-as-usual’ until you decide to stand for justice and to stand for every soul that is Palestinian.”
This very public, non-violent action brought awareness to their cause and is a perfect example of the creativity that can be employed. This approach is necessary because, despite the deaths that occur on both sides, the playing field between Israelis and Palestinians is not equal. And so, the reverend urged the crowd to “be with those who are oppressed while justice cannot be served. Until we find that our brothers and sisters in Palestine have a safe decent hopeful future, we cannot do otherwise except to stand with them.” One example of this inequality and oppression is the security wall, which the reverend said is, “designed for a land grab – to control the water, the movement of people, and that is apartheid, and there’s no other way to cut it.”
As for the settlements, he said, “We have to continue to resist settlements being placed on Palestinian territory – these settlements are against international law, moral law, and the law of God. Stand up and continue the resistance.” The fact that he was able to draw from previous experiences of fighting – and overcoming – oppression was an excellent source of inspiration and reminder of the importance of spirituality guiding moral actions.
ANSWER activist Eugene Puryear echoed this sentiment of hope in a bleak and discouraging situation, calling for the support of the Palestinian people and their human rights. He was followed by Hajj Mauri Saalakhan, Director of the Peace and Justice Foundation. While he mentioned that genocide is taking place in various locations today, he made a distinction between the case of the Palestinians and other groups. Mainly, “Zionism has an official, in your face,… military and material cover” that most other militaries and regimes do not have, which puts them at a severe advantage. Despite this international leverage, he quoted several American individuals who have come to recognize and speak out against Zionism and its lobbyists in the United States. Among those quoted in his book, The Palestinians Holocaust: American Perspectives are former President Jimmy Carter and student activist Rachel Corrie.
Brother Afeef Khan, who serves on the editorial board for Crescent International, made another interesting observation that seldom receives coverage or consideration. In addition to the corrupt moral foundations of the state, Israel has attracted other social ills that endanger healthy, wholesome, and peaceful existence of people. Today, the country is “the nexus of the worldwide drug trade, the trafficking of women, worldwide insecurity, arms sales, and financial crisis.” These activities, unsupported by any people of faith, have naturally flourished in a state that usurped a Jewish identity for its own material benefit. They are further proof of Rabbi Weiss’s warning that the spirituality of the Jewish people is being slaughtered by Zionism, since no Jew who is loyal to the true teachings of the Torah and the commands of the Creator would be engaging in actions that make the world more harmful and toxic. With this view in mind, the “solution begins with the destruction of the state of Israel,” which would put an end to the negative intentions of the policies of the secular regime.
The overall effect of the speakers was tremendous: religious leaders from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities covered various reasons why Israel is unacceptable as a modern political state and strategies to resist its falsehood and destructive policies in a productive and proactive way. Aside from this outstanding panel of speakers, there was another source of encouragement and inspiration: the crowd itself. Though small, it was filled with young families – many mothers and children were in attendance, as well as the elderly. Only Allah knows the length of the Palestine-Israel conflict, but the seed for peace through justice is firmly planted in our youngest generation.
More pictures from the event are available online.