Actually, it was not a rally against the occupation. It was a rally against the existence of Israel, since the organizing groups all support a one state "solution" and, as indicated by hate speech at the rally, and based on independent evidence, the groups are probably anti-Semitic as well as anti-Zionist.
Organizers of this past weekend's "The World Says No to Israeli Occupation" rally in Washington pulled out all the stops.
There was one area, however, in which the rally was lacking: Not many people showed up.
The rally's sponsors, UFPJ and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, placed the number of attendees at "more than 5,000." The U.S. Campaign labeled the rally a "huge success." But pro-Israel activists and bloggers who observed the rally said there were far fewer in attendance, some placing the number at about 1,000. Right-wing blogs ridiculed the gathering, posting photos that suggested a sparse crowd. The Jerusalem Post put the number of attendees at "upwards of 2,000." Mainstream news outlets largely ignored the rally.
"I think they have to be very disappointed," Roz Rothstein, national director of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, said of the organizers of the pro-Palestinian demonstration. StandWithUs organized a small counter-protest.
The U.S. Campaign stated that its rally was called "to protest the 40th anniversary of Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, and Syrian Golan Heights." The group had been planning the event since late last year, according to the U.S. Campaign's office manager, Omar Masri, a rally organizer.
"We expected a large number. We didn't know exactly how much. We were excited to know that 5,000 were there, of course," Masri said. "We were hoping for a bit more, but we didn't have an official estimate."
Masri stood by the 5,000 figure while acknowledging that it was a "rough estimate." He said that the number of attendees was less significant than the fact that "this was the first time in our history that two of the largest coalitions come together demanding an end of Israeli occupation of Palestine."
Speakers at the rally variously denounced American aid to Israel, railed against the "Zionist lobby that took this country to war in Iraq," and accused Israel of practicing "apartheid" and of violating Palestinians' human rights. Another speaker warned of "a plan to create a new American-Israeli century where those who dare to speak out will be squashed."
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