Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ramallah demonstration was a bust

There were plenty of news reports about the demonstration in Ramallah yesterday, all trying to make it look as large as possible:

But how many people actually were there?

From The World Bulletin:

Thousands of flag-waving Palestinians rallied Wednesday in towns across the occupied West Bank to show support for their president's bid to win U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. The gatherings were carefully orchestrated, with civil servants and schoolchildren given time off to participate, and the mood seemed largely subdued. Still, a new poll indicated an overwhelming majority of Palestinians support President Mahmoud Abbas' quest for U.N. recognition of a state in the occupied West Bank, besiged Gaza and east Jerusalem.

In the city of Ramallah, the seat of Abbas' government, crowds of youths hoisted Palestinian flags in a downtown square and chanted slogans calling for the establishment of an independent Palestine. Others used the time to mingle and do some window shopping in the newly refurbished town center with tree-lined pedestrian areas.

A large mockup of a blue chair, symbolising a seat at the U.N., and giant Palestinian flags hanging from buildings provided a backdrop for the Ramallah rally, where attendence peaked at several thousand.
AFP says "at least 15,000" were at the demonstration. Considering that schools were out, the government closed, free transportation was provided and the rally included free concerts from popular bands, this is a small rally.

 However, what is not as well reported was the possibly larger demonstration in Nablus - which took a distinctly anti-semitic turn:
Tens of thousands of Palestinians turned out in the northern West Bank city of Nablus in support of Abbas. Joined by a small ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that opposes Israeli state, activists prayed at the nearby Joseph's tomb and raised a Palestinian flag.
Specifically going to a Jewish holy site is not a political move.

(There were also demonstrations in Hebron and Bethlehem.)