The Iranian regime is behind a global, anti-Israel protest movement that has attracted endorsements from former government officials and allies of President Barack Obama—including his longtime pastor and mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Billed as a purely peaceful protest movement, the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) is an amalgam of anti-Israel activists from across the world. On March 30, the group plans to storm Israel’s borders, likely provoking a bloody conflict.
The Global March adheres to a radical left-wing ideology that denies Jewish historical connections to Jerusalem. Organizers have vowed to "end the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land, and sanctity of Jerusalem."
At the center of the movement lies Iran, which has provided moral and logistical support to various anti-Israel proxy groups participating in the march, according to an Israeli intelligence group and other experts.
Iran’s ultimate goal, they say, is to foment global disdain for Israel, thus diverting attention away from its disputed nuclear program.
"Iran, both directly and through its proxies, supports the marches and possibly additional propaganda events planned for March 30," the Israel-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) recently concluded in a study. "Iran has a number of objectives," which include strengthening "its regional influence by exploiting the sensitivity of the Arab-Muslim world to the issue of Jerusalem."
The Iranian regime, which is being hit by economic sanctions for its illegal enrichment of uranium, hopes to "draw international attention away from itself, and to broaden and deepen the delegitimization campaign being waged against Israel," according to the study.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, vocally supported the march in late February. Several of his allies are working as liaisons to the movement.
Internet researchers also have discovered that "three domains of [the] march organizers [are] sharing an IP address with Ahl al-Bayt," an Iranian propaganda outlet that regularly broadcasts Khamenei’s hardline ideology, according to the ITIC.
"The whole project is a very good distraction for lots of people," said Hadar Sela, a Middle East researcher and writer who has been investigating the players behind the protest. "They’d like nothing more then to get people shot on Israel’s borders. That would be a great distraction."
Though organizers maintain that they favor nonviolent resistance, critics suggest the march is nothing more than a provocation meant to irritate Israeli security forces. That is what happened with 2010’s Gaza flotilla campaign.
"Obviously Israel, like any other sovereign country, can’t permit mass infiltration of its borders, especially by terrorists and other enemies committed to its destruction," Adam Levick, a researcher for CiF Watch, a website that combats anti-Semitism, recently wrote in an article for the Jewish Press.
Protestors plan to launch their offensive from the Arab countries surrounding Israel: Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. From there, they plan to infiltrate Israel’s borders, which, for security reasons, are heavily patrolled by armed forces.
"The aim of the marchers is not to promote nonviolence, but to instigate violence," added Ben Cohen, an opinion writer for a Jewish wire service. "They want to put Israel’s defenders in the position of having to open fire, so that images of ‘Zionist brutality’ can then be broadcast around the world."
Despite its ties to some of the world’s most radical anti-Israel players—including Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Syrian terror group Hezbollah, among many others—the GMJ has gone to great lengths to portray itself as a mainstream political movement.
However, one of the movement’s Canadian surrogates, Independent Jewish Voices, was recently caught trying to whitewash its radical image in advance of the march, according to a private email obtained by the Free Beacon.
"We are trying to establish our point of view as reasonable and mainstream," Sid Shniad, an IJV spokesperson, wrote in an email that was mistakenly sent to CiF Watch, which hosts an anti-GMJ site that closely resembles the movement’s official online portal.
"Characterizing us as ‘radical’ only makes it easier for the dominant Zionist organizations to characterize us as a fringe group," Shniad added. "We want to establish our radicalism through our actions, not how we are labeled."
The protest movement has also been bolstered by several high profile endorsements from world leaders and Nobel laureates, including anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu, radical professors Noam Chomsky and Cornell West, Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who served for nearly 20 years as President Obama’s spiritual leader.
Other prominent backers of the movement are longtime supporters of President Obama.
United Nations official Richard Falk, for instance, donated to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. So did Stanford University Professor Claybrone Carson and Marcy Winograd, a member of California’s Green Party.
"It’s actually quite frightening in a way, the legitimacy being given to terror," said Sela. "Some of the people organizing this are the worst human rights abusers around—and the Westerners are collaborating."
The GMJ’s principal backer in the U.S. is the International Solidarity Movement, an anti-Israel outfit that aims to "strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance."
The GMJ’s North American arm is soliciting donations for the event on its website. While GMJ-NA is not a tax-exempt organization, it is directing supporters to donate via the Free Palestine Movement, which will then forward the money back to the march’s organizers.
The White House did not respond to a request seeking comment about Wright’s participation in the march.