[W]hile all the pro-Palestinian organizations from around England had been talking the [anti-Balfour London] rally up and planning it for months, it was hard to ignore the disappointment of many involved that only a few thousand people attended. In corners of Grosvenor Square, opposite the U.S. Embassy, where the march began, there were piles of signs that had been prepared but remained unused.
The organizers boasted afterward that 15,000 had taken part, but it was clear the actual number was much lower, probably no more than a third of that.
Over the last decade and a half, during Israeli operations in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, tens of thousands had assembled for angry rallies in central London. But then, large numbers of young Muslim protesters – inflamed by social media and television footage of the carnage – had swelled their ranks. An event that took place 100 years ago clearly doesn’t excite the same passion.
This time, the majority of protesters were relatively elderly white Britons, members of far-left groups and veteran protesters.
Many of the marchers were also trying to draw attention to a variety of other causes: the condition of social housing in Britain; nuclear disarmament; workers rights; and the global struggle against capitalism. Balfour and Palestine were mentioned only in the back pages of the array of “revolutionary” newspapers on sale. One of the vendors, who complained he had yet to sell a single copy, was flying the Palestinian and Cuban flags together, and seemed much more knowledgeable about Marxist-Leninist communism than the Palestinian cause.
Passions were so low that even when a group of pro-Israel protesters blocked the march for a few minutes on Oxford Street, the marchers were happy to wait while police asked them to move, and only some shouted “Zionist pigs!” before being hushed by others.
But this was a rousing success compared to the rally in Ramallah on Thursday.
It doesn’t appear that more than 100 people attended. and traffic wasn’t even stopped.
A similar rally at the British Consulate in east Jerusalem also gathered only a few dozen protesters:
Even in Gaza, where Islamic Jihad and Hamas can put together a rally with tens of thousands of protesters any time they want, only several hundred showed up at an anti-Balfour protest according to AFP.
In Ankara, Turkey, a rally near the British embassy seems to have gathered no more than fifty people.
The anti-Israel movements – and especially the PLO – prepared for the Balfour centenary for an entire year, but while they managed to place some op-eds here and there, they completely failed in mobilizing anyone who wasn’t already radicalized to really care.
Only die-hard Israel haters bothered to show up.
Any way you look at it, the Balfour centenary has been a huge bust, and more evidence that the Palestinians are more interested in symbolism than an actual state. And the world is slowly catching on to the fact that it isn’t Balfour that has denied Palestinians a state – but Palestinian leaders themselves, from 1937 through 2014.
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