Dozens of people gathered in Washington's DuPont Circle Friday morning for the "Annual Al-Quds Day Rally for Justice in Palestine and the Oppressed Everywhere."
The Quds Day rally in Washington has become a gathering of the fringe of the fringe of rabidly anti-Israel demonstrators. Speakers included Medea Benjamin of Code Pink and two people who have espoused radical conspiracy theories at the Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) annual conferences.
As Palestinian and Israeli leaders meet in peace negotiations just a few miles away, the speakers called for a rejectionist line on Israel.
"The time has come that we must stir up our 'religious leaders' in this country to speak the truth about Israel," said Kaukab Siddiqi. "They must put their hands on the Quran and say that they do not recognize Israel as a legitimate entity. If they cannot do that, they must be branded as kaffirs [infidels]. It's as simple as that. Because the Quran says – drive them out from where they drove you out."
As was the case at last year's demonstration, speakers spewed hate speech to a crowd dotted with Hizballah flags. Among the speakers was retired ambassador Edward Peck, and Mauri Saalakhan,
Salaakhan peddled copies of his book, The Palestinians' Holocaust, at the 2009 ISNA convention. It's a collection of essays including his claim that Israel was responsible for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and includes a defense of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
At the 2010 ISNA conference held in July, Peck described his experience on board the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship that was the site of a violent clash with Israeli commandos as it tried to break the blockade on Gaza in May. He also cast Israel as holding power over American policy in the region, saying the U.S. would open communications with Hamas "when Israel gives us permission."
Other speakers went far further. Abolfazl Nahidian, identified as imam of a mosque in Manassas, Va., cast the 9/11 attacks as a Zionist plot:
"September 11 is not done by Muslims. It is done by the plot of the Zionists in order to justify to occupy the land of the Muslims such as Afghanistan, such as Iraq, such as Pakistan, now moving on to the rest of the areas. They plot and they scheme and no doubt God is plotting and scheming against them too."
Last year, Nahidian wrote to President Obama, citing a Quranic verse that says "Do not take Jews and Christians as your authority," and asking the President not to "interfere with the affairs regarding Islamic issues based on our Holy Quran" including the disputed Iranian election results.
Siddiqi, introduced as a community activist, also included a threatening message for Jews:
"For the Christians I say please pray for Gaza. For the Jews I would say see what could happen to you if the Muslims wake up. And I say to the Muslims, dear brothers and sisters, unite and rise up against this hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism. Each one of us is their target and we must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel if possible by peaceful means. Perhaps, like Saladin, we will give them enough food and water to travel back to the lands from where they came to occupy other people. There's no question of just removing the settlements. These settlements are only the tentacles of the devil who resides in Tel Aviv."