Let’s have a little fun today. Here are the simple facts:
Yesterday there was a march in Jerusalem supporting Palestinian independence organized by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement. The march started at the Jaffa Gate in the Old City and ended at the site of the weekly protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The march is the lead story this morning on many news sites based in Israel.
The questions are:
How many people were in the march? Who was in the march?
See if you can figure out the answers based on news reports of the event:
Jerusalem Post : “Thousands of left-wing activists marched in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon . . . Under the banner of “Independence for Palestine,” the march, which was organized by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, drew 4,500 participants from across the country . . . Arab youth groups from Lod, Jaffa, and Nazareth also took part, in addition to all of the popular committees from the east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Palestine News Network: “Earlier today, 3000 Palestinian supporters marched from Jaffa Gate through East Jerusalem to Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in support of an independent Palestinian state. Healthy numbers of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals all participated; this global nature added a cosmopolitan feel to the march . . .”
Haaretz: “Approximately 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis took part in the “March for Independence” Friday, calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state.”
UPI: “Jewish and Arab protesters marched in Jerusalem Friday to support U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, which Israel is trying to avert. Police watched the 1,500 demonstrators . . .”
Ma’an Palestinian News Agency: Several thousand Israelis and Palestinians gathered in occupied east Jerusalem on Friday for a protest march to support the Palestinian Authority’s bid for United Nations recognition. Thousands of demonstrators attended the march — most of them Israeli peace activists . . Organizers put the numbers at 5,000, public radio said only 2,000 took part and police said there were not even 500.
So what are your answers: how many people actually marched? 5000, 4500, 3000, 2000, 1500, less than 500? What numbers do you believe?
(Personally, I find it interesting that the most comprehensive possible numbers were given by Ma’an.)
And who marched? [Left-wing activists, Arab youth groups from Lod, Jaffa, and Nazareth and all of the popular committees from the east Jerusalem neighborhoods], [Palestinians, Israelis, and Internationals], [Palestinians and Israelis], [Jewish and Arab protestors], [Israelis and Palestinians, most of them Israeli peace activists]. Whom do you think was there?
As to how many people participated, who knows? I wasn’t there, but based on experience I think we can reasonably disregard the organizer’s claims and lean toward the police estimate. As to who participated? I suspect the answer is ‘all of the above.’
My point: a relatively small number of people can make a big noise with the help of news agencies desperate for a story.
Addendum: UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization issued a statement yesterday ‘confirming’ that ‘East’ Jerusalem is ‘occupied’: “In line with overall UN policy, East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory.” UNESCO felt compelled to make this bogus statement because, quite remarkably, the organization’s website listed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.