It is reported in Asharq al-Awsat that Copenhagen’s more prominent Jewish notables called for and organized a demonstration on Saturday September 28 against against the policies of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They were careful to say that this demonstration was not against the state of Israel, but against government policies of brutality against Palestinians, which also harmed Jews and Israelis in their view. It was planned for the 2-year anniversary of the beginning of the second Intifada or uprising against Israeli occupation. At the time Asharq al-Awsat went to press, the demonstration had not yet taken place, but hundreds if not thousands of protesters were expected (Denmark’s Jewish community is 6,000 strong).
In London, the same anniversary brought thousands of demonstrators out in the street for “freedom for Palestine” and against an Iraq war (estimates ranged from 100,000 to 300,000, but in these matters it is always wisest to favor the lower figures). Some 100,000 demonstrated in Rome against an Iraq war. UK PM Tony Blair and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi have been the most hawkish European leaders on the issue of Iraq, galvanizing anti-war opponents.
Tens of thousands also marched in Beirut, in a demonstration called for by Hizbullah, the Shiite militia-party that the US has designated a terrorist organization.
These demonstrations are not significant in themselves, but I think they are a harbinger of a great deal of trouble in January or February when the Bush Administration goes to war against Iraq. Especially if there is no clear UN Security Council resolution authorizing the war and no broad coalition, the popular protests could be large and significant. Whether they could cause any governments to fall (in the parliamentary sense) is another question.