(July 5, 2020 / TheJ.ca) Following Vancouver’s small turnout for the first in a series of “Day of Rage” protests, Toronto and other Canadian cities took their turn bashing the Jewish homeland under the guise of “No to Annexation” demonstrations.
On June 28, Montreal held a large protest in which 300 anti-Israel activists called for the defunding of Israel by the Trudeau government. This protest was followed by similar calls for the Trudeau government to oppose Netanyahu’s plan to declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley.
From Mississauga to St. John’s, and Halifax to Hamilton, anti-Israel outrage in Canada is at an all-time high, augmented by allegiances with other progressive left and social-justice movements. This was evident in Toronto, where multiple demonstrations were planned.
On July 1 in Toronto, 150 protesters chanted “Viva, Viva Intifada! Viva, Viva Palestina!” calling for the destruction of Israel.
On July 4, a speaker from the Toronto Prisoners Rights Project told a gathering of more than300 that Gaza was “the largest open-air prison in the world” and that the abolition movement is being inspired by Palestinian resistance. Another speaker, from Maysam Campuses for Palestine, linked the oppression of Palestinians with black, indigenous and Tamil people.
While Timaji Gerad, a poet and community activist, fired up the anti-Israel crowd that took over the Yonge and Bloor intersection in the city, near the Israeli consulate, Moe Alqasem, a member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University, told the gathering that “as Israel entrenches its apartheid over Palestine, all Palestinians and their allies must be united in the call to boycotts, divestments and sanctions.”
Black allies of the pro-Palestinian camp spoke of how “the black and Palestinian struggles for freedom stand together against structural racism.” During the event, the crowd chanted “Free Free Palestine,” “End the Occupation” and “Viva Viva Intifada, Viva Viva Palestina!”
The Toronto event was organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) which advertised the event on Facebook: “WE ARE OUTRAGED AT ZIONIST COLONIAL EXPANSION AND VIOLENCE. WE HAVE NO TRUST IN THE SETTLER-COLONIAL STATES OF CANADA AND THE U.S. TO BE THE ‘HONEST BROKERS’ OF PEACE. WE MUST TAKE LEADERSHIP IN OUR NATIONAL LIBERATION. WE WILL RETURN.”
Across North America, marches and caravans were held in the past week, ranging from 1,000 in New York City, a raucous crowd chanting pro-Hamas rhetoric in Boston, to a small turnout in Chicago. In Seattle, the small protest was held concurrent with a Black Lives Matter march. The caravan in San Diego specifically targeted buildings housing organizations such as Hillel, Friends of the IDF, Birthright and Hadassah. There was a reported altercation in Houston on June 30.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles on July 4, the loud protest outside the Israeli consulate, which included a sign reading, “Israeli manslaughter are the Holocaust,” was met by a counter-protest from Yad Yamin and members of the student activist Club Z, holding signs decrying slavery in the Arab world and “Never Again Means Never Again.”
The U.S. rallies are organized by Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, a charity that supports BDS, equates Judaism with Nazism and calls for the abolition of the Jewish state.
“Al-Awda and other hate groups that organized these rallies are dedicated to ending Israel’s existence and promoting anti-Semitic propaganda,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of non-profit pro-Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs. “While there is nothing wrong with having an open and vigorous debate about Israeli policies, that is not what these events are really about. We are answering hate with a message highlighting the urgent need for Palestinian leaders to choose peace negotiations over hatred and violence.”
In six U.S. cities, StandWithUs worked with the Iranian American Jewish Federation to counter the pro-Palestinian vitriol at street level.
However, there was no organized effort by Jewish institutions in Canada to present any kind of response to the demonization of Israel and Zionists. TheJ.ca was unable to locate a single statement to the media made by Jewish leadership to address the fears of the Jews of Toronto, already the most anti-Semitic city in Canada, that the protests were fanning the flames. Not even the most basic line in the sand, that blaming Jews outside of Israel for what the Netanyahu government does constitutes an anti-Semitic attack.
Increasingly the narrative at the protests focused not only on the question of the legal status of Israel applying its law to the disputed areas, but to linking Israel to police practices that led to the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and more generally the support of democratic nations for the Jewish state to have secure borders.
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