Activists get violent during Reservists on Duty event at York University

Reservists on Duty CEO Amit Deri: It’s time to wake up and realize that this violence will spread

York University Canada 370 (photo credit:  REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
York University Canada 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
“Intifada, Intifada, go back to the ovens,” was what several protesters told Jewish and pro-Israel students on Wednesday night during a pro-Palestinian demonstration against a Reservist’s on Duty event at York University.
“In the five years that we have been doing this, this was the biggest protests we’ve seen on a college campus,” Amit Deri, founder and CEO of Reservists on Duty, told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s also the first time that we’ve seen a BDS and Antifa collaboration”
This comes as 600 protesters violently tried to storm and disrupt the event being held on campus.
He said that in the two weeks leading up the event, hundreds of BDS posters were plastered around the campus in a bid to stop it from happening.
“There were 20 or 30 police officers that came and arrests were made,” he said.
Some of the Jewish students were escorted off campus by police for their protection.
Deri warned that this sort of behavior will spread to other campuses but said he was undeterred by threats. “We will continue to speak. We will never be afraid to do so.”
Calgary, Alberta-born Shar Leyb, one of the Reservists on Duty speakers at the event, said he and his fellow IDF soldiers knew there would be a big protest.
“There were hundreds of posters that read ‘stop the IDF killers on campus,’ and ‘we do not let Zionists on York University campus,’” he said.
“I have never felt so much hate in my life. Personally I wasn’t intimidated but I can only imagine how intimidated Jews on campus who are not familiar with this felt,” he said. “But we stood up to them. We didn’t let them bother our event.”
Leyb said the protesters tried to interrupt as he was speaking. “We are all about dialogue. That’s what Reservists on Duty is all about. We are always open to talking to people and they are usually not. Anytime we want to speak to people, the BDS organization comes and tries to shut them down and tells them not to engage with us. How are we supposed to find common ground if the other side doesn’t want to speak?,” he asked.
Sariel Shamshian said that when she saw all the protesters, “it made me feel insecure. It made me feel sorry for all the Jewish people in Canada that have to live with this every day,” she added.
Yael Schwarzman said she was deeply disappointed by what happened.
“We came to speak and have an open dialogue. We came to find ways to move forward and we were met with shouts, chants and violence,” she said.
Several videos of the event surfaced on Thursday showing the punches and violent incitement by Pro-Palestinian students at the event.
In one video, pro-Israel students sang Am Yisrael Chai (The Jewish People Live) as pro-Palestinian students attacked them.
The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto said in a Twitter statement: “We stand with our partner @HillelOntario in condemning this shameful protest that took place at York University.
“UJA is proud to support Hillel and Jewish students - and tonight’s outrageous incident reaffirms why this work is so important,” it said.
The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs echoed these sentiments, adding that “We unequivocally condemn this shameful protest.”
B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn commended the Toronto Police Service and York University “for ensuring that this event could be safely held.
“Enraged mobs cannot be allowed to prevent lawful and peaceful gatherings from taking place on campus,” he said. “Further investigation is required into how a registered student group was permitted to glorify terrorism and attempt to intimidate those peacefully assembling on campus. “There must be consequences for violent behavior,” he added.
A mistake in editing accidentally attributed the chant “Intifada, Intifada, go back to the ovens” to all of the protestors at the event. This was not the case. The comment was made by a handful of protestors to some of the organizers.