Canadian Jewish groups and Canadian parliament members criticized incitement to violence and support for the recent terrorism wave in Israel in statements made at a Toronto BDS rally on Sunday.
“We are deeply concerned, disgusted and infuriated by the incitement to violence made at an anti-Israel rally in Toronto where protesters called for ‘Intifada’ — violent uprising," according to Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) national board of directors chairwoman Gail Adelson-Marcovitz.
Event organizers were seen wearing shirts that said "Intifada," and the crowd was led in chants saying, "There is only one solution, intifada, revolution" and "Long live the Intifada – Intifada, Intifada."
During the march to the Israeli consulate, organizers notified the crowd that rockets had been fired from Lebanon into Israel, which was met with calls of "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great!).
Anti-Israel protest right now in downtown Toronto. Speaker: As we march right now Lebanon has hit Israel with 2 rockets!Crowd cheers wildly.Speaker: Allahu Akbar!Crowd: Allahu Akbar! pic.twitter.com/ugwE1UIlgu— Jaime Kirzner-Roberts (@jaimekr) April 24, 2022
"To cheer for rocket attacks on a civilian population in Israel is appalling," wrote MP Anthony Housefather.
"In Toronto, Palestinians cheer for rocket attacks on Israeli civilians," tweeted MP Melissa Lantsman. "This is not a protest. This is full-on antisemitism in our streets."
In a speech by Canadian Defenders For Human Rights (CD4HR) co-director Aliya Hasan, she said that "Israel has witnessed the deadliest attacks that it has seen in the last 15 years, all because the Palestinian freedom fighters have been putting their lives to fight for freedom." This too was met with cheers by the crowd, and calls of "takbir!"
Toronto this afternoon.Speaker: Israel has witnessed the deadliest attacks we have seen in the last 15 years, all because of Palestinian freedom fighters who are putting their lives on the line.Crowd cheers wildly. Chants “Allahu Akbar!” pic.twitter.com/9PL2qup0ky— Jaime Kirzner-Roberts (@jaimekr) April 25, 2022
“It’s extremely disturbing to see a hate rally in Toronto, especially one marked by incitement to violence,” said Michael Levitt, President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC).
“There should be no place in our country for the promotion of hate and the glorification of violence toward Jews or any other people," he said. "Such vile rhetoric has dire consequences for both Israelis and for Jews in Canada. Cheering on terror attacks and the murder of civilians is deplorable and must be unequivocally condemned by leaders at all levels."
HASAN CALLED for the destruction of the State of Israel during her speech and that she didn't care what happened to Israelis after Israel was dissolved, saying they were from Europe, the USA and Canada, and should return there. She also said that the Judaic connection to the Temple Mount was ahistorical Zionist propaganda to justify atrocities against Palestinians and to steal al-Aqsa Mosque.
"Jews remain the number one target of hate crimes in Toronto according to police, which only makes the messaging at yesterday’s rally all the more reprehensible," said Levitt. "We’ve seen how public calls for violence against the Jewish community can result in actual attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions."
Housefather also warned that such rhetoric could lead to violence in Canada, tweeting that, "Last spring anti-Israel sentiment in Canada led to the worst upsurge in antisemitism I have seen in this country in my lifetime. Everyone must denounce this type of incitement."
Notably, Hasan used the slogan "by any means necessary," which was also widely used in a New York City rally last week in which a Jewish man wearing an Israeli flag as a cape was assaulted. The slogan has been criticized by many as a dog-whistle for terrorism.
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"This hate rally is particularly troubling given that later this week, Jewish communities around the world will pause to mark Yom HaShoah [Holocaust Memorial Day]," said Adelson-Marcovitz. "Our security team is in close contact with law enforcement and are working with our Federation partners coast to coast to ensure the safety and security of our community.”
The rally was organized by the GTA Palestine Movement, which was founded by Moe Jaberi, who also spoke at the event, which was live-streamed by Hasan and Days of Palestine. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Buycott Palestine, and United Bathurst Church shared advertisements for the rally, and Eye on Palestine also appeared to have participated.
"We are equally alarmed by the apparent involvement of terror-tied organizations, like Samidoun," Adelson-Marcovitz noted.
Lantsman called on the government to make a statement regarding the incident.
CIJA appealed to Toronto police regarding the incitement, and FSWC said that they were working with the police to secure the local Jewish community.
"There is absolutely no justification for calls for violence in Toronto, or anywhere in Canada, no matter the cause,” said Adelson-Marcovitz.