For Jews in Canada, every day feels like Al-Quds Day

April 10, 2024


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Once upon a time, Jews in Toronto could expect only one public antisemitic hate-fest every year when enemies of Israel would gather downtown to mark the annual Al-Quds Day. How almost strangely quaint that now seems in view of today’s reality.

For Jews in 2024, amid a staggering rise in antisemitism, almost every day is starting to feel like Al-Quds Day, given the increasingly frequent and toxic anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement playing out on the streets and university campuses of Canada’s major cities.

This past weekend in Toronto, hateful rhetoric and placards pervaded this year’s Al-Quds Day rally, which never fails to attract fervently anti-Israel participants. True to form, many displayed their Jew-hatred unabashedly.

Pro-Hamas chants, including boisterous calls of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “There’s only one solution, intifada revolution” left little to the imagination of Jews who understand the genocidal implications of these slogans. They don’t require much interpretation for those familiar with long-standing Palestinian rejectionism of a Jewish state in the Middle East, which has so often taken the form of abominable acts of terrorism in Israel and against Jews abroad.

As disturbing as the Al-Quds Day spectacle was, it probably would have been even worse were it not for a warning from the Toronto Police Service (TPS) the day before. Many in the crowd and among the speakers were surely mindful of their behaviour after TPS Deputy Chief Lauren Pogue made clear that police would closely monitor the proceedings and that anyone engaging in unlawful conduct including hate speech, would face legal consequences.

The Al-Quds Day rally in Toronto, reportedly one of the largest in North America, brought together a dubious mix of players — including far-left anti-capitalists, anti-police activists and even a special appearance by the Revolutionary Communists — many who see themselves as progressives. This despite the event having been conceived by and aligned with one of the most oppressive countries in the world.

First held in Iran in 1979, months after Islamic revolutionaries took over the country, Al-Quds Day is now marked throughout the Muslim world and elsewhere. It’s all part of a sinister global phenomenon, promoted by the dictatorial regime in Iran that has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and whose hegemonic agenda endangers the Middle East and far beyond.

Not surprisingly, the Iranian state-owned news network, Press TV, a constant source of anti-Israel propaganda, featured a report on the Al-Quds Day rally in Toronto. Figuring prominently was Charlotte Kates speaking at the event. She’s a Vancouver-based leader of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and the wife of Khaled Barakat, an open supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Notorious for its involvement in terrorist attacks against Israel dating back decades, the PFLP is listed by Canada and other western countries as a terrorist organization. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has repeatedly called on the Canadian government to also list Samidoun as a terrorist entity.

The Al-Quds Day rally followed another local hateful anti-Israel rally days earlier, which prompted the Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno to write a column last week about hate speech at local anti-Israel rallies.

“It should come as no surprise that these demonstrations — some 400 protests since Oct. 7 — have grown increasingly turbulent and brazenly targeted at Jewish businesses, neighbourhoods, schools and synagogues … The hotheads can whine all they want, yell ‘DEFUND POLICE,’ and assume the role of victims. They’re no such thing. A good number — not all — are provocateurs and rabble-rousers who’ve glommed onto events on the other side of the planet to promote their agenda here by harassing and threatening our Jewish neighbours.”

Too much of what we’re seeing and hearing on the streets of our city since Oct. 7 should have no place in Canada, regardless of who’s being targeted. Ugly and dangerous, if left unaddressed, it could lead to something far more ominous. It’s long past time for our leaders to say enough is enough.

Read in Toronto Star