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For the third weekend in a row, virtually all of Canada’s major cities saw massive rallies ostensibly to advocate for “peace” in Gaza and an “end to the violence.”
“Toronto demonstrators rally to support Palestinians,” was how the CBC characterized a Saturday rally in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square dubbed by organizers as a “Roar for Gazans and Palestine.”
But even the most cursory look at the organizers and speakers of these rallies show them to be awash in extremist and pro-terror rhetoric.
Without apparent exception, every major “pro-Palestinian” event held in Canada in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks has called for Israel’s eradication and demanded conditions that would leave Gaza’s Hamas leadership in place. In many cases, they have explicitly praised the Oct. 7 attacks as an act of “resistance.”
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At a Saturday rally on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a speaker praised the “amazing, brilliant offensive waged on Oct. 7.”
The speaker was Natalie Knight, an “Indigenous Curriculum Consultant” at Langara College, and a perennial feature at Lower Mainland protests and blockades. Her explicit praise of the Oct. 7 massacres — which saw Hamas fighters kill as many civilians as possible before they were forced back by an Israeli counterattack — was answered with cheers from the crowd.
Behind her was a large banner reading, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Unlike the more ambiguous slogan “free Palestine,” the “from the river …” motto is explicitly meant to refer to the complete eradication of Israel as a state. The slogan has been a mainstay of every one of Canada’s major “pro-Palestine” rallies held since Oct. 7.
Knight was speaking at an All Out for Palestine rally. Although advertised as a rally to “stop bombing Gaza,” it was sponsored by a who’s who of Vancouver groups with a lengthy history of calling for Israel’s destruction and praising terrorist attacks against the Jewish state.
Chief among them were the Palestinian Youth Movement and Samidoun — the latter of which was just banned in Germany due to what Berlin framed as the group’s explicit support of antisemitic terror.
These same groups also organized an Oct. 9 rally at the exact same spot that echoed much of the same themes as the Oct. 28 All Out for Palestine Rally. At the time, the Israeli counterattack on Gaza hadn’t really begun in earnest, and demonstrators were already calling for a “ceasefire” and an end to the alleged “genocide” in Gaza.
“How beautiful is the spirit to get free that Palestinians literally learned how to fly on hang gliders,” said Harsha Walia, a former executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, speaking at the Oct. 9 event. The “hang gliders” being a reference to the paragliders that Hamas gunmen used to swoop in on a Southern Israel music festival, where they massacred at least 260 people.
The Saturday “roar for Gaza” rally in Toronto was — like most of the city’s pro-Palestinian rallies — organized by a group calling itself Toronto4Palestine.
While CBC quoted a demonstrator at the event who said he was “gutted by the attacks on Israeli civilians,” Toronto4Palestine has struck a very different tone on its Instagram page.
The attacks were still ongoing on Oct. 7 when the group organized an impromptu public rally to “honour and celebrate the Palestinian resistance.” Its page also includes images of the Israeli flag being set afire.
Toronto4Palestine’s Saturday rally was deemed by the group to be a “strategic action” that would continue until their “five demands” were met.
These include “an immediate ceasefire,” forcing Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, and “ultimately putting an end to the occupation.” Given the group’s consistent characterization of Israel as nothing more than a “Zionist occupation,” this last demand seems to call for the end of Israeli statehood altogether.
“Palestinians in Gaza, Palestine and Worldwide are resisting and we will take our land back … GLORY TO THE MARTYRS,” reads a post on the Toronto4Palestine Instagram page connected to the Oct. 28 rally. “We will come back bigger and stronger, until Palestine is free and ours,” added one organizer.
One observer at the weekend rally uploaded a video showing a pair of Hamas flags being waved just outside the entrance to the TTC’s Queen’s Park subway station in Toronto.
Toronto4Palestine was also behind an attempted boycott last week of Café Landwer, a Toronto restaurant whose only material connection to the Israeli-Gaza conflict is that it’s Jewish-owned and has locations in Israel.
After the group posted a video of masked demonstrators seemingly attempting to intimidate diners, they were the subject of condemnation by Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow. “People in Toronto should be able to carry out their business, enjoying what our city has to offer without fear or concern,” she wrote.
Among the largest weekend protests was one that began on Parliament Hill before marching through downtown Ottawa. Although headlines mostly framed it as an attempt to pressure the Canadian government to call for a “ceasefire,” the march’s rallying cry — broadcast across social media by participants — was “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
One protester, Rami Obead, told CTV that he was “against” the Oct. 7 massacres, before adding that Israel “started it” with its founding in 1948.
IN OTHER NEWS
Global Affairs Canada has not been covering itself in glory in the three weeks following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. This region of the world is, of course, the site of Canada’s most endlessly cited diplomatic triumph; then-foreign affairs minister Lester Pearson’s 1956 efforts to end the Suez Crisis. But Pearson’s modern equivalent, Melanie Joly, has mostly stood at the sidelines these last three weeks, issuing confused and somewhat vague statements on the conflict. There was that time she briefly appeared to condemn Israel for an “attack” on a Gaza City hospital that turned out to be a misfired rocket from a Hamas ally. Last week, she called for “de-escalation” while defence minister Bill Blair issued a contradictory statement saying that Hamas “has to be eliminated.” And then this week, she proposed humanitarian “pauses” to the Israeli offensive on Gaza – but didn’t make it incumbent on Hamas releasing its estimated 200 hostages, including two suspected Canadians.
A week ago, this newsletter covered how the Trudeau government has poured millions of dollars into completely remaking the federal government through what it called an “anti-racism lens.” The stated premise of the effort was that Canada was so irreparably shot through with systemic racism and “white supremacy” that the only solution was a latticework of new laws and regulations prescribing special treatment for whoever the government deemed to be a “marginalized” demographic. So a group called The Aristotle Foundation decided to crunch Canada’s economic numbers and see how much these “white supremacy” claims actually held up. Their conclusion is basically that if Canada is truly a white supremacist hierarchy, it’s doing a very bad job of it. Among men, white people are in the middle of the pack for average income, while among women white people actually drop to the lower end of the income scale.
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