If a pro-Palestine protest in a Jewish-Canadian neighbourhood was meant to intimidate, the head of B’nai Brith Canada says it didn’t work.
In fact, says B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn, it did the opposite.
“I can tell you we were not intimidated. What it did was galvanize the community.”
This is what was on display on normally quiet Hove Street — near Sheppard Ave. and Bathurst St. — when about 200 people protectively stood in front of the B’nai Brith headquarters to fend off a group of 80 people attending the “Rally To Oppose B’nai Brith Canada’s Smear Campaign Against The Canadian Union Of Postal Workers.”
What ensued for two hours was a no-holds-barred screamfest over loudspeakers — with opposing factions stationed on opposite sides of the street separated by Toronto police.
It featured the usual rhetoric and heated tempers, but what made this one different was it was on a residential street — home to many Jewish families.
“There are holocaust survivors who live here,” said an irate Meir Weinstein, national director of the Canadian chapter of the Jewish Defence League. “There is a synagogue dedicated to the holocaust just one minute away. This was very offensive to come here.”
But the protesters — bolstered by about 20 women wearing niqabs and some children who stepped off a school bus about halfway through — called this a “peaceful rally” to “show solidarity with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)” who they say was “smeared by B’nai Brith due to CUPW’s principled advocacy for the human rights of the Palestinian people. B’nai Brith asserted that CUPW had aligned itself with the Palestinian Postal Service Workers Union (PPSWU), which B’nai Brith accuses of being ‘pro-terrorist’”
Lawyer Dimitri Lascaris said “virtually the whole world now understands that Israel is an apartheid state.”
But Noah Shack, Vice-President of Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA,) said “what the Jewish community of Bathurst Manor witnessed today is a failed attempt at intimidation by a hateful group of protesters who boasted of ‘taking it to their neighbourhood’. It is absolutely unacceptable that these tactics are being used to sow discord between communities in our city.”
He added, “the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has shamefully allowed itself to be drawn into the anti-semitic and counter-productive hate campaign against Israel. Union members waved their flags and applauded speakers who derided local residents and spewed inflammatory statements calling for the destruction of Israel.”
Participants on both sides hurled verbal expletives at each other, and every once in a while had to be separated by police who did a stellar job of keeping the peace.
The big question from today was this: are residential areas now open-season for religious protests?
“To come into the heart of the Jewish community is appalling,” said Toronto city council candidate Moby Hargoe.
The one thing that really struck me was when a woman not in any way involved, taking her young son for a ride in a wagon, being forced into the middle of the street over something that should be argued in a public space and not in a neighbourhood.
That was not something I have ever seen in Toronto before.
Mostyn told me that the protest also shut down their hot-lunch program for holocaust survivors, as well as programs for veterans, the daycare centre and the pregnancy support centre.
He promised they will all re-open, and Mostyn said they will not back down on protecting the Jewish people.
“We are a humanitarian organization that helps people and we will not stop doing the great work we do,” he said.
“This did not intimidate us.”
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies