B’nai Brith Canada has again filed a complaint with police over this year’s al-Quds Day event.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic blocked the Toronto al-Quds Day committee from conducting its customary rally in downtown Toronto but did not prevent it from spreading hate on the internet, B’nai Brith alleged in a May 18 statement.
The al-Quds rally, which originated in Iran in 1979 and has drawn thousands to the streets of Toronto each year to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, this time moved online to comport with COVID requirements.
B’nai Brith pointed out that while the annual rally “is supposedly held for the benefit of Palestinians, not a single one of the 12 speakers at [the May 17] event was Palestinian.”
The Jewish advocacy group noted that Paul Larudee, an Iranian-American activist addressing virtual attendees, proclaimed, “Let us make Zionist citizens of so-called Israel unwelcome anywhere in the world,” adding, “We must treat them as we would treat any thieves and murderers.”
His remarks were welcomed by virtual rally host Farman Ali, who described them as “great words,” B’nai Brith added.
B’nai Brith said it is filing a complaint with Toronto police “over this act of hatred against Israelis based on their nationality.”
Throughout the event, Ali repeated, “Judaism yes, Zionism no,” but “this did not prevent the use of antisemitic tropes during the rally,” B’nai Brith said.
Earlier in the afternoon, organizers played a video entitled “The Palestine Pandemic,” which described Zionism as a “Satanic endeavour,” according to the BB statement.
It added that the video went on to identify Zionism with “the military-industrial complex, elite-run societies, corporatocracies” and “the one percent who rule this planet.” It concluded with the words: “Free Palestine, free Jerusalem, free the world.”
Meanwhile, one speaker alleged that “Apartheid Israel” was an “ally” of COVID, while another described the Jewish state, as “a cancer that has been growing, a cancer that has been spreading,” BB stated.
“The hateful, antisemitic content of this event demonstrates exactly why it should never again be allowed on Toronto’s streets,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Even after the COVID restrictions pass, we expect the City of Toronto to follow the lead of world cities like Berlin in permanently banning physical al-Quds marches.”
B’nai Brith also pointed out that this year’s rally took a partisan political turn, with remarks by Dimitri Lascaris, “who used the occasion to boost his campaign for leadership of the Green Party of Canada.” The event host then told Lascaris that “when the time comes, you can absolutely count on us.”
For many years, speakers at Toronto al-Quds Day rallies have praised terrorists and incited hatred against Jews and Israelis, BB noted, citing:
In 2018, a featured speaker said he was praying for the “eradication” of Israelis. In 2013 and 2016, speakers called for Israelis to be shot. In 2014, a Muslim cleric called for “Yahoodi” (Arabic for “Jewish”) to be “dismantled.” Last year, another cleric brandished a sign referring to a massacre of Jews.
In a statement to the CJR, Martin Sampson, vice president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said that despite being held online, this year’s al-Quds Day protest “– an odious project initiated by the Iranian regime to promote Israel’s destruction – featured the same antisemitic themes we see every year, including calling Israel a cancer.”
Sampson said CIJA “continues to expose the antisemitism that pervades the Al-Quds day rallies to law enforcement and to elected officials at all levels of government.”