On July 3, people in Vancouver and Toronto took to the streets, responding to Israeli aggression, attacks and assaults on the Palestinian people. In Toronto, the rally came also for the Palestinian community to defend itself from attempted intimidation and threats by the ultra-right-wing racist Zionist organization, the Jewish Defense League.
Protesters in Vancouver, including Red Sparks Union, the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign, the Revolutionary Student Union and members of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Vancouver and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at UBC, rallied at the Vancouver public library on July 3, demanding an end to Israeli war crimes and Canadian complicity and support for those crimes.
The organizers reported: “The organizers acknowledge that we are on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh. As we are here to condemn the gross Israeli war crimes of the past few weeks and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation we have a responsibility to take a stand against the Canadian colonial settler state and in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of this land in their struggle for sovereignty, self-determination and liberation.
Palestinians, solidarity activists and concerned people from numerous Vancouver communities gathered to protest Israel’s ongoing and escalating war crimes in Palestine. Israel is completely morally bankrupt in using the death of three settler youth to justify its renewed and brutal assault on Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and within the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. Defense for Children International has documented over 1400 Palestinian children killed by Israeli occupation forces and settlers since 2000. Just in the past two weeks more than 630 prisoners have been rounded up by Israeli occupation forces. Palestinians have been killed and wounded by Israeli Occupation Forces and now settler violence has been released on Palestinians with the brutal murder of 17 year old boy in East Jerusalem and general wave of state sanctioned terror. This isn’t about justice or looking at the causes of the three settler youth, it is about Israel’s continuing agenda of occupation, of expansion and of containment of the Palestinian liberation struggle.”
In Toronto, the Palestinian community organized to resist the infamous racist and violent Jewish Defense League after it attempted to intimidate the Palestinian community by declaring it would demonstrate at Palestinian community centre Palestine House. The JDL is described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as: “a radical organization that preaches a violent form of anti-Arab, Jewish nationalism. Its late founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, claimed that Jews face fierce anti-Semitism domestically and abroad and must protect themselves by any means necessary. The JDL’s position with regard to Israel is denial of any Palestinian claims to land and the calling for the removal of all Arabs from the “Jewish-inherited soil.” The group has orchestrated countless terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad, and has engaged in intense harassment of foreign diplomats, Muslims, Jewish scholars and community leaders, and officials.”
The Palestinian community, its supporters and friends mobilized to resist the JDL, defend Palestine House and the Palestinian community and denounce Israeli terror. Palestine House wrote on its Facebook page, “Yesterday, the Palestinian Community in Toronto stood firmly and countered the JDL protest against our Palestinian people in Gaza and The West Bank. Thanks for every child , every woman, student, man and our great elderly who came to Palestine House to condemn the continuous Israeli occupation to Palestine. Our Palestinian flag as usual looked so beautiful in the hands of our children. Let Palestine always unite us and let Palestine House gather us here in Toronto.”
It should be noted that Palestine House, the centre of a large Palestinian community, has come under attack not only from the JDL but also from the Canadian government, which under Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney defunded the centre, which had been supported for services to new immigrants. The center was attacked and defunded for honouring the release of political prisoners, respecting historic Palestinian leaders such as Dr. George Habash, and for including the map of Palestine in its logo, per government statements.
Despite these various attacks, the community has continued to rally around their center, to organize, and to stand strong, as demonstrated once again on July 3.