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Banning al-Quds Day Won’t Be Easy. But It’s Necessary.

Children carry signs comparing the Israel Defence Forces to ISIS at al-Quds Day in Toronto on June 9, 2018 (Photo: Twitter)

June 26, 2018

OPINION | By Josh Korn
Special to B’nai Brith Canada

The opinions, facts and any media content presented do not necessarily reflect the position of B’nai Brith Canada.

OTTAWA – Earlier this month, an article by David Reevely appeared in the Ottawa Citizen in which he questions how incoming Ontario Premier Doug Ford plans to implement his campaign pledge to ban al-Quds Day rallies in Ontario.

I agree with him that this will be tough to achieve. In the past few years, there have been calls to revoke al-Quds Day permits, legal challenges and more. This year, B’nai Brith Canada warned elected officials (including Toronto Mayor John Tory) that the Toronto event is a literal hatefest. None of these efforts has succeeded.

The rest of Reevely’s article, however, is loaded with misconceptions.

The most striking error is that al-Quds Day organizers are somehow careless in allowing naked Jew-hatred into the rally. In fact, it’s the other way around, with organizers using the Palestinian issue as a camouflage for the parades of overtly antisemitic speakers.

Why else would they keep inviting such speakers year after year? Like in 2017, when organizers invited U.S. Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett.

Or, earlier this month, when Sheikh Shafiq Huda of the Islamic Humanitarian Service addressed the crowd and called for the “eradication”  of the Israeli people.

There’s also the “East Jerusalem” canard. The explicit goal of al-Quds Day is not to “evict Jews from East Jerusalem,” as Reevely attests, but to completely destroy Israel and murder its Jewish inhabitants. Reading even a few speeches, or tweets, from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei should remove any doubt about that.

Then there’s the notion that if left alone, the al-Quds day rally will eventually peter out. In my view, that’s codswallop. How many times have rallies like this one demonstrated that their messages won’t just reach the public, but also generate headlines? How many more times do we have to let hate-filled events like this slide before we understand that letting things slide is the wrong thing to do?

Last, but not least, is David Reevely’s paper-thin attention to history. Yes, knowing that al-Quds Day was inaugurated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini does give us some perspective, but it’s nowhere near enough.

The true Palestinian connection to al-Quds Day is where Khomeini learned his antisemitism –  from someone even more virulent than himself. During World War II, Khomeini listened religiously to the nightly short-wave radio broadcasts by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had been hired by Adolf Hitler himself to broadcast Arabic-language propaganda to the Middle East, at an an alleged monthly salary worth more than $100,000 USD today.

So, when you hear speakers at al-Quds Day rallies talking about “the Zionist regime that sucks the blood out of everything,” you’re actually listening to words first uttered by al-Husseini. And, when you hear that “Jews are a cancer on society,” you’re hearing almost the exact words of Adolf Hitler from as long ago as 1919.

That’s what al-Quds Day is really about.

To sign B’nai Brith Canada’s petition demanding that Toronto’s City Manager end future al-Quds Day rallies and fine the organizers, click here.

Josh Korn is a researcher, software architect and builder of children’s sports organizations. His family roots date back to the early days of the Kibbutz and Moshav movements. He is also one of about 140 people who owe their lives to five individuals honoured as Righteous Among the Nations in November of 2017.