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Heckling Torontonians heading into Jewish community centre crosses a line

The Toronto Sun
Published Oct 20, 2023


Some may call it protesting.

But when you are heckling people in front of a Jewish community centre, waving hurtful signs and shouting hurtful slogans, there are other words for it.

Intimidation. Harassment. Anti-Semitic.

All of those words can be used to describe what went on Friday outside the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre – located at Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. W. – where 50 pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered to deride Israel in its war with Hamas in Gaza after the designated terrorist group’s murderous rampage that killed 1,400 innocent Jews on Oct. 7.

With people still mourning that dastardly deed, which many Jewish people consider a second Holocaust, agitators chose a Friday to get in their space as they entered the famous Jewish recreation centre.

“Everyone has the right to protest,” said Richard Robertson, Manager of Research at B’nai Brith Canada. “However, the undue targeting of Toronto’s Jewish community is unjustifiable and anti-Semitic.”

You couldn’t do something like that a mosque, nor should you. You would be arrested if you pulled that kind of stunt outside an abortion clinic or a so-called safe injection site. When convoy-style demonstrations were planned, the City brought out garbage trucks and barriers, as well as officers from the Toronto Police Public Order and Mounted Units – all at the expense of taxpayers.

When it comes to those concerned for Palestinians, all sides understand that human compassion.

Toronto Police have been more than generous – affording leniency to those protesting in support of Palestine.

But getting in the way of people at a Jewish centre crosses the line of decency. No one was buying the cover story of protesting at Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s constituency office.

Targetting the Jewish centre was reminiscent of the 2021 stunt that saw mock eviction notices dropped off at Jewish homes. It’s hateful.

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw and Deputy Chief Lauren Pogue have said they won’t tolerate hate crimes.

With a man already charged by police for allegedly desecrating a Toronto mosque twice and three others charged after allegedly threatening students at a private Jewish high school in North York, it must be said that Muslim places of gathering or worship, synagogues, churches and schools should all be off limits for protesters.

Demonstrators should stick to the public squares.

If anybody gets hurt at one of these protests, criminal charges will be laid. The police are doing their best to not take it there but there are limits to their patience.

Protests at City Hall, Parliament Hill or Queen’s Park that were happening Friday night are where they should be. But when you start taking over downtown streets and intersections, or chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at the Toronto Metropolitan University Campus like we saw Friday, protesters find themselves in a grey area.

Many students at the former Ryerson campus, and those at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, expressed concern for their well-being.

“Canadian Jews have a right to utilize their community spaces without fear of being unduly persecuted for the actions of a foreign government,” said Robertson.

But that right was violated on Friday.