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Premier concerned about ‘antisemitic’ actions in Legislative Building


November 24, 2023

Premier concerned about ‘antisemitic’ actions in Legislative Building | 650 CKOM

Premier Scott Moe is concerned about what he called an “antisemitic” phrase used in the Legislative Building during a rally.

On Monday, a pro-Palestine rally calling for a ceasefire in Gaza disrupted the Legislative Assembly during Question Period.

“ ‘From the river to the sea’ is an antisemitic comment and is often associated with the ethnic cleansing of Israel,” said Moe.

Members of the rally shouted the phrase during the demonstration.

Moe was troubled by one NDP MLA, Jennifer Bowes, allegedly liking the post.

“The NDP caucus is increasingly being viewed as being a gathering of self-proclaimed radicals or extremists, liking antisemitic posts like this,” said Moe.

The like has since been removed from the post.

Opposition Carla Beck told media the action was not OK.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it, and let me be very clear, the phrase that was used is not acceptable, full stop,” she said Thursday morning.

Beck said she will be looking into the issue, saying: “I’ll deal with it.”

Marvin Rotrand is the national director of the League for Human Rights with B’nai Brith Canada, which is a Jewish human rights organization.

He agrees that the phrase itself is harmful and attempts to wipe out years of Jewish history in Israel.

“ ‘River to the sea’ means replacing Israel with a state that would incorporate all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” Rotrand said. “It would include the West Bank, all of Israel and the Gaza Strip. It would be a Palestinian state.

“It’s seen by most people for what it is: an attack against Jews, antisemitic and a way to promote hate against Jews everywhere in the world.”

He believes people who use the chant are in support of the terrorist group Hamas.

While the phrase is seen as antisemitic, Rotrand said people still have the right to protest and Jewish people are not trying to take that right away.

“We agree with the government that people can rally to express their point of view as long as they don’t cross the line to violate the Criminal Code,” he said.

He agrees with the right to protest, but advises people to choose their words carefully.

“It’s a thin line between free speech and hate speech. We are not advocating that people’s right to demonstrate be removed. We are, however, asking that when there are hateful statements – which are likely to foment violence against Jews right here in Canada – that there be action taken by law enforcement,” said Rotrand.

The phrase has yet to be classified as hate speech.