May 18, 2020
B’nai Brith Canada
TORONTO – The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic blocked the Toronto al-Quds Day Committee from conducting its customary occupation of downtown Toronto, but did not prevent it from spreading hate on the internet.
Ironically, though al-Quds Day is supposedly held for the benefit of the Palestinians, not a single one of the 12 speakers at Sunday’s event was Palestinian.
Paul Larudee, an Iranian-American activist addressing attendees online on Sunday, 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 Canada is in the process of filing a complaint with Toronto Police over this act of hatred against Israelis based on their nationality.
Throughout the event, Ali repeated the mantra, “Judaism yes, Zionism no,” but this did not prevent the use of antisemitic tropes during the rally.
Earlier in the afternoon, organizers played a video entitled “The Palestine Pandemic,” which described Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement, as a “Satanic endeavour.” The video went on to identify Zionism with “the military-industrial complex, elite-run societies, corporatocracies” and “the 1% 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-19, while another described Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, as “a cancer that has been growing, a cancer that has been spreading.”
“The hateful, antisemitic content of this event demonstrates exactly why it should never again be allowed on Toronto’s streets,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Even after the COVID-19 restrictions pass, we expect the City of Toronto to follow the lead of world cities like Berlin in permanently banning physical al-Quds marches.”
At one point, the virtual 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 the Toronto al-Quds Day rally have praised terrorists and incited hatred against Jews and Israelis. 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 an ominous sign referring to a massacre of Jews.