Al Quds Day: where blatant and troubling antisemitism feels at home

Our community knows antisemitism when we see it. And we know that the annual Al Quds Day protest – which was initiated by the Iranian regime to promote Israel’s destruction – is a hotbed of Jew hatred.

This is why, every year, we monitor the largest Al Quds Day protest in Canada, held in downtown Toronto, and expose its hateful content to the world. Last weekend’s protest featured, once again, the display of terror flags, images of Iran’s ayatollahs, and the demonization of Israel.

We were not surprised to find that the keynote speaker was someone who has been denounced by elected officials from across the political spectrum – including by the Prime Minister – for peddling antisemitic tropes. Nor were we shocked that the rally’s co-founder declared that Zionists are “threatening to destroy” the Al Aqsa mosque – or that one participant referred to Arab members of the Knesset as “house negros, house Arabs” and then went on to say that a gay couple in Gaza  “would be executed according to Islamic law.”

We cannot be silent in the face of such hatred. This is why CIJA has spearheaded a strategic campaign over the past eight years to expose the ignorance and hate that pervades the Al Quds Day to elected officials and the broader public. It is clear that the organizers behind Al Quds Day are feeling the pressure.

In 2009, the protest featured hundreds of people chanting in celebration of the massacre of Jews by the armies of Mohammed in the 7th century. This year, there was a single placard with this message, and it contained a typo.

Image from Israelly Cool

A decade ago, scores of protestors waved Hezbollah flags. This year, only one was seen in the entire crowd.

In the past, the rally featured loud chants of that notorious call for the elimination of Israel: “From the River to the Sea!” This year, a chorus of perhaps a dozen male voices could be heard half-heartedly repeating the chant, until it petered out into an awkward silence.

The protest used to take place prominently on the steps of the Ontario Legislature. This year, the protesters gathered in a small square across the street from the U.S. Consulate.

The organizers of Al-Quds Day know they are under scrutiny, which is why we must keep up the pressure.

We are urging the city to set a clear policy to hold hate activists, like the Al Quds Day organizers, accountable when they abuse Toronto’s parks and city squares as platforms to peddle their toxic agenda. Those who promote antisemitism and other forms of hate should never be allowed to take over the city’s cherished spaces. Our proposal is currently being considered by city officials, but we need your support to make it happen.

If you live in Toronto, we encourage you to email or phone your councillor and tell them how you feel about Al Quds day.

Wherever you live in Canada, you can make a difference in the fight against antisemitism. Contact your MP and tell them about the hateful nature of Al-Quds Day. Let them know that antisemitism cannot be fought if it cannot be identified, which is why the Government of Canada should adopt the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism to counter Jew hatred within our country.

Our community should take some comfort in knowing that our collective efforts are working. Our many allies in government have rightly and repeatedly condemned the protest. They are as disgusted as we are by this annual organized expression of antisemitism. Let’s keep up the pressure.

Sincerely,

Joel and Jeff

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