On June 1st, Canada’s Jewish community braced for the annual display of hate, lies, and antisemitism directed against Jews and Israel expressed during “Al-Quds day”. Parades took place in various Canadian cities, the most notable one being in Toronto. However, unlike every other event that happens in downtown Toronto, from barbecue festivals to political gatherings, the city’s administration gladly let the event take place without a permit, free of charge. The organizers of this hateful event were allowed to occupy University Avenue, use sound amplification equipment, and benefit of police protection with all expenses taken care of by Toronto’s government, or in other words, its citizens. This includes its Jewish and Zionist citizens whom the participants of Al-Quds nonchalantly call colonialists, murderers and genocidal.
Attendees and passersby had the delight of hearing oft-repeated lies, slurs, and propaganda such as “Israel kills one Palestinian child every 60 hours for the past 14 years”, a rather impressive feat in statistical accuracy. Placards showing bloodied children and calls to boycott this “apartheid” State were also part of the festivities. Speakers claimed that Zionists only have a “tiny number of friends” who are all billionaires with a tremendous amount of power, supporting the usual antisemitic conspiracy that Jews secretly control the world.
While it is not surprising that such hateful, misleading and discriminatory speech exists in the world, it is unacceptable that these speakers, who infringe on basic hate speech and propaganda laws, get a yearly green light to promote lies and antisemitism in downtown Toronto, all on the taxpayer’s dollar. Considering that Justin Trudeau recently passed the M-103 bill broadening the definition and hardening the punishments for Islamophobia, it seems that the Canadian government is turning a blind eye when it comes to displays of Antisemitism, especially when it comes in such an obvious form: the Al-Quds parade. Could such an event take place in major Canadian cities, free of charge and without the need of a permit, if they openly spread lies and hate about other minorities?
Thankfully, B’nai Brith Canada has made multiple attempts with the Toronto administration for stopping the centre of the city from becoming a platform for Antisemitic and Holocaust-denying speech, but their efforts were always in vain. Real measures should be taken at a municipal and national level, and the Canadian government should practice what it preaches: being a champion of human rights and of the fight against hate speech.