Yet Another Toronto Star Column Defends Anti-Israel Hate Fests

April 18, 2024

On April 14, The Toronto Star ran an opinion column written by Atif Kubursi and Mohamed Boudjenane, the chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Canadian Arab Federation board of trustees. Throughout the piece, the pair argued that the right to protest legitimate criticism of Israel or Israeli policies must be protected in Canada, and that the use of “the antisemitism card” against anyone who supports “the democratic rights of Palestinians, Muslims, and their allies” is wrong.

Leaving aside the offensive implication of the term “antisemitism card” (would they object to the term “Islamophobia card?”), in support of their point that these protests are just peaceful opposition to Israeli government policy, they cite Al Quds Day.

This international day of protest began more than 40 years ago at the behest of the Iranian regime, and in direct support of the Ayatollah. Since then, it has remained a notoriously antisemitic hate fest, where not only is support openly shown for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, but the invited speakers are themselves members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as well as Holocaust deniers.

Signs supporting global intifada abound at these protests. The word ‘intifada’ refers to violent armed uprising against Jews in Israel, so a ‘global’ version can only be interpreted as a threat to target Jews worldwide. Using the Iranian regime-backed Al Quds day as an example to support the argument that these are just peaceful, democracy-loving protests is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

The suggestion by Kubursi and Boudjenane that the public should not “focus on specific slogans or affiliations” is certainly telling, since if these were indeed peaceful and democratic protests, they should be able to defend the ‘slogans and affiliations’ of attendees (most especially those invited to be speakers). At the very least, they should denounce those who are spouting violent anti-Jewish or anti-Israel rhetoric. The suggestion that Canadians ought to turn a blind eye to the very core of the protest – that is, that a large majority are there in support of the total destruction of the Jewish State – reasonably suggests that what they want is carte blanche to engage in anti-Western and anti-Jewish bigotry, not democratic protest.

Kubursi and Boudjenane argued throughout that there are many people who attend these rallies, from all walks of life, and with varying motivations for being there. While this may be true, if the supposedly ‘pro-Palestinian’ crowd wants to be taken seriously as a group simply expressing support for the plight of the Palestinian people, they would do well to weed out those in their midst who openly call for violence against Jews around the world. If they want to be seen as supporting democratic values and not Islamic terrorist groups, they should reject the flags of Hezbollah and Hamas being waved, and trade them for Canadian ones instead.

Finally, Kubursi and Boudjenane seemingly want Canadians to believe that the protests are ‘peaceful’ simply because physical violence is rarely present. This is a ridiculous definition of peaceful, when participants with loudspeakers walk up and down the streets of Toronto calling for direct action against Jewish institutions and attempt to harass members of the public. In short, such hate appears to be a central feature of anti-Israel demonstrations.

If words have no meaning or no power, then why are Kubursi and Boudjenane worried about being called antisemitic? If words are not actions, then why do they care how people speak about these protests?

Perhaps it’s because the writers know that words drive people to action. They’re afraid that the Canadian people will be moved to oppose these hateful ‘protests’, because people are speaking out in condemnation of them, in much the same way that the world’s Jews know all too well what antisemitic words and messaging can drive people to do. Anti-Israel protests have become indistinguishable with hatefests, and those who are unable and unwilling to condemn them – and even worse, defend them – have no moral authority to lecture Canadians. Kubursi and Boudjenane’s column in The Toronto Star is a reprehensible defence of overt demonstrations of hate that have no place in Canadian society

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