Canadians Rally against Rising Antisemitism during Women’s Month Celebration

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In a spirit of defiance and solidarity, hundreds of Canadians from all walks of life gathered outside Queen’s Park in Toronto. This was not a simple day of community camaraderie, but instead, a day of intimate stories, tears, and fervent pleas for action against the escalating wave of antisemitism afflicting their city and country. The rally, coordinated by Canadian Women Against Antisemitism (CWAA), took place amidst the worldwide celebrations of International Women’s Month. Standing in unity, women of various nationalities and religions voiced their resolute commitment to extinguish the flames of hate that have threatened to consume the inclusive fabric of Canadian society.

Embodying the spirit of the rally, more than a dozen Jewish and non-Jewish speakers courageously shared personal experiences of antisemitism. Their stories sparked echoes of empathy among the diverse gathering. Among the heart-wrenching accounts disclosed, the adversities endured by Jewish students emerged as a prominent theme, reminding the audience of the everyday adversities that plague Canada’s ostensibly inclusive campuses.

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Laura Barkel, a senior student at Toronto Metropolitan University, shared her shockingly repugnant experiences. She recalled being spat on by pro-Palestinian protesters and even enduring a venomous comment referencing Hitler. Barkel’s stories painted a sobering picture of the prejudicial environment inhabiting her educational journey. Her words held the crowd in rapt attention, serving as a glaring reminder of the unchecked hatred she and other Jewish students face on Canadian campuses.

Shira Litvack, another victim of campus antisemitism and a fourth-year student from the University of Ottawa, was left with no choice but to cease her educational pursuits after receiving repeated death threats. She reflected on the negligence of the higher authority, her complaints falling on deaf ears and the apathy compelling her to abandon her passion for gender studies. Her absence from university classrooms despite her love for learning was a profound testament to the pervasive impact of unchecked antisemitism.

During the rally, Melissa Lantsman, the Conservative MP, came forth as a staunch critic of the federal government. The seasoned deputy leader of the opposition expressed her concern about the government’s indifference towards the terrorism surging in the international arena. She further condemned the Liberal Party for its failure to recognize the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and to ensure the effective flow of funding to Jewish or any religious institutions.

Further highlighting Canadian values, Deborah Lyons, Canada’s envoy appointed to combat antisemitism, emphasized the grave implications of antisemitism for the country’s national security and democratic foundation. Lyons shared her alarm at the unprecedented rise of antisemitism, not just in numbers but in its viciousness, a stark contrast to Canada’s reputation as a sanctuary of goodness, respect, and civility.

Meanwhile, in a distressing sequence of events, pro-Palestinian activists congregated near a Jewish community in midtown Toronto. Their meeting held a peculiar significance, being staged to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Purim. They called upon supporters to bring traditional Jewish festival noisemakers, gragers as a form of disruption. Among them, the presence of a sign carried by Samidoun, an activist organization linked to the internationally recognized terror group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, further intensified concern.

As the rally unfurled, two middle-aged women bemoaned the federal government’s lackadaisical approach towards combating antisemitism. They criticized the apparent preoccupation with Islamophobia, while anti-Jewish hate crimes constituted more than half of all reported incidents. Their sentiments echoed Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw’s report, which noted a staggering jump in hate-related crime incidents since October 7, with the Jewish community being the prevalent target.

In a society known for its inclusiveness and openness, the stories of these Canadians were an alarming revelation, revealing a deep-seated issue that requires collective effort and policymaking decisions to combat effectively. As Conservative MPP Goldie Ghamari aptly summarized, the time to stand up to antisemitism is now, given the disturbing reality already unfurling within the Canadian society.