‘Hamas is a resistance group!’: Masked anti-Israel activists swarm Toronto’s annual ‘Walk with Israel’

While an Iranian man calmly explained his anti-Hamas perspective on the conflict and articulated that the other side’s arguments are mainly fuelled by emotion, ironically, a masked and hooded blonde woman started repeatedly yelling in his face, 'You terrorist! Hamas is a resistance group!'

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On Sunday, the annual ‘Walk With Israel’ took place in Toronto with estimated reports of 50,000 people in attendance. This year, the high level of attendance was met with a few hundred masked anti-Israel counter-protesters on the sidelines. Hundreds of police officers lined the streets in an effort to keep the peace.

The organizers of the family event acquired a permit, making a section of Bathurst Street private property for the duration of the march, but that didn’t stop a swarm of anti-Israel radicals from showing up to angrily protest.

“I think they’re wasting their time, they claim apartheid, yet they come into our rented space that we set up, and they take over. They’re slowly taking over Queens, York, U of T. Where’s the real apartheid here?” one attendee told me.

I spoke directly with some of the anti-Israel activists, although many refused to speak to us aside from angry mantras such as “F**k Rebel News!”

One of the Rabbis from a fringe ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism called Neturei Karta told me, “The state of Israel has to be totally dismantled. It is a total rebellion against God.” He claimed that if this were to happen, “It wouldn’t be a problem because the Palestinian people and all the Muslim people in the Muslim and Arab countries have embraced Jews. We don’t have a problem because of a difference of religion.”

While an Iranian man calmly explained his anti-Hamas perspective on the conflict and articulated that the other side’s arguments are mainly fueled by emotion, ironically, a masked and hooded blonde woman started repeatedly yelling in his face, “You terrorist! Hamas is a resistance group!”

Although some interviewees held extreme perspectives, one local holding a Canadian flag held a neutral stance and was simply concerned about the chaos that had reached Canadian soil.

“I live up the street. I love my community here. I’m worried about the fear that sometimes comes from these events when I think we all should just be able to talk. Even when the worst things happen, we should be able to stop and talk. It’s important,” he expressed.

Pro-Israel walk attendees told me their thoughts on the counter-protesters.

“I’m not surprised, this happens all the time. We just want to live our lives and they come and harass us,” said one young man.

Another explained why he thinks the opposition covers their faces: “Because they’re not proud of what they’re doing, that’s a simple fact. Why would you cover your face? My face is right here, my eyes are here, and I’m very proud to be supporting Israel, Canada’s democratic ally.”

Oddly enough, both Israel pride flags and Palestine pride flags were seen at the rally.

“Queers for Palestine is like saying Chickens for KFC,” a pro-Israel marcher commented.

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