Thousands rally in Toronto calling on Hamas to release hostages

On Sunday, Christie Pits in Toronto was the site of a solidarity rally for the 240+ hostages being held captive in Gaza.

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Thousands were in attendance at this event, and this rally was truly the flipside of the numerous pro-Hamas hate-fests that have been staged in cities round the globe in recent weeks.

For example, there were no chants advocating that Muslims or Islamic nations be eradicated. Nobody was getting violent nor advocating for violence (indeed, one young lady was offering free hugs). Nobody was spray-bombing monuments or storefronts.

And in addition to the flag of Israel, several Canadian flags were visible. Again, it all made for such a profound difference when compared to the “mostly peaceful protests” staged by the Hamas sympathizers…

As for the venue, we don’t know if Christie Pits was chosen by accident or design. That’s because this year marks the 90th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, one of the darkest chapters in the history of Toronto.

Indeed, here’s how The Canadian Encyclopedia chronicled the hatred that erupted on Aug. 16, 1933:

 It remains one of the worst outbreaks of ethnic violence in Canadian history with over 10,000 participants and spectators.

The riot was sparked by Nazi-inspired youth flying a swastika flag at a public baseball game to antagonize and provoke Jewish Canadians… The brawl soon escaped the confines of the ballpark. Improvised weapons, baseball bats and lead pipes were used.

Truckloads of reinforcements arrived from surrounding neighbourhoods to support both sides. Italians and other immigrants long persecuted by the Anglo majority fought alongside the Jews.

As for the reason for the brawl? The pro-Nazi instigators informed the Toronto Daily Star that they wanted to “get the Jews out of the park.”

Alas, we can’t help but think that 2023 feels a lot like 1933 for members of Toronto’s Jewish community. The antisemites of today are not necessarily members of the Anglo majority – assuming there is such a thing as an Anglo majority in Toronto these days. Rather, the anti-Jew hatred is coming from the pro-Hamas demonstrators, many of them foreign nationals. And they are quite open in their sentiments that nothing would please them more than the eradication of the state of Israel.

Still, it was refreshing to take in a peaceful rally regarding the Israel-Hamas war. And there was no apprehension on our part when we waded into the crowd to ask attendees several queries, including:

  • Why is so much of anti-Jew vitriol coming from the left, including students and faculty on university campuses?
  • The left has spent decades obsessed with eradicating white supremacists and neo-Nazis all the while forming alliances with Islamists who want nothing more than to engineer a second Holocaust. What’s driving this?
  • Why are so many politicians and members of law enforcement turning a blind eye to antisemitism?
  • And why is it when political leaders do call out antisemitism they also denounce Islamophobia… yet where is the Islamophobia?

Again, it made for a breath of fresh air to engage in civil conversations with the pro-Israel attendees. When covering pro-Hamas rallies, we typically encounter belligerence and even violence. Now then, why would that be the case?

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