Like you, I was infuriated to learn that a Canadian organization that presents itself as Jewish would call for the “dismantlement” of Israel “by any means necessary.” Though this incitement to violence is horrifying, it is, sadly, not surprising. As we witnessed repeatedly last year and as recently as three weeks ago, the language used by anti-Israel activists is increasingly inflammatory and violent.
On Sunday, militant Israel-haters across Canada will gather under the banner of Nakba Day. To advance their cynical agenda, these extremists will drown out Arab voices in Israel and the diaspora who reject calls for violence, raise legitimate concerns, and dedicate their efforts to bringing Israelis and Palestinians closer together.
In Vancouver, the protest is being planned by Samidoun, an organization with well-documented ties to the PFLP, a designated terrorist entity in Canada. In Toronto, protestors will gather to “demand” the end of Israel by “any means.” In Montreal, the protest will occur soon after the recent violent attack against a member of our community, targeted because he was carrying an Israeli flag.
All Canadians must reject this violence. CIJA security, in partnership with security teams at Jewish Federations across Canada, will be watching Nakba Day protests carefully. We will remain in close contact with police who will be monitoring Canadian streets for acts of hate. We appreciate the leadership of law enforcement officials such as Toronto Police Service Chief Ramer who stated clearly that the TPS “will not tolerate any intimidation, harassment, or hate-motivated behaviour aimed at specific communities.”
Police understand our concern and will enforce the law.
The antidote to Nakba Day is, of course, Yom Ha’atzmaut. Our community should take comfort that elected officials from all levels of government – on all sides of the House, right across the country – joined flag-raising ceremonies to celebrate the miracle that is the Jewish state.
Like us, they know that the creation of the modern state of Israel is a miracle worthy of celebration. Innovation, democracy, and diversity are core values shared by Canadians and Israelis alike. Seeing our elected representatives at these events is a clear signal that they understand the central role Israel plays in Canadian Jewish life and identity, and that Canada is – and will remain – a steadfast ally of Israel, a sister democracy with whom Canadians have so much in common.
Denying Jewish peoplehood or the Jewish people’s right to self-determination by calling for Israel to be “dismantled” is antisemitic. We will always denounce anti-Jewish racism whenever we see it. Speaking out against racism targeting Jews is not anti-Palestinian, and this complex conflict is not a zero-sum equation. Supporting Israel is not anti-Palestinian. Palestinians have a unique identity and national aspirations that all of us who support a two-state solution acknowledge, understand, and respect.
Selectively and repeatedly singling out Israel as the only party to this complex conflict does a great disservice to the Palestinian people. It absolves Palestinian leaders from their obligation to contribute to creating a better future for Palestinian children.
Peace is possible.
We believe that bold initiatives such as the Abraham Accords, which formalize diplomatic relations between Israel and nations across the Arab world, are key to creating peace. By establishing these expanded and respectful relations with Israel, Arab nations, including the U.A.E., Morocco, Oman, Sudan, and Bahrain, have embraced peace and opened the door to realizing a shared vision for a new, regional future based on common interests and shared values.
What moves us closer to peace?
It’s not spewing manufactured fury on street corners, calling for the end of Israel, and rationalizing violence against Jews, which is not just misguided but counterproductive – and moves us further from peace, demonizes Israel, and harms the Palestinian cause.
It must stop.
Since 2000, multiple pathways to peace have been proposed, and all have been rejected by Palestinian leadership without counteroffer. Rather than wasting energy harming Israelis and threatening Jews and supporters of Israel around the world, we challenge the organizers of Nakba Day to choose a new path and urge the Palestinian leadership to come to the table and negotiate.
When they do, Israel will be ready.
Chair, National Board of Directors
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs