One Toronto Israel-Hamas war rally calls for peace, the other violence

Pro-Israeli rally calls for release of hostages, pro-Palestine protest calls of overthrow of Israel

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Two different groups protested in the streets of Toronto on Sunday to mark the 100th day since Hamas attacked Israel and took more than 200 hostages. One of the groups called for peace and the return of the hostages, the other called for intifada, revolution and the destruction of Israel.

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It’s been this way since Hamas broke the ceasefire. Supporters of Israel call for peace, supporters of Hamas call for violence while carrying signs demanding a return to the ceasefire Hamas broke.

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At City Hall, a crowd of several hundred people, perhaps as many as 1,000, gathered at Nathan Phillips Square demanding that the remaining hostages be freed.

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Councillor James Pasternak called out the charity Save the Children for ignoring calls from his office to do something about the hostage situation in Israel, he also had harsh words for the Canadian chapter of the International Red Cross for not doing enough for the hostages.

“One hundred days may not seem like a long time when you are free, but it’s a lifetime when you are captured. This war crime has been glossed over by so many. It is totally shocking,” Pasternak said.

“Bring them home now”

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Sun columnist Warren Kinsella also spoke at the event saying that, “I am Irish and I am Catholic, but I am here today with all of you and I want to say this to all of you … when one of us is held hostage, we are all held hostage. When one of our businesses is attacked, we are all attacked. When the schools that our kids go to, our kids targeted, the places we worship, places of love and reverence are attacked, we are all attacked,” Kinsella said.

Kinsella called for the hostages to be released and said that we are all in this together.

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The names of the remaining hostages and those confirmed to have died in captivity were read out one by one. Rabbi Meir Dubrawsky, spiritual leader of the Yorkville Jewish Centre, called for those in attendance to hold on to hope that the hostages would be released.

“If a person loses hope, he has nothing,” Dubrawsky said. “If there is one thing we can leave here today with, let’s continue to have hope.”

That was the rally at Nathan Phillips Square.

Protesters attend a rally in support of Palestine.
Protesters attend a rally in support of Palestine in Toronto, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo by Arlyn McAdorey /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Walking north from City Hall, the mass rally that had been taking place outside the Israeli Consulate at Yonge and Bloor Sts. was headed south along Yonge before turning at College St. and heading back up Bay St. towards Bloor. While the rally at Nathan Phillips Square was about peace and the release of hostages, the pro-Hamas rally was angry and antagonistic.

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Beyond the genocidal chant of, “From the river to the sea,” demonstrators also chanted, “Justin Trudeau, you will see, Palestine will be free.” They called for Intifada, the violent revolution and overthrow of Israel.

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Those protesters claim they aren’t pro-Hamas, that they are pro-Palestinian. Yet in all of the marches and protests that I have covered since Oct. 7, I have never heard a single call from these protesters for Hamas to lay down their arms, not a single claim that Hamas is responsible for any of this or that the Palestinian people would be better off without this terrorist group in charge.

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Instead, it’s all about supporting the violent overthrow of Israel, which if you haven’t noticed is what Hamas is attempting to carry out.

The juxtaposition of the two rallies tells you all that you need to know. One wants peace, the other wants violence, death and destruction.

Which side are you on?

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