Yesterday there was a pro-Palestinian protest outside of city hall in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the city where I come from. It has been extremely frustrating for me to see images of protests around the world and understand that open Anti-Semitism is sweeping the streets of Western nations, but this one hit especially close to home.
I come from a city that often goes unappreciated among Canadians and is often unknown to people around the world unless they remember when we hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988. Calgary is a thriving metropolis of over a million people, with a booming oil & gas economy and is known for its appreciation of arts & culture. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the most pro-Israel leader in the entire world right now is from Calgary. He comes to visit often, and his constituency office sits across the road from our Jewish Community Center. I’ve always felt proud and connected to come from a city where my values and identity as a political Conservative and a pro-Israel Jew are shared by so many other Calgarians and that many of us represent the values of our country on a national level.
I learned from my days at University of Calgary that there will always be groups of people who disagree with our government’s policies and are vehemently anti-Israel and even antisemitic. But I never thought they would be able to rally 1000 people in front of Calgary City Hall and publicly, legally and violently incite hatred and support for terror. Not in my city. Not in Calgary.
I am absolutely disgusted, embarrassed and outraged that this was allowed to take place in my home town and that peaceful Israel supporters were attacked in broad daylight for holding Israeli flags as members of the Calgary community yelled “KILL JEWS”.
The people who attended this protest are not pro-Palestinian, they are not pro-human rights, and should barely be considered Canadian. They do not seek justice and peace, and they do not respect, nor value the democracy, freedom and liberty that Canada has provided them with. They are anti-Palestinian, anti-Jew, and anti-human rights. They are ignorant, violent people that adorn their children in anti-Israel signs and t-shirts, using them as political pawns, beat up members of my community for being Jewish and are taking advantage of our freedom of speech to commit these atrocious hate crimes.
If these protesters cared about their “Palestine” they would blame Hamas for the plight of their people and for hiding behind civilians. If they cared about innocent people dying, they would express condolences towards our fallen and their own instead of shoving numbers and statistics down everyone’s throat. If they cared about Palestinians, they would condemn their cousins in Syria for killing more of their own than Israel ever has. And if they cared about Muslims they would cry out against the threat of ISIS and their caliphate that threatens to throw the Middle-East back 500 years into a period of bloodshed and suffering that the people of Gaza have never and will never know with Israel as their neighbor. And finally, if they cared about Gaza, they would thank the IDF for sacrificing their lives and launching into a ground offensive to defeat the real enemy of the people of Gaza, the perverted and soul-lacking terrorists that are Hamas.
Because these protesters do not blame Hamas, do not care about Israeli casualties, do not cry out against other injustices against Muslims and do not care about defeating terror, this only leads to one conclusion. They hate Jews. Any effort they make to claim otherwise, such as the claim that they are merely anti-Zionist or anti-Israel is a blatant lie. And this applies not only to protesters such as these, but also any leader of any country in the world today. They are either with Israel, with the Palestinian people and against Hamas and terror, or they are purveyors of evil and murder and no better than the forces of evil that threatened Jewish existence in our people’s greatest tragedy.
The pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian debate is no longer about politics. It is no longer a partisan issue. It is not up for debate. It is morally and ethically obligated of any human being to support the side that values all human life – Israeli and Palestinian, and to condemn the side that wants to sacrifice their people in order to desecrate ours. Anything else, any double standard imposed on Israel is fueled by an intrinsic and emotional hatred and loathing against Jews.
What further proves that this protest (among hundreds of others around the world this past week) was fueled by hate, is that they resorted to violence in the face of opposition.
About fifteen pro-Israel protesters from the Calgary Jewish Community as well as some Christian Zionist supporters showed up at city hall and were savagely attacked by mobs of angry protesters, most of which were young Arab men. The pro-Israel crowd did not instigate anyone, they did not provoke the other side by using violence or inciting hatred. They chanted pro-Israel messages of peace and got thrown to the ground, punched in the face multiple times and brutally beat up for being Jewish and supporting the Jewish State. Among the victims of this attack was a brave young woman who advocates for Israel at the University and inspires many students and young people in Calgary to stand up for Israel. Her and her mother were viciously attacked, punched in the face and hit in the stomach by these raging protesters. Another young man was dragged across the street by the flag of Israel tied around his neck. Some of his friends were also jumped and punched in the face multiple times, as the perpetrators of violence yelled things like “Hitler was right”.
I have no idea why there were only three police officers there. I don’t know why the city of Calgary, having known about this protest in advance and having handed out permits to these lunatics did not send more police onto the street. Maybe it is because no one could ever expect that a city like Calgary, in a country like Canada would ever be host to such terrorizing hatred and violence on our streets. Unfortunately the day has come where we must look to our friends in Paris as an example and tighten the laws around protests. It is time to ban people who are not capable of acting humane to fight for their cause. Those who attended this “Pro-Palestinian” protest in Calgary yesterday, exemplified that what they were really there to protest was the freedom of speech, democracy and Western liberal values that our nation cherishes and protects them with. Now it is time for our media to expose them for the animals they are and to show the rest of Canada and the world that we will not tolerate hate speech or antisemitism in our country.
Against the frustration and anger I feel about seeing what happened yesterday, I know that this barbaric behavior and mask for Jew hating does not broadly represent Calgary in any significant way. Us Calgarians are from from a city that is very closely connected with a Canadian government that has outspokenly, unequivocally and unabashedly voiced their support and love for Israel. I am grateful and proud every day that I come from a country that so staunchly, despite international pressure and condemnation, stands beside Israel. Our polite and docile Canada which is often misconceived as being neutral in world affairs is not. Our current government has a voice, a strong moral compass and will not tolerate hate rallies such as the one that happened in Calgary yesterday. I hope that my fellow Calgarians who may be in agony and trauma from what happened yesterday can take solace in that message and continue to represent Canadian values amidst those who threaten us with hate.