Sheldon Kirshner

Unruly Palestinian Protesters: A Disruptive Force

The Toronto Police Service is currently reviewing a pro-Palestinian demonstration that led to the abrupt cancellation of a dinner that was to be hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the Art Gallery of Ontario on March 2.

“If it is determined that illegal activity occurred, charges can be laid at a later date,” a spokeswoman said.

With some 400 protesters blocking doorways and making it virtually impossible for guests to enter the building, the demonstrators were engaged in what was demonstrably an illegal act. According to reports, dozens of guests, including International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, had difficulty getting into the building. Still others were escorted through a side door under police escort.

In the face of their disruptive behavior, the RCMP, which was in charge of handling security, recommended that the event should be cancelled, even though Toronto police were prepared to provide secure access to it.

It is debatable whether the RCMP’s decision was an overreaction. But what is abundantly clear is that the protesters, chanting incendiary slogans and brandishing placards lambasting Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip and Canada’s position on the Israel-Hamas war, were acting illegally and constituted a real and present threat to public safety.

Why were there no arrests?

The federal government must surely have been embarrassed by this spectacle. It made Canada look like a banana republic utterly incapable of securing a public space. Since when do demonstrators have a right to implicitly intimidate or threaten a foreign dignitary, much less the Canadian prime minister?

Canada’s former public safety minister, Marco Mendicino, was understandably incensed. In a social media post on X, he blasted the protesters as “thugs” and suggested that arrests should have been made. “Time for the madness to stop,” he added.

Deborah Lyons, Canada’s envoy on combating antisemitism, called the cancellation a “direct result of caving in to the irrational demands of an out-of-control and noisy cohort …”

Their comments speak to the point. Protesters should not be allowed to interfere with such events.

Regrettably, Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s anti-Islamophobia envoy, drew the wrong conclusion, decrying the “constant rush” to portray pro-Palestinian protests as a threat to public safety. She characterized it as “both wrong and dangerous.” She is entitled to her opinion, as warped as it is.

The fact of the matter is that Palestinian protesters and their sympathizers have gone off on a tangent since October 7, the day some 3,000 Hamas terrorists stormed into southern Israel, killed 1,200 civilians and soldiers, and dragged 250 hostages back to Gaza. These attacks spurred Israel to declare war on Hamas, a venal Islamic fundamentalist organization that categorically rejects Israel’s existence and a two-state solution.

Hamas supporters since then have mounted a succession of vocal and aggressive demonstrations praising the October 7 attack and calling for Israel’s destruction. A few of these protests in Canada, which have been organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, Toronto4Palestine and Samidoun, have intimidated the Jewish community. A case in point is the protest that occurred recently at the Montreal Holocaust Museum.

Peaceful protests, however abhorrent in messaging, can be accommodated in a democratic society. But when public safety becomes an issue, or when law-abiding citizens are implicitly threatened by an unruly mob, local, provincial or federal authorities must step in and ensure that violators are duly punished.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,
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