On May 18, 2019 a pro-Palestinian demonstration titled “Nakba 71: Cross-Canada Day of Action” took place at Toronto Dundas Square. For more information about its organizers, endorsements and messages click here.
On May 24, 2019 Barry Weisleder, a high school teacher (TDSB) and the federal secretary of the Socialist Action – Canada, posted:
Close to 500 people rallied and marched in Toronto on May 18, demanding justice for the Palestinian people. Shortly after 2 p.m., the gathering at Yonge and Dundas heard the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, some music, then speeches from a number of leading activists. An earlier attempt by a dozen flag-waving Zionists to infiltrate and disrupt the event was repulsed by the progressive crowd’s loud chanting and the presence of a stalwart corps of marshals.
Speakers included: Hammam Farah, a long time activist from Gaza, newly elected to the executive board of the Palestinian Canadian Community Centre; Emily Green of Independent Jewish Voices; Felipe Nagata of the Canadian Federation of Students; Zafar Bangash of the Canadian Council for Justice and Peace; Wala Al-Safi from Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at McMaster University; Ali Mallah, a veteran union activist and member of the Al Quds Committee; this writer on behalf of Socialist Action; and Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Neturei Karta International (whose written statement I read aloud at his request due to his strict observance of the Sabbath). MC Lina Assi of McMaster University SPHR, did a brilliant job of chairing and leading chants en route.
The Day of Action, sponsored by the Canadian BDS Coalition, took place in cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Demands included Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state and economy, End the Occupation, Tear Down the Apartheid Wall, Lift the Siege of Gaza, and establish the Right for all Palestinian Refugees to Return home.
Following the opening rally, the growing Toronto throng marched slowly north on Yonge Street to Bloor, site of an office tower that houses the Israeli Consulate.
There the protesters occupied Canada’s busiest intersection for over 45 minutes to hear speakers and to engage in loud chanting, while BDS Coalition members distributed information to passers-by. The array of red flags and colourful banners, along with a contingent of anti-Zionist Jewish rabbis, was a sight to behold.
It was the first time that proponents of Palestine solidarity seized that famous cross-road and held it long enough to present a democratic, anti-imperialist narrative for the city and the world to witness through mainstream and social media.
Public opinion in Canada now backs sanctions against the Zionist state. May 18 marked the first of what organizers said will be an annual cross-country Day of Action. The struggle continues!
SA [Socialist Action] Speech to Day of Action Rally, May 18, Toronto [delivered by Barry Weisleder]
Sisters and brothers, comrades and friends, it is truly great to see so many people here today in solidarity with the people of Palestine. I particularly welcome to this rally Palestinians, the Arab community, members of the Latin American community, and Jewish anti-Zionists.
Today, the eyes of the world are on Palestine and Venezuela. Why? Because of their proximity to vast reserves of oil. The corporate energy giants want to control the resources of the world. They try to crush any nation that stands in their way. Recently, we saw examples of that behaviour when Washington seized the Embassy of Venezuela in the U.S. capital, and earlier when it moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, indicating that the Zionist Occupation will be permanent. To that we say NO. Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela! Free, free Palestine!
The Palestinian people are in the forefront of resistance to world imperialism. They did not choose this role. It was thrust upon them. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the Western powers carved up the Middle East, just as they did Africa and Asia earlier. In the face of rebellion by the Arab masses, they sponsored a military fortress in the region. They exploited the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust for their greedy goals. But the fact remains: Israel is a colonial settler state. It is an outpost of imperialism in the Arab East. Zionism began as an extreme bourgeois nationalist minority movement. It ran counter to the strong socialist and internationalist tradition of Jews in the Diaspora. Theodore Herzl, a non-religious Jew and founder of Zionism, gained sponsors in France, Britain, even Czarist Russia. Later, Canada, the USA and Christian Zionists joined the project. Even the Stalinist-ruled USSR voted at the United Nations in 1948 for the partition of Palestine that led to the establishment of Israel. The Zionist state was founded on a big lie: that Palestine was a land without people for a people without land. But the Palestinian people are here today to challenge that lie.
I speak for Socialist Action. SA [Socialist Action] is part of the world Trotskyist movement. Our movement opposed the creation of the Zionist state 71 years ago. We oppose the so-called two state solution – which is just a cruel cover for racism and ethnic cleansing. The truth is there is no solution to the Jewish Question under capitalism. The only solution is world socialist revolution. The precondition for that is support for national liberation struggles, which only the working class and poor farmers can lead to victory.
SA [Socialist Action] is proud to have initiated, through the Canadian BDS Coalition, this first cross-country Day of Action for Palestinian rights.
But, why now? Because over the past decade public opinion across the Canadian state has shifted. A big majority, 66 per cent, support sanctions against Israel. The majority recognize Israel is guilty of systematic oppression and war crimes. Among voters for the four out of five major parties in Parliament, 75 to 94 per cent favour sanctions. But party leaders and the big media conceal this fact. So, now is the time to proclaim the truth. We represent the new majority! And we will not be denied.
We say: End the Occupation! Down with the Zionist Apartheid state! For the right of all refugees to return to their homes. Lift the Siege of Gaza! For a Democratic and Secular Palestine for all its residents: Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists! Disarm the nuclear powers, starting with the USA and its Israeli client state. From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!