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April 5, 2012

Global march on the city of peace

The Canadian Charger

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The tension was palpable as some one hundred protesters chanted slogans to mark the first ever Global March on Jerusalem (GMJ), while across Bloor Street, at the corner of Avenue Road, in downtown Toronto, a noticeably smaller group of protesters, led by Meir Weinstein, national director of the Canadian branch of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), denounced those supporting the GMJ.

The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) – on Palestinian Land Day - was a non-violent civil resistance in Palestine, and the four neighbouring countries: Egypt, Lebanon Jordan and Syria, that also included demonstrations in front of Israeli embassies in many parts of the world.

The GMJ was comprised of a diverse coalition of Palestinian, Arab and international activists who are united in their struggle to liberate the holy city of Jerusalem (the city of Peace) from Zionist occupation.

Palestinian Land Day commemorates the death of six Palestinian citizens, who were killed by the Israeli military on March 30, 1976, while protesting the confiscating of their land by Israel.

Khaled Mouammar, former president of the Canadian Arab Federation, said Jerusalem is a city for people of all faiths, yet Israel is evicting Muslims and Christians in its ongoing effort to make Jerusalem a Jewish city.

“They're planning to demolish 1000 homes (in East Jerusalem) to build the King David Park.”

He added that although Israel is billed as the only democracy in the Middle East, Jews are classed as citizens of Jerusalem, while Palestinians are residents.

“The rule is if they don't reside in Jerusalem for six months, they lose their residency, while Jews can come from all over the world and be citizens (of Jerusalem). Many Palestinians have to work elsewhere, so they lose their residency.” 

Meanwhile, using a speaker megaphone to address those protesting against the GML, Mr. Weinstein  said that supporters of the GMJ were enemies of Israel and enemies of freedom.

“Having people march on Jerusalem, what an obscenity,” Mr. Weinstein said. “We have to take a strong stand for principles, against tyrants. We're outnumbered, but Israel has had phenomenal development. Ours is a relentless struggle for freedom and we're winning.”

Another supporter of the GMJ, Jake Javanshir, a member of Not in Our Name (NION) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), said the Israeli military is conducting mass arrests of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, demolishing their homes, destroying their crops, uprooting their trees and diverting their water into the Jewish settlements.

He said that as a Jew growing up in Israel he didn't know what happened in 1948 because there is no mention of it and it's not in the Israeli textbooks.

“Once I started reading what's really the mission of Zionists, I came to realize that they don't want two countries side by side. It's in the documents in the Israeli military archives and in the Ben Gurian diaries that they plan to expel as many as possible of the indigenous people, and if necessary exterminate the rest.”

For Sue Goldstein, a member of Jewish Women in Committee to End the Occupation, the protest for Palestinian rights has been going on at the corner of Bloor Street and Avenue Road for 11 years, with no end in sight.

“We're here every Friday from five to six. There's usually five or ten of us. We plan to keep doing it until Palestinians are free.  Israel is supposed to be a democracy, but Palestinians (in Israel proper) don't have the same rights as Jews, not to mention the West Bank and Gaza (which are under Israeli military occupation). Palestinians (in Israel proper) are subjected to 30 laws which don't apply to Jews. Gaza experiences 20 hour (per day) blackouts because Israel won't let fuel in.  They're demolishing East Jerusalem and moving settlers in.  Netanyahu said Jerusalem must be united for Israelis.”

Across Bloor Street, on the other side of the ideological divide, Mr. Weinstein explained his position to the Charger.

“Number one, there's no such thing as a Palestinian.”

“Why?” The Charge asked.

“Because they're Arabs. Israel is a Jewish state. The Arabs have a lot of land,”  Mr. Weinstein said.

“Where?” the Charger asked.

“In the Middle East,” Mr. Weinstein replied.

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