">"> Letter to Toronto City Council on Alleged Anti-Semitism by Al-Quds Day Rallies - Neturei Karta International

Letter to Toronto City Council on Alleged Anti-Semitism by Al-Quds Day Rallies

Councilor James Pasternak, out of concern for the Jewish people, has recently requested that the City of Toronto look into what can be done to prevent the annual Al-Quds Day rally from taking place. He characterizes it as promoting anti-Semitism, and compares it to neo-Nazi rallies.

Dear Mayor and Members of City Council,

May the Almighty bless and protect you all.

Firstly, I would like to express our gratitude for your tireless service for the city of Toronto and the safety and well-being of its residents.

Councilor James Pasternak, out of concern for the Jewish people, has recently requested that the City of Toronto look into what can be done to prevent the annual Al-Quds Day rally from taking place. He characterizes it as promoting anti-Semitism and compares it to neo-Nazi rallies. As the Executive Committee of Toronto City Council is now considering his proposal, we feel it is crucial to bring to your attention some true facts about the rally, based on our personal experience attending the rally for several years.

It is important to recognize that anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. Participants in the rally wish to express opposition to specific crimes that have been perpetrated against their loved ones, and the fact that the perpetrators happen to have been people of Jewish descent does not make it anti-Semitic.

Indeed, Zionists do not represent the general Jewish people or the Jewish religion. Masses of Jews worldwide, including in Canada, do not agree. Many religious Jews believe that the occupation of Palestine, as well as the violent acts that accompany it, are totally in contrast to the Jewish religion. In addition, one of the basics of Jewish belief is that Jews are in exile by Divine decree and are commanded to live among the other nations, be loyal and peaceful citizens, and not attempt to found their own sovereign state. Therefore, although the rally calls for opposition to Israel, it is not against Jews or Judaism at all, only against the political ideology of Zionism.

In fact, the Al-Quds Day rally held in Toronto, among other such rallies held around the world, expresses great respect toward Jews and clearly differentiates between the crimes of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. One example is that every year, among the official banners of the event, there are signs reading “We love Jews, not Zionists,” “Canadians against Zionism, ISIS and IDF,” and “Yes to Torah, Yes to Bible, Yes to Quran, No to Zionism.” Instead of blaming Jews in general for what has happened to their families, they are careful to criticize only the crimes and those perpetrating them, whether they be Jews or not. This tolerance and understanding should be lauded and appreciated, not condemned or banned.

We, as well as other Jewish people from various backgrounds, join this rally every year. We do so because we sympathize with the Palestinian people, and we are embarrassed that crimes have been committed against them in our name. We find that aside from inflicting a catastrophe upon the Palestinian people, Zionism has caused and continues to cause hatred towards Jewish people among those who unfortunately don’t know the distinction between Judaism and Zionism.

From our personal experience, we can attest to the fact that at these rallies, the newfound respect for Jews can be noticed and the enormous reduction of hate is obvious. This is crucial and tremendously beneficial in establishing a peaceful and safe environment of co-existence for Jews, Muslims, and others in Canada.

The fact that this rally includes Jewish people teaches an important lesson to all those present: that Jews and Muslims can live peacefully together, that our different religions and ethnicities are not the source of the problem, and that we must unite to combat terrorism as well as unjust and violent political ideologies, wherever they may be found.

One of the organizers of this year’s Al-Quds day rally in Toronto, in an interview, summed up the essence of the rally by saying: “We completely denounce them [the terrorists], they don’t represent Islam, they are not Muslims. Every single person who is here, they are here for peaceful protest. We strongly denounce any sort of violence.”

Thus, we testify that far from inciting hatred, this rally actually contributes to tolerance and understanding between our peoples. We know the organizers personally, and we can testify that they are people of exceptional tolerance and respect.

On the contrary, banning this rally would probably give rise to hatred and anti-Semitism, because the ban would be seen as the work of some powerful pro-Israel lobby intimidating governments into silencing all opposition to the State of Israel.

Furthermore, we are certain that taking an oppressed people, their relatives or descendants, and oppressing them even more by denying them freedom of speech and not allowing them to express their pain, would not be beneficial at all to anyone involved.

We all need to work for and encourage peace, and not, G-d forbid, to support oppression or cause hate.

We are certain that you, in your positions as elected leaders, will use your best judgment to protect the well-being of all citizens, their rights, and their safety. We continually pray for you and for all of Canada.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Dovid Feldman
Neturei Karta International

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