‘Israeli apartheid’ fight precedes Toronto pride parade

‘Israeli apartheid’ fight precedes Toronto pride parade

Jewish marchers seek ban on anti-Israel group in repeat of unsuccessful 2011 battle

For the second consecutive year, the participation of an anti-Israel group in Toronto’s gay pride parade has sparked opposition from Jewish marchers.

Kulanu Toronto, a gay Jewish organization that plans to wave Canadian and Israeli flags at the parade, is seeking to prevent the presence of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, according to the Star, a local newspaper.

“QuAIA is hijacking the parade with their anti-Israel propaganda,” Kulanu executive director Justine Apple wrote in an e-mail. “Their hateful, hostile messaging alienates the people of Toronto and has no place in a parade that celebrates inclusion, tolerance, and diversity.”

The Jewish group has contacted the parade’s dispute-resolution body about banning QuAIA, which counters that such a move would represent a “precedent of censorship.” Kulanu alleges that QuAIA’s involvement would violate an anti-discrimination policy applied to recipients of public funds. The parade has received a $124,000 grant from the city.

That argument is not likely to work, however — it was tried last year, with the backing of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and was rejected. City manager Joe Pennachetti ruled at the time that “there is no legal precedent” establishing the phrase “Israeli apartheid” as discriminatory.

QuAIA says that the parade, scheduled for July 1, is a natural place to promote its message. A spokesman told the Star, “There are all sorts of social issues that have been dealt with in the parade, and there are always people who are uncomfortable with stuff.”

On its website, Kulanu invites potential marchers to “support Israel as we stand up for the only country in the Middle East that celebrates gay rights.”

A wide spectrum of organizations will march during the parade, including a Muslim group called Ismaili Queers and two organizations focused on Iran — the Iranian Queer Organization and the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees.

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