TORONTO — Despite gloomy, overcast skies that eventually turned into a downpour, more than 4,000 Jewish Torontonians, and a healthy contingent of Christians and other non-Jews, were lead by Holocaust survivors in a march up the city’s largely Jewish Bathurst street on Wednesday. The August 20 event was launched in the face of a global resurgence of anti-Semitism cloaked in the guise of anti-Zionism, say organizers.
The protest, called “We Will Not Be Silent!,” was a community march against anti-Semitism and the demonization of the Jewish State and organized by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, its advocacy arm, the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs (CIJA), and a coalition of community organizations.
Wet but undeterred, march participants, most of whom dressed in blue and white, showed their solidarity with Israel by proudly waving Israeli and Canadian flags while singing Hebrew folk songs. Passing cars honked horns in support.
The 1.7 kilometer candlelight walk, which took participants north from Holy Blossom Temple to Bialik Hebrew Day School, culminated with an outdoor community gathering emceed by Shael Rosenbaum, vice chair of UJA’s Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. It featured speeches by acclaimed journalist, Martin Himel; Consul General of Israel for Toronto and Western Canada, DJ Schneeweiss; Diller graduate Leora Nash, and Holocaust survivor Bill Glied.
Glied, one of the last survivors of both Auschwitz and Dachau, said he has seen it all before.
“I see the placards that spew blatant anti-Semitism in Berlin, Paris and London,” said a passionate Glied. “This, after the Shoah, after six million [lost their lives]. ‘Hamas, Hamas Jews to the Gas’ sounds ominously like the ‘Juden-raus’ ["Jews Out"] I heard in 1939. This is not anti-Israel: this is crass Jew hatred.
“And when George Galloway, the Member of Parliament for the English city of Bradford, says ‘Bradford is an Israel-free zone’, it sounds very much like the ‘Juden-rein’ ["Clean of Jews"] cities of Nazi Germany,” said Glied.
“It was simply amazing to see 4,000 community members, young and old alike, walking side by side through the center of the city in support of Israel and the fight against injustice and anti-Semitism,” said Ted Sokolsky, President & CEO, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. “Despite the rain, their spirits never wavered.”
The purpose of the march was passionately summed up in Glied’s closing remarks: “Thank God for the IDF. Thank God for Israel. And remember together we must stand. Never again!”