Pro-Palestine activists protest ex-Israeli PM Canada visit
Pro-Palestinian activists have taken to the streets of Toronto to protest against former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's visit to Canada.
Pro-Palestine activists from the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) took to the streets of Toronto, Canada, to protest against former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's visit to Canada in solidarity with the Palestinian people and support of the Palestinian cause, and Al Mayadeen interviewed Yara Shoufani who was participating on behalf of the PYM's Toronto Chapter.
"The PYM, through mobilizing an action against Naftali Bennett speaking in Toronto, is sending a loud and clear message that Palestinians and Arabs in the far diaspora, and our supporters, will not be silent, and will be militant in confronting Zionism wherever it appears," Shoufani said in response to a question about the message the PYM sought to send through its protest
"The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center—a Zionist organization in Toronto—thought that they could bring Bennett, a Zionist war criminal, to Toronto quietly. They promoted the event and sold tickets ranging from $180-$300, and we made sure that the event could not run smoothly," she revealed.
Protest outside Friends Of Simon Wiesenthal Center event in Toronto delays Naftali Bennett's speaking engagement by 50 minutes and counting. He is nowhere to be seen. #FreePalestine @palyouthmvmt pic.twitter.com/YKcqcWmOY6— Spring Magazine (@springmagca) June 14, 2023
"We showed up in the hundreds and blocked off the road for an hour, and swarmed the cars of attendees who were trying to enter through the driveway," Shoufani said when it came to her group's actions against the Zionist organizations. "We successfully delayed the start time by nearly one hour."
"Once the event began, we used our voices, megaphones, and speakers, to disrupt the event right at the venue window with noises that were so loud, Zionist organizers came outside to try to have police shut us down. They failed, and we were able to disrupt the event," the Palestinian Lebanese activist told Al Mayadeen English.
Pro-Palestinian activists in Toronto, Canada demonstrated outside a Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre event, protesting former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett's visit to Toronto. This protest delayed Naftali Bennett's speaking engagement by 50 minutes. pic.twitter.com/pgKyPApY5Z— Amira Herez 𓂆 (@amira_herez) June 15, 2023
Shoufani underlined the PYM's condemnation of the Canadian government for allowing Bennett into the country, all the while ignoring a legal brief filed by human rights organizations and community members calling on Ottawa to bar his entry for the roles he played in committing numerous war crimes, including the 1996 Qana massacre.
"Canada - an imperialist nation which continues to colonize Indigenous land and displace Indigenous peoples - is a key supporter" of the Israeli occupation and the Zionist movement, she underlined.
"We have a role as Palestinians residing in Canada to confront Zionism, Zionist institutions, and the role of the Canadian state in supporting Zionism, colonialism, and imperialism at home and worldwide," she said in response to a question about the responsibility of the international pro-Palestine community in regards to actions similar to the one carried out by the Canadian government in allowing the former Israeli PM into the country.
Zionist threats to pro-Palestine organizations
Palestinian organizers are met with many attempts to try to silence and intimidate them in various ways and through numerous mediums, such as online smear campaigns and in-person events. "Sometimes even trying to shut down our events or criminalize criticism of Zionism," Shoufani explained upon being asked about the threats pro-Palestine activists and organizations are exposed to.
"Many Palestinian youth and supporters have been posted about online on Canary Mission for example, or faced targeted attacks by Zionist and Western media for their activism," she added, noting that it was critical for the activists in question not to allow the tactics employed by the Zionists intimidate them by supporting one another when faced with such campaigns.
"In the case of this event, Zionists collaborated with the Toronto police, who came to the action and displayed heightened aggression against the protestors in order to keep us from blocking attendees from entering the building," she revealed.
Backing her point that there is strength in numbers and a united front, Shoufani highlighted how the pro-Zionists were "unsuccessful because we were organized, had larger numbers, and were able to block off the street and delay the event start."
Palestinians, Arabs need to organize
Al Mayadeen English asked Shoufani for a message she would like to send through its platform to supporters of the Palestinian cause who have been for years afraid to voice their support.
The Palestinian Lebanese activists said: "Our message as the PYM is loud and clear: it is our responsibility as Palestinian and Arabs in the diaspora to mobilize and organize, to stay steadfast in our struggle for the liberation of our homeland. We have a critical role to play in combatting Zionism across North America, Europe, and anywhere in the world."
"Our youth have not forgotten our cause, and we remain committed in our struggle for return and liberation. We call on all supporters of the Palestinian cause to get involved, to refuse to allow Zionism to sever us from our homeland, and to become active agents in our struggle," she concluded.